HSE Highway Sign Engineering Software

Highway Sign Structures


The HSE SIGN STRUCTURES ANALYSIS AND DESIGN software is an automated Highway Sign Structures generation and design program for latticed Highway Sign Structures models.

The HSE software is a high-end parametric technology for the generation and design of latticed Highway Sign Structures. It offers powerful and productive features for generating many types of latticed structural models and automated tools for determining wind and ice loads as well as any relevant design parameters such as slenderness ratios and force coefficients.

This engineering software solution is used worldwide by several notable international companies in production work for building innovative highway sign structures.

The HSE is a robust and reliable structural software based on more than 32 years of Research and Development. The program, designed with the latest technological innovations in its field, is equipped with a sophisticated and user friendly graphical interface.


The program can calculate the resistance and various design parameters of all elements of a Highway Sign Structures model according to the Canadian, American and European steel codes and to the Canadian aluminum codes.

The HIGHWAY SIGN ENGINEERING program supports ice loads, wind loads which can be defined according to various distribution methods ranging from uniform distribution and user defined distributions to sophisticated methods as the one proposed in the IEC-826 document.

The ice loads and wind loads are automatically distributed to the latticed structure and to the sign panels.
Highway Structures Engineering


The Highway Sign Engineering software is a technology built on a powerful user-friendly interface offering comprehensive analysis options and intuitive modeling features.

The advanced structural analysis of the HSE software allows the user to achieve specialized analyses crucial to any projects related to the infrastructure industry.

The HSE software considers restrained warping for the torsion of thin-wall open sections. Notice that this phenomenon is not included in most commonly used frame analysis programs. Almost all frame programs in practice use St-Venant torsion theory ignoring the effects of restrained warping.

•Automated simplified method of the building codes (NBCC and IBC)
•Seismic response spectrum, seismic time-history and dynamic time-history analysis
•Customized response spectrums and accelerograms
•Fully customizable analysis parameters
•Maximal response using CQC and SRSS methods
•Automated or user defined damping
•Graphical display of response spectrums and accelerograms
•User defined incidence angle of seismic loads and vertical components
•Customized analysis and output time steps
•Time refined results can be provided for selected parts of the models
•Automated or custom determination of the signs of deformations provided by the maximum response methods
•Additional masses can be added to the model by way of static loads
•Seismic loads (spectrum or accelerogram) and dynamic loads (sinusoidal, general load functions and random load functions)
•Multiple seismic and dynamic loads can be combined together in a single analysis
•Base shear calibration according to the selected building code
•Possibility to define several seismic loads and account for eccentricities between the center of stiffness and the center of mass
•Graphical display of the center of stiffness and the center of mass and seismic forces at floors
•Account for accidental eccentricities
•Account for the I, F and R coefficients of the NBCC and IBC code in spectral and time-history analysis



The software allows the user to create load combinations. A load combination results in an algebric combination of distinct basic loads. Each basic load is multiplied by a load factor. The resulting load combination acts on the structure to generate a specific structural response. The load combination wizard in the program also allows creating load patterns.

The load combination wizard generates load combinations according to NBCC, UBC, ASCE 7, BOCA, Eurocode and ECC.
•Loading for joints, members including concentrated, uniform, trapezoidal and thermal loads.
•Pressure or concentrated floor loads with two-way, one-way and truss distribution using triangular or quadrilateral surfaces.
•Pressure or concentrated loads on finite element plates.
•Gravity loads in any global direction calculated by the program.
•Imposed displacements at any joint.
•User defined load combinations.

The user can apply uniform, concentrated and variable loads to physical members (continuous sequence of members).
•Standard sections (CISC, AISC and European)
•Custom section libraries
•Non-standard sections (over 30 shapes available)
•Truss and pre-tensioned cable sections
•User defined section properties
•Composite sections are available

•Wizard based geometry generation
•Large number of pre-defined frames
•Over 30 pre-defined trusses
•Circular and parabolic arches
•Cylinders and cones composed of beams and/or plates



The catenary cable element is a highly non-linear element used to model the catenary behavior of a cable suspended between two points under the effect of its self-weight. This formulation accounts for the non-linearity due to large displacements.

A cable has no bending, shear, compression or torsion stiffness. Due to this fact, the fixities at the ends are ignored; the cable is always treated as member acting in tension only. In the interface of the GSE, the user can create a catenary cable by associating a cable type section to a member.
*Requires the advanced analysis application.
Spatial objects are used to model non-structural secondary elements attached to the structure. These elements add no stiffness to the existing model. Loads applied to spatial objects are transferred to the structure through one or more attach joints. The loads are transferred using a “rigid plate” approach.

Concentrated, pressure and wind loads may be applied to spatial objects. The figures below shows a spatial object loaded vertically and horizontally attached to a cantilever column. Also, it shows the deformations and biaxial moments induced by the loads transferred by the spatial object.
*Requires the advanced analysis application.



This option is available for AISC 360-16 and AISC 360-10 standards.

The options for the Stability Design Method are Direct Analysis Method (DAM) and Effective Length Method (kL).


