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A Hospital being built to pass the test!!

BDS VirCon is currently involved in detailing an...


The Australian Steel Convention 2017

Steeling Australia's Infrastructure...


Steel Fabrication In Australia

Australian’s first attempt at steel fabrication...

In This Issue
7 BIM News and Topics you shouldnt miss in May 2017
A guide to debt collection for your business
A Hospital being built to pass the test!!
AGM 2016
ASI Welding Course for 2017
Augmented Reality
Eliminating the Human
The Australian Steel Convention 2017
Brisbane Construction and the New Queens Wharf
AISD Member Profile
The Story of Steel Fabrication In Australia
What do you do for a living?
When should you move from being a sole trader to a company?


7 BIM news and topics you shouldnt miss in May 2017

For all those interested in BIM and where technology is headed, here is a list of articles I came across in Linkedin:

I particularly like the BIM road map explaining the levels of BIM and where BIM is expected to be in 2020:

For some interesting BIM developments in 2017:

And for those of you who like nothing better than reading BIM reports, crack open a stubbie and get stuck into this one:

A guide to debt collection for your business

It's no secret that positive cash flow is the life blood of any business. Few people enjoy chasing valued customers for unpaid accounts, but to keep the cash flowing through your business it's crucial to stay on top of your outstanding debtors. The need for follow up correspondence cannot be stressed enough when it comes to chasing money. By following the rules and etiquette of debt recovery you will enjoy greater success and less stress.

So let's start at the point where the first invoice and statement have not been paid. You should send the invoice again with a friendly reminder letter as per the template below if the first invoice remains unpaid.

So what happens if you receive no response within 7 days?

Make the phone calls and remember to remain calm and confident at all times. Make sure you have all the information about the debt on hand when you make the call or approach the customer face to face if they happen to be close by. Don't get personal, unjustified threats or intimidation tactics are contrary to law and can work against you if legal proceedings are commenced. Maintain a professional approach, no matter how badly done by you may feel. When reminder notices and polite calls fail to achieve the desired response a 'Letter of Demand' can render positive results.

A Letter of Demand serves two purposes.

It sends a clear signal to the debtor that you are prepared to start legal proceeding unless the debt is paid.

A Hospital being built to pass the test!!
By Wayne Hargreaves, BDS VirCon

BDS VirCon is currently involved in detailing an 18 story hospital in California, USA. The hospital will not only be the tallest building in San Bernardino County, but it will also be considered one of the safest in the state. The project is implementing a first-of-its-kind vertical earthquake isolation system which separates the building from the ground using more than 500 vertical shock absorbers—a large-scale version of a modern car suspension system. Working hand-in-hand with a lateral earthquake isolation system of sliding bearings and dampers, the system will protect patients and staff from injury while keeping the hospital operational following a potentially catastrophic magnitude 7.9 earthquake on the nearby San Jacinto Fault.

In more detail, the hospital is made up of 6 main podium levels before the building splits into two towers, a 10 storey Children’s hospital and an 18 storey Adult’s hospital. This new structure is an extension to an existing hospital which has been built in the seismic active area. Due to the seismic activity, the building incorporates a number of seismic resistant design concepts such as Sideplate technology and Buckling-Restrained Braces as well as an extremely complex base level that has a grand total of zero traditional anchor/holding down bolts to the foundation.

The above image is of the base level and consists of (from the foundation up):

  1. Steel plated pedestals. These pedestals do not directly fix to the foundations. There are four pins, one in each corner, the pins range from 6” to 12” diameters and are guided by post grouted sleeves that contain Nyloil guide bushings. Additional to the pins there are seismic spring mounts (shaded yellow in image) bolted to each side of the pedestals.
  2. Secured to the top of the steel pedestals are triple pendulum bearing isolators (shaded blue in image).  These bearings provide approximately 3’-6” of movement in all directions.
  3. Fixing atop of the bearings is the first level of steel framing which consist of 60” deep plate girders with flange material up to 4” thick and web material up to 3 ½” thickness.  Typically, the plate girders are spliced together with bolted splice plates, however there are a few splices that require field welding.  Where the plate girders intersect, a plated box section filled with concrete house the building column profiles which extend through to the base of the plate girders.
  4. Finally, to complete the seismic design there are fluid viscous damper braces which fix the plate girders back to the foundations via an embedded plate bracket.


