Load combination filter in practice – preferred general workflow

In Consteel 16, we introduced the function of load combination filter. Filtering is possible based on the load combinations’ limit state, load cases, and corresponding analysis and design results. The goal is to create different sets for the different steps of the optimization and reduce calculation time while making sure that all the relevant load combinations are considered. Let’s see what a conscious design workflow looks like in practice!


It is a significant problem in almost all structural design projects that the standards define many possible load cases and combinations to evaluate. Although most of these load combinations are never relevant or provide decisive design situations, it is usually not evident which ones might be neglected safely, especially when considering, that different load combinations can be relevant for different parts of the structure, like primary or secondary structure, connections, etc. Accordingly, the optimization process is overloaded by a large amount of unnecessary calculations.

With the load combination filter function, a reduced list of load combinations aka a load combination set can be created and saved for the different steps of the optimization.

The optimal workflow for the filter may vary for the different purposes the sets are created for, but there is a recommended general process that can serve as the basis for all of them. First, run the simplest calculations and use the results for a rough selection which will already decrease the number of load combinations noticeably.  Then one can increase the complexity of the calculations and further reduce the list of combinations by using stricter filters. If needed, this step can be repeated. This iterative process allows us to avoid complex and time-consuming calculations for all the thousands of load combinations.

load combination amount with and without filtering

1 - all load combination, no filter;
2 - initial set with broad filter;
3 - working set with strict filter

Detailed process


The base of all optimization processes is a correctly built structural model. So, the first step is geometrical and structural modeling and load definition. It is advisable to run a first-order analysis for only one or two load cases and diagnostics to find possible modeling errors. Load combinations can be created after that. Every limit state that will be used during the whole design of the structure, should be defined. Consteel’s automatic load combination generation function is an efficient tool to do it.

Calculation and filter

On the Load combination set definition dialog, it is possible to create load combination sets by selecting the combinations based on their limit state and/or the load cases they contain. But usually, filtering on specific analysis or design results will likely be more effective in reducing the number of combinations. Using the above-described general workflow, the steps are as follows:

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