Understanding the importance of steel detailing

Structural steel detailing is a necessary process for all kinds of manufacturing and construction activities. These activities include the erection of residential and commercial buildings, the constructions of factories and institutes, and shipbuilding.

The process of steel detailing establishes crucial communication links throughout the web of involved professionals, such as engineers, architects, contractors, and fabricators.

Because of its important role in structural engineering, steel detailing requires near 100% accuracy. A tiny error in calculation or execution can set off a chain reaction of events that can cost a project’s valuable time and money. Steel detailing exists to keep each of the professionals involved in the process as focused and faithful to a building’s blueprints as possible.

Steel detailing revolves around the creation of detailed drawings to be used by fabricators and contractors. The drawings already include plans and estimates for each building, as well as other reports and tasks relevant and crucial for the successful completion of a project.

Two kinds of drawing involved in steel detailing

A proper steel detailing process makes use of two kinds of drawings: shop drawings and erection drawings.

  • Also called detail drawings, are highly precise and detailed drawings of each steel piece or component to be made by a steel fabricator. They are often made for columns, beams, joints, trusses, braces, and other construction material steel.

They include material specifications, component sizes and dimensions, surface specs, welding, bolting, and painting details and any other information necessary for the fabrication of each steel component. Since shop drawings are only useful for fabrication purposes, they do not include information about the erection or installation of the individual steel components.

  • Erection drawings, on the other hand, display plans in dimension and locate each steel component within the overall structure. These drawings include information about the positioning of each component, their installation requirements, and the installation of other components that hold the steel component in place (bolts, wedge anchors, and welding spots, for example).

Other stages involved in steel detailing

The steel detailing process also involves other stages, such as reinforcing steel detailing, anchor setting plans, steel design, connectivity diagrams, shop bolt summary, and Bill of Material (BoM).

Due to steel detailing’s crucial status in construction and the tiny margin of error allowed for the process, there are standards it must comply with. These standards are set by institutions in different countries like:

  • American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)

  • American Welding Society (AWS)

  • National Institute of Steel Detailing (NISD)

  • Canadian Institute of Steel Construction

  • Australian Institute of Steel Detailing (AISD)

  • Euro Codes and British Standard Codes

In relation to the steel detailing process, each professional is entrusted with specific responsibilities. The structural engineer ensures the design, strength and integrity of the erected steel structures.

The architect, on the other hand, must make sure that the structure complies with the major plan dimensions and the building codes of the location. Finally, the detailer is responsible for getting the steel detailing drawings approved by the structural engineer and the architect prior to release for fabrication.

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