Structural steel design and fabrication is a complex process. Not only do you need to generate the design for your final construction project, but it needs to go through various sets of hands to make sure it’s a proper fit. This means meeting with the final design concepts that the architect came up with, being affordable enough for your client, and meeting all the relevant codes for the building inspector.
With this many people offering input on your work, there’s going to be a lot of questions. This is something that you should be doing as well, to make sure that you discover and address potential issues before they arise.
So, with that in mind, here are some key questions that need to get asked before you embark on your next structural steel design project.
Are We Going To Be Outsourcing?
Not every steel company is going to have the same expertise in every area. For example, you may know structural steel joint design inside and out, but aren’t as clear when it comes to things like blasting and painting. This is largely because disciplines like those tend to change and evolve very quickly, so only contractors specializing in those areas are going to be able to keep with the trends. Subcontracting is popular as a result.
Answering this question quickly is important because a lot of parties need to be kept in the loop in that regard. Your clients need to know for the sake of transparency, and your team leadership needs to know so they can properly manage the subcontractor as well as your direct team.
Do Our Certifications/Qualifications Match The Job?
The desire to try and expand your product offering is appealing to any business. Steel fabricators are no different. However, you need to be mindful when taking this approach to any construction job. Steelwork is regulated by a tight network of certifications and licenses that your company needs to have in order to do certain jobs. It’s essential that you know what those requirements are ahead of time to make sure that you are properly qualified. Failing to do so could mean serious legal issues and possibly the end of your business, on top of an unhappy customer.
Say that you’re looking at a job you want to bid on, but you know that you’re missing a certain certification. In this case, the question may be, “What do I have to do to be able to work on this job?” Even if you don’t qualify for that first one, this can serve as a guiding moment to what you want to work on next.
What Type of Equipment Do We Need?
Steelwork is inherently reliant on certain types of equipment due to the weight, size, and dimensions of the materials involved. Chances are that you already have some of the baseline equipment for the job, but you still want to do an inventory of what you have. For example, there may be one specific facet of the job that you want to rent a specialized piece of equipment for, since you don’t do it often. You should also be looking into the condition of your equipment as well. If you see something is coming up due for a service check, it may be a good idea to get that done early before the actual job starts.
In addition, you also want to do a check and make sure you have adequate amounts of safety equipment in PPE, all in ideal working condition.
How Will All The Teams Be In Communication?
As we mentioned before, steel fabrication design requires a lot of different parties to provide their input, and it’s likely that they’re not all going to be in the same place. It’s important that you have an idea of how all these different parties are going to communicate with each other, especially when going over the initial plans. This can be done over the phone, through video conferencing, or other methods, but you just need to make sure that everyone is on board so the job can be done effectively.
One thing worth considering is investing in cloud storage. This isn’t necessarily a communication platform, but a good complement for one. Putting your blueprints and financial documents in a cloud-accessible format means that everyone can at least work from the same thing while communicating.
What Do We Do After Assembly?
This is something that doesn’t get discussed as often as it should. Naturally, most companies work to make sure the design and assembly stages go as smoothly as possible, but what happens after assembly is over is important as well? For one thing, you need to have a set workflow for safety checks to ensure that the job was completed according to building codes as well as the original design documents. There also needs to be a plan to dispose of any construction byproducts and remove any equipment from the job site. Finally, you need to create a communication pipeline to the client so they can see the final product and provide their approval.
Are We Implementing Project Management Software?
Along with your basic structural steel design questions like we’ve mentioned above, it’s also a good idea to ask about the type of software that your team is going to be using. This includes structural steel design software, but you also want to make sure there is project management software available. Using project management software like eSUB is invaluable for structural steel design. This helps keep track of the materials and labor involved so you can create a proper estimate for your customers. In addition, you can keep important information stored in the cloud, like:
- -Structural steel design codes
- -Blueprints/structural steel design examples
- -Safety regulations
- -Client updates
This makes sure everyone involved in a structural steel design project is working from the same information.