Classification of Loads

A load may be defined as the combined effect of external forces acting on a body. The loads may be classified as:

  1. Dead loads
  2. Live or fluctuating loads
  3. Inertia loads or forces
  4. Centrifugal loads or forces.

The other way of classification is

  1. Tensile loads
  2. Compressive loads
  3. Torsional or twisting loads
  4. Bending loads
  5. Shearing loads

The load may also be a ‘point’ (or concentrated) or distributed.

Point load:

A point load or concentrated load is one which is considered to act at a point. In actual practice, the load has to be distributed over a small area, because, such small knife-edge contacts are generally neither possible, nor desirable.

Distributed load:

A distributed load is one which is distributed or spread in some manner over the length of the beam. If the spread is uniform. (i.e., at the uniform rate, say w kN or N/metre run) it is said to be uniformly distributed load and is abbreviated as u.d.l. If the spread is not at uniform rate, it is said to be non-uniformly distributed load. Triangulary and trapezoidally distributed loads fall under this category.

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