What Steel Erectors Want Detailers To Know

I am still fascinated by the journey of a steel project – from design to those final moments as beams are hoisted into place.

But, while detailers like myself know what we want to see improved in our collaborations with fabricators and erectors, it’s crucial to get the other side of the story.

That’s why I’m making a point of regularly talking to erectors.

Here’s a take from their perspective – with insights from fabricators coming soon!

Here’s the thing: It’s not just about getting feedback (though that’s important).  It’s about reigniting my understanding of the issues faced on the ground and learning how I can do better.

Here are a few areas where open communication between detailers and erectors can make a massive difference:

The Sequencing Puzzle:  A perfect plan on paper can fall apart when reality hits. Take that example: A long-span canopy structure with unusual geometry required very specific sequencing and support points for erection. Collaborating with the erector early on in detailing these connections and supports was crucial to ensure the structure went up as intended.
Collaboration on these details was essential.

Making Connections (Literally):  Are they safe to build?  Easy to access?  Do they meet OSHA requirements? It’s frustrating for everyone when a small design decision causes problems for a team with a crane in the air!  Detailers can make life so much easier by considering construction realities alongside the design.

Avoiding the “Field Fix”: We all want to minimize field welding and cutting. Clear detailing and proactive communication prevent costly delays when site modifications are absolutely necessary.  Even details like how beams fit together can matter, or whether a pre-fabricated assembly makes more sense than hours of field work.

Steel Structure Installation - Field Welding
Steel Structure Installation – Field Welding
Photo: Unsplash

Drawings that Work: Paper might seem old-school, but clear, durable drawings that highlight what matters on-site are worth their weight in gold for the erection crew. A detailer has to consider sun glare, mud and high winds when thinking about how that information reaches the field.

Beyond the Basics:  Sometimes the conversation uncovers an even bigger opportunity. Is there a chance that a slightly revised design or fabrication approach could speed up the whole project while saving steel? Maybe it’s adding a few more shop welds to cut down on costly field connections.

“They don’t pay me for this s..t” approach doesn’t work for me. It’s these moments of collaboration that are incredibly rewarding.

Talking to erectors reminds me that I’m not just creating drawings, I’m playing a part in the success and safety of an entire project. That’s the kind of responsibility that gets me out of bed in the morning!

About the Author:

Igor Goriatchev – Owner & CEO at ESD Solutions. Helping Fabricators To Make Steel Real. We simplify steel detailing workflows and deliver accurate, error-free detailing solutions.

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