AGM 2016

On Wednesday the 23rd of November 2016 the AGM for the AISD QLD was held at Diana Plaza Woolloongabba. The evening kicked off with drinks and nibblies at the bar before the official proceedings began. In total there were 20 attendees at the event.

Message from the President

Welcome to the 2016 AGM of the AISD (Qld) Inc.

We have a lot planned for you tonight in hope that we can start some conversations around a number of topics that I think will be of interest to our members. With that said, I’ll get straight down some preliminary points of business.

As we close down the 2015 -16 year for the AISD Qld, we also begin the process of closing down the organisation in its current form. You may recall that we’ve been discussing the rationalisation of the various state management committees to form a single, National body of the AISD.

The sustainability of the state-based management structure was first raised at the National Steering Committee meeting on the Gold Coast in September of 2014. It was identified as a major weakness of the AISD and remains a significant threat to the future of the organisation as the only representative body for steel detailers in Australia.

Since 2014, there have been numerous meetings & discussions about the causes & effects for this weakness and how best to proceed in order to maintain the momentum that the organisation has built up since its establishment 10 years ago.

In its current form, the AISD exists only as state-based groups with each state having its own management committee and constitution etc. It is apparent that many of these management committees have reached or in fact stretched the limit of their voluntary commitment and are struggling for succession. It’s also clear that many of the members have disengaged from the organisation or at least lost touch with the original passion for industry motivation & support.

In short, they have run their race and are out of puff. It's time now for them to review how their energy and passion for the future representation of this industry is best spent.

Your Queensland management committee discussed this task at length and prepared a list of suggestions, or rather a pathway, to achieve a workable & sustainable solution to this threat and deliver, what we believe, is the best possible outcome for our industry.

So, in September of this year, at the National Steering committee meeting in Melbourne, a motion was raised and passed to put this plan into action and roll the state groups into single, national body. The motion included every point in the Queensland plan.

Key elements of the Framework for AISD Nationalisation

  • The National management committee should be based in Brisbane.
  • The initial Management will consist of the current AISD Queensland management committee plus one representative from each state. The Secretary & Treasurer should be Brisbane based.
  • Adopt the Queensland constitution, membership criteria & fee structures.
  • Wind-up existing state based management committees.
  • The National AGM would take place at the National Steel Detailers forum on the Tuesday afternoon, after the Convention.

By the end of this next term, the process will have been completed.

The will be another list of things to do in order to make this happen, where details will need to be fleshed out. Details such as;

  • Re-naming the AISD (Qld) Inc
  • Funding & budgets
  • Website
  • Newsletter
  • Interstate committee members etc.

We would like our members to be in the moment with this. We want your buy-in & ownership of these details, so any suggestions or input is most welcome. If you want any more information about the process, please let me know.

AGM Formalities

  • Financial report was delivered by Brad and the audit was accepted with a majority show of hands
  • All office positions were made vacant and Phil presented nominations.
  • The new committee for 2017 is:
    • Clayton Roxborough (President)
    • Brad Backer (Treasurer)
    • Phil Shanks (Secretary)
    • Peter Hempsall
    • Tim Rachow
    • Joe Biggs
    • Mark Kelly
    • John Gardner of the ASI – honorary member
  • These positions were accepted unanimously by all present at the meeting
  • It was proposed that Hallahan and Co were appointed auditors for the following year, this was moved by Clayton and 2nd by Brad

AGM Meeting closed at 6.00pm
General meeting opened at 6.00pm

Chaired by Clayton. – A brief summary of 2016

At the general meetings in In past years, I’ve presented an overview of what the Institute has been doing for Queensland’s Steel Detailers over the course of the previous 12 months and shared a few of my thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing the steel detailing and construction industries.

By in large, the committee’s work has been of a similar size & flavour to that of previous years.

  • Committee meetings
  • Newsletters
  • ASI Technical Committee
  • Australian Steel Convention – ECI & IPD
  • October – QUT Lecture 3rd year engineering
  • National Detailers Forum - Melbourne
  • Steel Excellence awards
  • AISD - IPD awards

All good & noble purposes and deeds, but tonight I want to discuss a particular event. An event that nearly slipped under the radar and as yet, has barely raised a ripple of chatter in industry circles. That event was the buy-out of the two biggest steel detailing firms in this country.

For the employees & clients of BDS Vircon & PDC Global, I’m sure the company did everything possible to make this a seamless and stress free transition, but for others in the industry, I would have thought that this news would be of significant interest. When I heard the news, first that PDC has been sold, and later that BDS had also been sold, and later still that they had both been acquired by the same parent company, DBM Global, I was flabbergasted.

