Steel detailing software has been in the mainstream now for well over a two decades but large swathes of the steel fabrication industry still adopt tried and tested manual methods to deliver projects to their customers.
These traditional practices of course work and it cannot be argued either as you have only to look at the engineering feats of the Victorian era when great engineering projects where planned and delivered with no more than a pencil and paper and the skill and knowledge of the engineer. So what’s the difference now and why change?
The biggest principal difference is of course the driving factors of the market place itself, which cannot be ignored. In the first instance there is more competition so in order to remain profitable and win business, tenders have to be a lot more accurate and businesses that are adopting the old rule of thumb “over-estimating” methods often find themselves losing more tenders than they are winning.
Secondly, fabrication companies are finding that they are required to tender more often than before and principal clients are expecting a much faster turnaround of the tender documents. This ultimately will either result in a business using traditional estimation methods missing the tender deadline or delivering inaccurate tenders which can either result in them losing the project, or much worse, actually winning the projects but then having to complete the job at a loss.
One of the benefits that steel detailing software delivers is its ability to aid the tender process by automating the delivery of fast and accurate estimations of project costs and associated material costs. This enables businesses using the software to provide quick and accurate proposals so they invariably find themselves winning a higher percentage of projects than they would otherwise, and at the same time they are aware of the walk away price so rarely take on jobs at a loss.
Another driving change in the market place is time compression and projects are now expected to be completed in much shorter time frames. Invariable in any project there are changes that are made to the original scheme, some of these are driven by the architects and engineers and others are build related, that is to say the elements of the original plan have to change for some reason, perhaps to accommodate additional services or structures.
Change management can be very challenging for fabricators as often especially on larger projects this involves a large amount of drawing and detail revision but the project deadline remains the same. It is also an area that is prone to errors due to time pressures and this can seriously erode the profitability of the project.
This is where another one of the major benefits of steel detailing software come into play. Steel design and detailing software enables companies to make even radical design changes and updates of design documentation an order of magnitude faster than can be done using traditional methods or even using 2D cad.
In addition because this process is then easily traceable using inbuilt revision and document management functionality, changes can easily be tracked and costs passed back to the customer where appropriate to increase the profitability of the job. This is a far cry from using paper or 2d cad methods where this extra work (and potential profit) is simply absorbed into the project costs as the business simply does not have the time or methodology in place to properly track and document these profit earning changes.
This article only highlights some of the benefits that businesses gain from using specialist steel detailing software and why companies employing this technology are invariably more profitable nowadays than their competitors who are still relying on manual traditional design and detailing methods.