New interlocking inter-module connection for modular steel buildings: Simplified structural behaviours

Andrew William Lacey, Wensu Chen, Hong Hao, Kaiming Bi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Inter-module connections (IMCs) are the key component which transforms individual building modules into complete modular buildings. Structural design of these connections is, however, reported to be a major challenge, due to a lack of knowledge of the structural performance. Therefore, in this study, the structural behaviours of the newly proposed interlocking (IL) IMC, which incorporates interlocking components to improve the constructability and shear force–displacement (V-x) behaviour, are investigated. The simplified model previously proposed for the shear behaviour of the experimental IL connection specimens is reviewed, and numerical simulations are undertaken using ABAQUS to investigate the effect of the loading and boundary conditions on the V-x behaviour. Then, extended numerical models are developed based on a more realistic geometry which has two bolts per column to improve the resistance to in-plane rotation. A simplified empirical model is established, in which the V-x behaviour of the more realistic connections is represented by exponential functions, allowing for the effect of the axial load. Next, the numerical model is extended, and the axial force–displacement and bending moment-rotation behaviours are evaluated, after which semi-empirical models are derived. In this way, simplified models are developed which can predict the structural behaviours of the interlocking IMC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111409
JournalEngineering Structures
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Analytical model
  • Inter-module connection
  • Interlocking bolted connection
  • Modular building

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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