At first I struggled with it …. What do I make of this ….. and things started to dawn on me … slowly at first but then things became clearer. And the consequences continue to reveal themselves to me. Firstly, that DBM Global have balls of steel. But what else?
On a personal note, BDS was once my employer and one of my first clients as Steelcad. In more recent years, PDC was my biggest client…. by a considerable margin. I have good friends at both places. But what else? There are the obvious comparisons between the two companies as world leaders in modelling & detailing of steel structures but we can get to that later. But what about the training they provide to Australian steel detailers, their contributions to the local industry, to the AISD, to establishing national standards of practice, of quality … and then upholding them. Who is going to fill these shoes? Obviously, PDC & BDS are not going anywhere, but I can’t help feeling that with foreign ownership, the game has changed.

Another observation to be draw from this is that DBM Global have understood the value of quality documentation, early engagement of construction modellers and the full worth of complete, accurate and controlled information, the kind that BDS & PDC deliver in spades.

I believe that it is only a matter of time before this wave of realisation begins to break on Australian builders. Certainly, the early signs are there that the tide is rising. It’s now up to each of us to ensure this rising tide raises all our boats.

Break for Dinner 6.30pm
Guest speakers

Speaker No 1.
Arun Syam, business Development Manager at Onesteel delivered a presentation on the history of BHP. He explained the reasons behind the breakup of BHP over the years into three focused divisions –

  • Onesteel / Arrium – Long Products
  • BHP Billiton – Mining
  • Bluescope Steel – Flat Products.

In explaining the history he was able to describe the problems with Arrium and its recent slide into voluntary administration and how Arrium plans to trade its way out of it. The feeling was that there is a high chance they can trade their way out, by making further changes to the business.

Speaker No 2.
Glen Baillie of BDS delivered a presentation on the project they submitted for the ASI IPD award – The Crestmead Cullet Processing Plant.

He explained how they were recommended to the client by Beca to be engaged early to work with the consultants to sort out problems and deliver shop detail drawings of the steelwork for the project.

This was a complex upgrade to an existing industrial materials processing development. With a project size of 50 tonnes of structural and mechanical steelwork, the design finalisation & detailing schedule ran for 4 and a half months.

The design of the chute work required to transition the material from vendor equipment to a particular conveyor was relayed to Beca/BDS by way of hand drawn colour coded concept sketches and an overall process diagram. From this point Beca & BDS worked collaboratively to take this raw concept information through to completed design & detailing.

Speaker No. 3.
Phil Shanks summarised BIM articles and some others of interest which were published in the Last Newsletter for 2016.

ASI welding course for 2017

The ASI is currently holding their welding course at TAFE Queensland SkillsTech (247 Bradman Street, Acacia Ridge)

I have already presented to the attendees along with Glenn Gibson of Idec Solutions to give a Steel Deteailer and Fabricator experience to welding.


Some of the welding topics we will discuss are:

  • The factors which influence weld specification
    • Design requirements
    • Manufacturing requirements
    • Material Selection
    • Costs



The Fabricator also goes into detail on material certification and test pieces.

From a Detailer's perspective I present:

  • What is the AISD
  • What is the Role of a Detailer
  • Welding in the Shop
  • Welding on site
  • Weld access
  • The future of Steel Detailing

I have a copy of the Fabricator's presentation and there is a lot of informative content in it which I plan to show at this year's AGM. I have participated in the welding course myself and found it very interesting, not only from the perspective of learning about weld specification and testing but to physically handle material and try different welding techniques. This is a course the AISD thoroughly recommends to all its members so please consider it for 2018.

The course is aimed mainly at Engineers, so its a perfect opportunity to explain who the AISD is and what Role Detailer's play in the delivery of Steel to site.

To register your interest, please contact John Gardner, Australian Steel Institute (

Augmented Reality

Earlier in the year we had the Building Point guys come to our office to show off a HoloLens - An Augmented Reality head set. It was most interesting.

