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Shop Talk with Steve
Estimator's Corner
The Project Manager
Steel Advice - The Fabricator's Resource
Dedicated to support the steel fabricator with real world solutions to real world problems.
October 2011
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The Steel Erector
Creating QC Standards
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The Project Manager
The key element to expedient and accurate steel fabrication is to have clear and concise shop detail drawings.

There are industry standards for steel shop detail drawings, though many steel fabricators, as well as steel detailers are ignorant to this since they simply have not been exposed to this level of expertise.

The job can and does get done without attention to the standards, though this is not the way to get the job done AND make good money at it.

Ignorance to industry standard is tolerated because not enough attention is directed at the serious impact this has to fabrication time.

If you want more information on this subject, contact The National Institute of Steel Detailing by clicking on the link below. Each area has a local chapter that will be happy to hook you up with certified steel detailers that have been trained to create drawings within the industry standard requirements.

As project manager, you are responsible for making the projects come within budget. One cost that you have little control over is the shop fabrication labor. It is the labor hours expended to the job that will make or break any project.

We seldom think about the shop detail drawings as being a possible source for labor hour overages. Generally, this is because we believe the workers in our shop can build anything by using any drawing, as long as the drawing is correct. The problem with this belief is that it keeps us from realizing how the shop detail drawings truly affect the whole process of steel fabrication.

Our main goal with steel detail drawings is to get them purchased within the assigned budget. We believe that as long as approval submittal dates are kept, the drawings are legible and pass the necessary approvals, all is well. And all is well, until the labor hours push into overtime and delivery schedules get delayed.

We do not question the workability of the shop detail drawings even when we begin to experience a steady stream of questions that come from the shop. We tend to think that the interpretative skills of the workers is what needs to be improved. We seldom consider that the source of the problem is as simple as the presentation of the parts on the shop detail drawings.

Consider for a moment how much time is spent reviewing drawings by the workers. First, the drawings are reviewed by the shop foreman or superintendent. Next, they are reviewed by the lead man or fitter, followed by quality control. The welders and coaters might be added to this list. If each one of these workers has to take an extra five minutes studying the part to make sure they are being built correctly, that would be an 20 or 30 minutes of extra labor time per piece.

In many cases, this is more time than it takes to build the part. Multiply this additional time by the number of parts in the project and you will have the basis for the job running over budget on labor hours, and missed delivery dates.

Imagine a project where there are few or no questions from the shop. Imagine finishing a project within the budget for labor hours or even with labor hours left over. It is possible, though it is up to the project manager to make choices with the steel detailing that will make this a reality.
Too Much Information?
Recognizing Problematic Shop Detail Drawings
Too much information at the shop detail drawings can be as problematic as not enough.

Extra dimensions and reference elevations on a shop drawing that are not directly relevant to the fabrication of the part will always make the reader wonder.

Extraneous information on shop detail drawings should be removed so the reader will not become confused.

Click on the link below to review sample details and give us your opinion of these drawings by return email!
Industry Standards make all the difference!
Review Sample
National Institute of Steel Detailing