Excellent Fabrication Drawings Require Expertise and Experience

09 January 2020

As every construction project executive knows only too well, fabrication drawings are densely detailed documents. Without that detail, the fabrication shop tasked with the job of forming all of a structure’s many discrete building elements into one cohesive whole wouldn’t be able to do their job properly. It would be like trying to do a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle; all the puzzle pieces would refuse to snap together, thus leaving the puzzler wholly vexed.

Utilizing Fabrication Drawing Design Excellence

To be honest, it’s a little more serious than that. Unlike a flat jigsaw puzzle, a construction project is massive, and it covers all three dimensions. The heavy steel elements are welded and riveted together, so there’s no casual snapping of tiny puzzle pieces here. But the metaphor still holds true, with geometrical precision ruling every step of the work. To the very last required decimal place, fabrication shop measurements are labelled on the drawings. Angles are marked so that many metres long steel beams meet. Drill holes and weld zones line up, architectural accents receive bends and cuts in the shop that correspond to exactingly placed mounting points, and the materials used in this process agree precisely with a structure’s load-bearing specifications.

Only Seasoned Shop Planners Need Apply

There’s no way an apprentice drawings intern can take charge of a project like this. No, experience counts here more than anything else. Think about it, there are countless variables to keep track of during the creation of any project-viable set of fabrication drawings. To be brutally honest, an inexperienced detailer can’t possibly stay abreast of every task, not with any amount of authority. Here’s where expertise and experience make the difference. For example, material selection can affect dimensional consistency. Imagine a high weld temperature, which causes a dimensional shift, just a tiny change in the size of an opening or length of a steel frame piece. If such material foibles go unaddressed, then the accurate measurements used in the fabrication shop will most likely yield a piece mating discrepancy.

The repercussions would be unacceptable if the fabrication drawings no longer produced perfectly sized frame pieces. Angled joints would no longer correspond to the plans, nor would the architectural overlay mount as it was meant to. As one possible consequence of this material-caused, measurement corrupted defect, the framework could no longer be commissioned as a load-bearing structure. Revisions would be required, costs would soar, and project schedules would require reworking. Tracked back along the chain of construction processes, an inexperienced detailing officer would be found to be at fault. Providing detailed fabrication drawings, measurements and scales and graphically-dense shop forming instructions, the services of an expert, experienced detailing officer really are essential here.