We hear a lot about AR and VR and many may wonder what’s the difference and how does it affect us as Steel Detailers? We the difference simply is this:

  • AR (Augmented Reality) - Is placing a digital environment over the top of the environment you are currently in
  • VR (Virtual Reality) - Is immersing One's self into a digital environment

The HoloLens essentially, through the use of the headset, dumped a model into our office. We used one of our own projects and looked at it in 1:1 and 1:20. It was quite interesting but there wasn’t a great deal of use that could be had but the ideas of its potential soon started to sprout - for instance;

  • Architects could use AR or VR to sell a project to a client by giving them a realistic 1:1 impression of the finished product.
  • Builders should use AR on site to visualise the build.
  • Fabricators could use AR to assist in fabricating something complex, where it is difficult to show detail on a 2D drawing.

I really can’t see any use of AR or VR in Steel Detailing, however it is certain that our models would be invaluable to those downstream in fabrication and Construction when used by those guys.

Technology is really pushing ahead at a rapid pace and it’s difficult to see where the AEC industry will be in 10 years’ time. I do see tools like HoloLens becoming something of importance as the projects get more complex, there is a greater need for visualisation. In so many cases, providing 2D documentation to convey a message isn’t enough anymore.

Here are some reference links:

Eliminating the human

Like many of you, I like listening to music and some of my musical latest are a little eccentric in terms of the genres I tend to enjoy. I like music with a message and I especially like anyone whether they are a musician or writer who has something interesting to say.

David Byrne out of the Talking Heads is one such person and I subscribe to his website. He writes interesting articles mostly on his observations of humans and anyone knowing the music he has been involved with over the decades, has a pretty good understanding of technology - for instance, he and Brian Eno have been collaborators for years and are well known for their pioneering work on albums like "My life in the Bush of Ghosts" Whether you like the sounds isn’t really what music is all about, it can be just as interesting reading the back story and trying to get inside the minds of those who think a little differently.

I read this article a few weeks ago and found it very relevant. Its full of questions about Technology and brings to the reader references and information about technical advances which appear to be designed to Eliminate the Human. I’m sure as Detailers many of you wonder where things are heading in our world, having seen the changes over the past 10-15 years one can’t help but question it?

Byrne hones in on the faceless interaction we seem to have these days as a result of the Internet, tools such as messenger and Facebook coming to mind as means of communication without the need to actually look at someone. It seems that we are being conditioned to accept a faceless world - what will become of this phenomenon?

"While the appearance on social networks is one of connection—as Facebook and others frequently claim—the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real social connection. As has been in evidence recently, social media actually increases divisions amongst us by amplifying echo effects and allowing us to live in cognitive bubbles. We are fed what we already like or what our similarly inclined friends like… or more likely now what someone has paid for us to see in an ad that mimics content. In this way, we actually become less connected except to those in our group."

As a Steel Detailer in a technical age and being responsible for developing tech solutions and automation, I’m forever reminded by what I see that there is a great need for simplicity and human contact. I have developed some systems in the past which I regretted doing as they because too rigid and stemmed the Detailers’ ability to be creative. Some creativity needs to be measured but in some instances systems can be harmful.

I remember saying to Clayton some years back that I can see a future where cities are a thing of the past and we could interact from satellite offices or the home and I’m sure this could and may well happen. He looked at me and questioned the validity of the concept on a number of levels. Humans need contact, real contact, that’s just the way we are designed. I believe it important to question the validity of technology and its impact not only on one's working life, but ultimately the impact on our personal lives.

Hope you enjoy the article:

The Australian Steel Convention 2017
Steeling Australia's Infrastructure

The Australian Steel Convention 2017

This year’s Australian Steel Convention is to be held at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort on the Gold Coast commencing Sunday 17 to Tuesday 19 September, providing the perfect opportunity for our Queensland AISD members to attend this excellent event.

With State Governments plans to invest a whopping $115 billion on infrastructure works, the theme for this year is Steeling Australia’s Infrastructure. For the Australian steel supply chain's participation in this unprecedented commitment, we need to demonstrate why steel should be the material of choice in design criteria and how local inclusion can provide economical and compliant solutions for project delivery.

The Convention speakers have been carefully selected to provide insight into where the opportunities are and the cutting-edge smarts to being part of the action.

The AISD national detailer forum is on Day 2 of the convention, for industry to discuss their issues and opportunities. If you plan on attending the forum only, attendance is free to AISD members.

We hope you can join us in the pursuit of Steeling Australia’s Infrastructure.

Why you MUST attend!
The Australian steel industry's premier event

Enhance skills for you and your team while networking with others in the industry and enjoy yourself at the same time!

High profile speakers
The Convention is renowned for its high quality international and Australian speakers, and program sessions filled with in-depth content designed to increase professional development. This year we will make early announcements on the key industry leaders and noted experts in their field.

