Technology in Steel Detailing: Software Used & Emerging Areas

November 13, 2020

Today technology has taken over to make a structural steel detailer’s job easier and diverse.

The field where manual drafting was the mainstay for years and was earlier managed with pencils, pens, protractors, and then calculators has today gone digital. Most detailers have moved on to computer-aided drafting, also known as CAD. Steel detailers can draw out their imaginations on a digital pad which can then be printed out on paper for 2D projects or printed as a 3D representation.

3D BIM Technology

One of the emerging technologies is 3D BIM (Building Information Modelling). TEKLA, the 3D BIM software, is very popular in the industry and in the last two years has ranked fourth as an important and potent tool for the PEB (per-engineered building) industry. Being faster than 2D detailing, it is well equipped to handle any problem areas. BIM software are used for modelling once the designing is done. Once the model is completed, it gives a list of raw materials, dispatch list, shop floor drawings for fabrication, etc.

BIM is useful to integrate essential and crucial services for large projects. 3D model have many benefits over 2D drafting.

It is easier to bring in changes

It is easier to handle complex shapes

There is no danger of miss alignments at projects sites as all agencies from detailing, fabrication and erection work on the same model.

Site Fabrication and Nesting Software

Site fabrication is common and widely used in the PEB industry, but there are better alternatives. PEB plants are equipped with high speed CNC plate cutting machines offering burr free cutting using Plasma or Oxy as fuel and nesting software minimize scrap generation.

CNC punching and drilling helps to make holes for connections and are very important for proper alignments at site. MIG machines are useful for welding clips, etc. Techniques like Shot blasting and Sand blasting are used to prepare surfaces for painting.

CNC Machines

CNC cold roll forming machines with auto pinching and shearing are used to produce C/Z purling, roof and wall cladding. CNC folding machines manufacture trims and accessories. There are other specialized machines which are used for manufacturing of different accessories like down take pipes, anchor bolts, clips etc.

Designing Softwares

Most structural engineers use STAAD (from Bentley) to do structural analysis. MBS (Metal Building Software) which gives the most accurate estimation, designing and detailing of PEB buildings, along with shipping lists and 3D drawings is a widely used and popular software. Now the PEB industry is showing its strength in infrastructure – building bridges, power transmission, metro rails, complex structures like airports, high-rise and multi-stored buildings, and industrial projects.

Along with MBS, there are some other in-house software used for detailing.

Benefits of Structural Steel Detailing Software

The structural steel industry workers are skilled in masterful logic and reason and have specialized training in all mathematical areas.

The primary benefit of using a structural steel detailing software is that the user has the added skills of computer usage and the specific software. Once they master it, trigonometry and geometry are at their fingertips without being memorized or calculated manually.

The benefit of having a 2D print version gives the steel detailer the chance to show a mock-up to the client first before producing a 3D rendering which requires time and capital. The steel detailing software also keeps track of any changes or edits made to the original plans. It is very convenient when feedback can be followed as it helps to makes workflow smoother with the creator and client deciding on what best suits them both. Instead of drawing several rounds, quick changes can be made and kept in notation in case there is a need to revert back later.

Using structural steel detailing software lessens human error, promotes cohesive brain-storming, and makes the job easier.

The PEB industry is well equipped and all set to play a much bigger role. It uses the most modern technologies in the world. The new airports are a fine example showcasing PEB industry. The housing sector has been dominated by RCC buildings but the new PEB technologies available are geared to replace RCC. Steel buildings using composite structures can play a crucial role in providing mass housing to the lower income level. Steel has been used in the high rise buildings but the game changer is that it offers great opportunity in low/medium rise buildings too.