•Local coordinate systems
•Linear or circular lines of constructions for model creations
•Automated commands for model creation such as move, rotate, extrude, copy, attach, subdivide and others
•Models can be edited either graphically or by means of spreadsheets
•Element can be created in batch or one by one
•Elements of the models can be selected either graphically or according to a set of criterions
•Persistent groups of selected objects can be created and edited graphically or by means of spreadsheets
•Definition of physical members
•Selection and edition of physical members
•Definition of loading surfaces
•Multiple edition grids with user defined spacing, angles and labels
•Powerful edition and automatic generation tools
•Members can be subdivided in any number of equal segments or at specific positions
•Similar connected members can be merged together
•Elements of the structure can be renumbered according to several criterions
•Element attributes can be set graphically or by means of spreadsheets (sections, analysis parameters, rotation angles, etc.)
•Element attributes can be edited in batch or element by element
•Loads can be edited graphically or by means of spreadsheets
•Contour lines for finite element plates with customized bounds
•Wizard based geometry generation
•A large number of pre-defined frames
•Circular and parabolic arches
•Cylinders and cones composed of beams and/or plates
•Physical elements concept to group different elements
•Surfaces can be used for load transfer and self-weight calculation
•Surfaces can be used to simulate diaphragm effects


This wizard allows generating standard and nonstandard highway sign superstructures of type A1. The standard models are based on the typical plans of the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec. These standard structures are always assumed to be made of aluminum tubes.

The required steps for creating such structures are the following:
1 – Parameters
2 – Beam dimensions
3 – Column dimensions
4 – Beam panels
5 – Column panels
6 – Pedestals
7 – End


The program manages to scale the size of the various pictures including toolbar buttons in order to make the user interface easy to use on every monitor, even on very high resolution monitors.

•3D solid display of all section shapes
•Ultra-fast 3D visualization in wire frame or solid modes
•Customized display of all graphical objects
•Partial model visualization
•Results can be displayed on screen for the whole or a part of the structure
•Results can be displayed for each element separately by means of graphics and numerical results spreadsheets
•Results can be displayed for a set of elements by means of numerical results spreadsheets
•Graphical display of seismic and dynamic analysis results
•Model size limited only to the physical capacity of the computer

Highway Sign Engineering


Functionalities of the HSE program allow to display objects transparency for various components such as current selection, solid members, plates, surfaces, spatial objects, panels.

The level of transparency may be customized for each type of object from the Display Options command.



The integration of IFC in the GSE program enables importation of models from a large number of architectural and structural software.

IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is an open and neutral data format allowing the definition of related classes to all construction objects. It is dedicated to the building sector and aims to software interoperability (all editors, all applications).

IFC is the most widely used protocol for information exchange and sharing between different platforms of BIM (Building Information Modeling).


•AutoCAD interface to import and export models by way of a DXF file
•The SDNF (Steel Detailing Neutral File) interface exports beams, columns and braces to SDNF compatible detailing software
•The KISS (Keep It Simple Steel) interface exports beams, columns and braces to KISS compatible estimation softwares
•IFC-Architecture interface for importing models from Revit or other IFC compliant programs.
•If required, members subdivision and account for physical elements will be carried out automatically
•The solid view of the structure may also be exported when exporting to AutoCAD


•Results can be visualized either graphically or numerically
•Input data and results may be printed for the whole structure or partial structures using a graphical selection or a range of elements
•Customized list of input data and results to be printed
•Reports are available in several formats including SAFI™ reports, Microsoft Excel worksheets, Microsoft Access databases and ASCII text files
•All graphics can be printed or copied to the clipboard for use in external programs


Metric, imperial and mixed units systems are allowed and can be modified at any time.

Reports are printed according to any unit system.
Highway Sign Engineering


The program calculates the bending, compression, tension, shear and combined resistance of aluminum based on the results of a linear, P-Delta, non-linear, seismic, dynamic or moving load analysis. Singly symmetric, asymmetric and built-up section shapes are covered for all design codes.
•Aluminum design codes
• Member Attributes – Aluminum
• Bending Parameters
• Compression and Tension parameters
• Welds parameters
• Recalculate
• Redesign selected members
• Design summary

Highway Structures Engineering


This wizard allows generating standard and nonstandard highway sign superstructures of type A1. The standard models are based on the typical plans of the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec. These standard structures are always assumed to be made of aluminum tubes.

The required steps for creating such structures are the following:
1 – Parameters
2 – Beam dimensions
3 – Column dimensions
4 – Beam panels
5 – Column panels
6 – Pedestals
7 – End


The compressive resistance (Cr) of a member is calculated according to clauses 9.4.1, 9.4.2 and 9.4.3. The slenderness of the plates is determined according to clauses 8.2.1, 8.2.2, 8.3.1, 8.3.2 and 10.2.1.

The torsional buckling stress is calculated using the method presented in clause 13.3.2 of the CAN/CSA S16 code from where the equations of clauses and of the CAN/CSA-S157 code are taken (see commentary C9.4.3.3).

The compressive resistance of a built-up section is calculated according to clause 9.8.2.
The bending resistance (Mr) of a member is calculated according to clauses 9.5.2 (resistance of the cross section) and 9.5.3 (lateral torsional buckling). The slenderness of the plates is determined according to clauses 8.2.1, 8.2.2, 8.3.1, 8.3.2 and 10.2.1.

The lateral torsional buckling resistance is calculated using the general lateral torsional buckling equation. The equation presented in clause is a simplification of this general equation.



The welds have an important influence on the resistance of aluminum elements. The program distinguishes two types of welds which are end welds and in-span welds. Each of these types of welds may be full (affecting the entire cross section) or partial (affecting a portion of the cross section).

In the case of full welds, R Ag, R Ix and R Iy are not used.

In the case of partial welds, ratios must be specified.


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  • SAFI Quality Software, Inc.
    3393 Sainte-Foy Road, Quebec City
    QC, G1X1S7
  • (USA&CAN) 1 800.810.9454
  • + 1 418.654.9454