The perfect location
The Gold Coast is a key events destination in Australia, earning an enviable reputation for staging successful business, sporting, cultural and large scale events. The Gold Coast offers a capital city experience without the price tag. It offers highly competitive rates for accommodation, dining, venues and attractions.The Convention will be held at the award-winning Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, offering quiet luxury with spacious accommodation and intuitive service.

All inclusive registration
Includes all Convention sessions, Meet & Greet welcome reception, Gala Awards Dinner with entertainment, lunch, morning and afternoon teas, exhibition floor entry and Convention satchel. EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION IS AVAILABLE TO 31 JULY SO BOOK NOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE!

Partner tour
Our partner tour begins with a luxury canal cruise (one of the GC’s most popular tours), to view this famous destination from the water complete with a glass of bubbly. Following your personalised canal cruise, 'Inspiration' will moor at Marina Mirage, where a short stroll will take you to one of Surfers Paradise's best restaurants. 'Glass' awaits your dining pleasure for a relaxed two-course lunch.

Gala Awards Dinner
Enjoy top class food and entertainment as you celebrate another successful ASI Convention and join in presenting awards to the best performers in the industry.

Brisbane Construction and the New Queens Wharf

If you work in the construction industry in Brisbane, this is one project that is going to have an impact on you either directly or indirectly. In what’s been termed “the largest single development application in Queensland’s history”, Queens Wharf’s plans have been lodged for approval and a public consultation period will soon follow. The scale is enormous – $3 billion and approximately 10% of our CBD’s land area – the largest private sector development in our state. So, like it or not, inner-Brisbane will change as a result.

Yes there will be construction noise and dust and traffic headaches that won’t finish until around 2024. Probuild was announced as the successful tenderer for the Queen's Wharf Brisbane demolition works. This demolition is already under way with the creation of around 150 new jobs.

About $2 billion worth of building contracts for the giant Queen’s Wharf project will be up for grabs early next year in a much needed boost for the construction sector.

Destination Brisbane Consortium project director Simon Crooks recently told a Master Builders Queensland lunch that construction of the integrated resort will consume enough steel to build two Story Bridges (22,000 tonnes) and enough concrete for a footpath from Brisbane to Sydney.

Mr Crooks, who will oversee the project being built by Star Entertainment and Hong Kong-based partners Chow Tai Fook Enterprise and Far East Consortium, said information on a selective tender for major construction firms would soon be released.

These major firms would then contract the work out to smaller firms and subcontractors as the project progressed. It’s estimated that about 2000 workers will be involved during the peak of the project.

Other benefits of Queen's Wharf Brisbane include:

  • more than 12 football fields of redeveloped and enhanced public realm
  • a new pedestrian bridge to South Bank
  • an iconic signature “Arc” building, including a spectacular feature Sky Deck, with restaurants and bars fully accessible to the public
  • five new premium hotel brands - including the Ritz Carlton and Brisbane's first 6 star hotel
  • three residential towers
  • a new department store
  • around 50 new restaurants, cafes and bars
  • a riverfront moonlight cinema

It has a casino at its core, and it will add another 2000 new apartments to a high-rise residential construction market that’s been running hot for some years now.

The Sky Deck is the centrepiece of the project’s imagery so far, perched 100m high it’s got clear parallels with Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. Along with 1100 hotel rooms this will be a tourism icon that will help Queens Wharf attract an extra 1.39 million tourists to the city each year. A $1.69 billion increase in tourism spending for our state. The casino has been the focus of public concern, but if you’ve visited Marina Bay Sands their casino is tucked away, dwarfed by the shops and activity of a bustling and vibrant entertainment precinct. At Queens Wharf the casino will be around 5% of the built area so a similar outcome seems likely.

There’ll be lots of public open space to connect the CBD with the river, bringing life to that neglected space under the Riverside Expressway and mirroring the waterfront activity of South Bank, (Queens Wharf is actually bigger than South Bank – its 27 hectares adding to the 17 hectares on the southern side of the river). A new pedestrian bridge will link it to South Bank, right in front of The Wheel, connecting both sides of the river with the Botanic Gardens and parliamentary precinct back to Queen Street. Combined they offer hosts of boardwalks, parkland and places to get outside.

