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A stunningly simple solution to a complex mathematical problem

Offshore oil and gas infrastructures, bridges and wind turbines are just some examples of structures that rely on well-designed pile foundation for stability. Due to the critical role pile foundations play in ensuring structural stability, most countries enforce strict and standardised codes to protect human life.

The novel LAP web application developed by Netcalcs analyses the response of piled foundations subjected to horizontal loads quickly and easily and is a stunning solution to what is traditionally a complex mathematical problem. It is already being used in research and engineering design practice in more than 50 countries across the globe.

LAP works by forming and solving systems of non-linear equations representing a vertical pile subjected to lateral forces, displacements, rotations and movements in contact with non-linear (Winker) springs representing the soil. The application has several unique features, including a convenient interface for researchers to experiment with different p-y curves.

Engaging with LAP is user-friendly and the application particularly convenient to use as there is no requirement to install software. The responsive web based interface scales according the screen size of the user’s device and can therefore be run on PC, tablet or smart phone.

Take for an example a wind turbine project. The user simply enters a project name and run ID in the appropriate data fields to get started. In LAP, the pile is modeled with structural beam elements and can be assigned either linear-elastic or elastic-perfectly plastic material properties. Several different pile sections can be included in a single analysis.

The soil is modelled as a collection of independent (Winkler) springs. The load displacement behaviour of the springs can be specified using parameters for common p-y curves. Users can also specify their own p-y curves by pasting in tabulated data.

Pile loads can be specified as combination of horizontal forces, applied moments, prescribed horizontal displacements and prescribed rotations at any location along the pile.  A surcharge load can be applied on the ground surface adjacent to the pile, which has the effect of increasing the total vertical stress in the soil by an amount equal to the value of the surcharge load.

Horizontal and rotational reaction springs can also be included. These may represent structural elements that resist movement of the pile but are not intended to represent the soil. The program solves for the pile response using non-linear finite element analysis.

Projects can be shared among users, allowing effective collaboration, with the simple click of a button. All input and output data can also be automatically downloaded to an Excel file, saved in Cloud and accessed anywhere, meaning rapid and thorough offline documentation.


Projects are stored on a database server and users can access their projects across all of their devices. The programs run efficiently on all devices connected to the Internet.  LAP has over 1300 users in more than  60 countries.

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