The Structural Steel Detailing Process

02 December 2019

Without a shadow of a doubt, structural steel detailing, when viewed as a matter of load-bearing logistics, is a supremely important discipline. Without balance, without full support integrity ingrained into every infrastructural element, every beam and truss included, then a building cannot develop into an adequately stabilized construct. This, then, is the job of the structural steel detailing process, to map out and draw in every frame and fastener element, to turn thousands of moving parts into one wholly operational structure.

Steel Detailing As a Looping Offsite Process

In the past, this was a linear operation. The detailed drawings were exhaustively inked in on drafting paper or keyed in within a computer’s workspace until every material asset and frame dimension was defined. Today, there’s more of a non-linear loop to navigate. Before the drawings are sent to the contractors, they’re analysed repeatedly. From here, simulations are run in computers and changes are made to the drawings. Maybe tougher tempered steels replace a milder alloy because there are wind effects or seismic tremors to compensate for in a certain region. An additional floor goes into a structure, then more support elements and tougher fastening elements replace previous parts, all so that the required load-bearing overhead is maintained. Then, when the revisions are done, the plans and drawings are finalized and the steel detailing process communicates the latest plan iteration. This is the erection drawings, as used by the building contractors.

Communications Modes in Steel Detailing

The beams and pillars are heavily outlined in the drawings. Detailed steel frame sections connect to one another to create an array of alloy-reinforced grid squares, which project upwards and sideways. There are trusses and weldments securing all the beams. Communicating those load-bearing requirements, the steel detailing team coordinates each stage of the project with the steel fabricator and the construction managers. If there’s a prefabrication phase to be done, the schedule associated with this phase meshes with the onsite work, all while the steel detailing process serves as a project focal point. Truly, and this point cannot be emphasized enough, the integrity of a project relies upon what’s provided by a set of structural steel detailing drawings. To provide a 99.9% degree of drift-free error correction, this type of non-linear, simulation looping planning is incredibly important during a building’s planning phase.

Again, the detailing work, the measuring of steel elements and provisioning of correct material resources, plus that essential shop drawing phase, all of these planning phases are incredibly important. Not a single one can be considered superfluous. Before the erection plans can be approved and passed over to the site contractors, the structural steel detailing process must apply this non-linear procedural phase, which details infrastructural fittings, steel beams dimensions and truss locations. Shown graphically like this, structural integrity issues are easily resolved.