The Importance of Structural Steel Detailing in Modern Construction

25 September 2019

According to a dictionary definition, structural steel detailing professionals are master designers who create blueprints for contractors and fabricators. The plans contain exceptionally in-depth diagrammatic particulars. Dimensions, steel beam layouts, beam and truss connections, even the resource lists required to carry out the project, all of these informational specifics are typically part of a structural steel detailing service. If that image doesn’t hit home, imagine the process as a design to workshop bridge.

Structural Steel Detailing: A Workshop-Essential Exercise

If the architects and engineers have done their job right, a structure has been planned out to the nth degree. All the steel beams and braces and architectural elements are in the plan. On top of that, there’s the steel plating and concrete cladding. However, workshop personnel can’t work off of an architect’s plans. They need documents and blueprints that provide fabrication and assembly-oriented data. Complete with an attached list of project materials, the drawings accurately illustrate the size and position of every building component so that the fabricator knows where he stands in what’s essentially a complex processing pipeline.

Compiling the Blueprints and Assembly Drawings

For the vision of a three-dimensional building framework to be properly realized, every measurement, every minuscule dimensional and angular beam length and brace breadth has to be appended to the drawings. As for the rest, it’s not enough to have a blueprint full of beam locations and their dimensions. No, the fabricators require assembly-level drawings, too. These erection blueprints include more practical features, such as weld points and fastener holes. Crane lift zones and the actual order in which the parts will be erected are also incorporated into the erection documents as well.

Modern Structural Detailing Enhancements

Like everything else, computers are taking over. The creation of the drawings are still very much under the control of a steel detailing professional, but the proprietary program adds handy digital tools to the workflow. From this data, shop drawings and material lists are automatically generated. With some software packages, the program can even generate all the necessary machine codes and send them instantaneously to a CNC station so that the fabrication work can commence. Other industry innovations include cost-effective feasibility study modellers, faster framework erection technologies, and concurrently run fabrication processes.

For that last feature, the blueprints are transformed into shop drawings and erection documents in some distant office. From there, they’re automatically sent over to the workshop as multi-stage workshop instructions. Using this structural steel detailing process, a higher degree of work parallelism is incorporated into the work. With numerical codes and material resources streaming off a modern computing network, the I.T based system eliminates fabricator downtime and keeps the detailing-to-fabrication work pipeline continually in-sync.