Finite Element Modelling of Bolted Cold-Formed Steel Storage Rack Upright Frames

Nima Talebian, Benoit P. Gilbert, Nadia Baldassino, Hong Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Steel storage racks, commonly assembled from cold-formed steel profiles, are braced in the cross-aisle direction, where bracing members are typically bolted between two uprights forming an “upright frame”. Especially for high-bay racks and racks supporting the building enclosure, accurately determining the transverse shear stiffness of upright frames is essential in calculating the elastic buckling load, performing earthquake design and serviceability checks. International racking specifications recommend different approaches to evaluate the said transverse shear stiffness. The Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI) Specification conservatively uses an analytical solution based on Timoshenko and Gere's theory while the European (EN15512) and Australian (AS4084) Specifications recommend testing to be conducted. Previous studies have shown that Finite Element Analyses (FEA), solely using beam elements, fail to reproduce experimental test results and may overestimate the transverse shear stiffness by a factor up to 25. This discrepancy is likely attributed to the local deformations occurring at the bolted joints. In this paper, a commercially used upright frame configuration has been modeled using shell elements in FEA and the response is verified against published experimental test results. A good correlation is found between the FEA and test results, concluding that shell elements are able to fully capture the behaviour of the upright frame. Future studies on the use of the FE model are also presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-257
JournalApplied Mechanics and Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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