There are elements of other famous public spaces from around the world, but for locals there is an exciting shape of an emerging Brisbane in the approach. It embraces the outdoor lifestyle we treasure so much – on the Sky Deck and at the ground, and integrates important history of its neighbourhood. It will be a place to bring residents and tourists together, and provide a focal point for visitors to our city.

If you can spare the 21 minutes this video on Queens Wharf is well worthwhile. Or try the quick fly-around for a sense of the scale and architecture.


AISD Member Profile.
by Clayton Roxborough

The membership profile for our 2017 Autumn Edition of the Eye for Detail features the Chief Draftsman of Queensland firm, Steelcad Drafting.

I recently met with Graeme Enever in Steelcad’s Brisbane office for his thoughts on our industry and a reflection of his experiences in the Steel Construction industry.

AISD Member Profile.

Hi Graeme, can we start by getting some background so our readers know a bit more about you?

I’m 41 years old and I’ve lived in Brisbane my whole life.

So, what about your detailing experiences. What’s the professional story so far?

I've been working at Steelcad for 12 years now, before that I worked at a local design/construct company for 9 years. When I first started I was mostly doing structural design drawings. We didn’t start doing our own steel detailing in-house until a couple of years later once our drawing office got a bit bigger.

Is there anything about the early days of your career that you miss now?

Back in my design/construct days, there seemed to be a lot more time for site visits and workshop visits.

When I was a junior, I found that getting out to site was the best way to get a sense of the scale and reality of what we are doing. I really think that site visits and workshop visits are especially important for our juniors so that they can fully appreciate that what we do isn't just lines on paper and a fancy model on a computer screen. It's a real structure that somebody has to fabricate, and somebody else has to erect. And if we don't do our job properly, then it just won't work on site.

Can you tell us some more about your work, and your current role at Steelcad?

I'm primarily involved in the quality control and quality management side of things at Steelcad. In my day-to-day role I'm mostly checking, and I also manage our ISO 9001 Quality Management System. When we moved from 2D to 3D I also collaborated with our I.T. gurus to develop our systems so that we can do most of our checking in the 3D model environment rather than the traditional method of doing all the checking on the 2D drawings.

What’s involved with ISO 9001 and QMS? Was it a big change for the way you do things at Steelcad?

There is a perception that transitioning to ISO 9001 and adopting a Quality Management System is just more paperwork to navigate. But when implemented correctly it’s all about continually improving our systems and our product, which is what most companies want to achieve anyway.

Has there been a defining project or period for you professionally?

One project that stands out was the R.G. Tanna coal shipping terminal at Gladstone that I worked on back in 2006. Working on such a large and complex materials handling project like that was a real eye opener, especially after coming from a background of mostly industrial buildings and warehouses.

Can you define the most satisfying aspects of your work?

Seeing a completed project come together on site and knowing that you were an integral part of making it happen.

Unfortunately, most of the time we get to the end of our drawings, issue them to the client, and then we move on to the next project without looking back. But even if you can't get to site because of distance, it's worth giving the builder a call and asking for some site photos. Feedback from site (positive and negative) is critical to everyone in the drawing office for continual learning and improvement.

How would you compare your experiences as a detailer in the various places you've worked?

I have only worked for the two different companies, but they both have had their advantages. Back at the Design & Construct company RFI's were never an issue, because if I wanted to ask the engineer a question, he was just sitting 2 desks over from me. And if I ever found an error or omission on the structural design drawings, I couldn't blame anyone else because I was probably the one that did those drawings in the first place.

Since joining Steelcad the variety of projects that I've worked means I’m always learning something new. I’ve worked on projects ranging from bus shelters to gold mines and everything in-between. Working on such a variety of projects for different design consultants I'm always learning something new, or seeing a detail that I haven't come across before.

How long have you been a member of the AISD?

About 13 years, back in the QISD days.

What was the primary motivation for you to join?

I was looking for an opportunity to network with other detailers, and a workmate of mine mentioned that the QISD AGM was coming up. In a relatively small industry like ours, it’s a great opportunity to get to know your peers.

Can we ask what software package(s) have you used and which of these is your preference?

I started out using AutoCAD, and I made the switch to Tekla Structures 12 years ago. There is no question that 3D modelling is the way to go, both in terms of accuracy and collaboration. But I do miss the mental exercise we used to get when our calculations were a bit more ‘hands on’.

How do you imagine our industry will look in the future?

Detailing companies today seem to be choosing one of two options. They can either undercut each other in a race to the bottom to get the cheapest price, or they can show the building industry that we are capable of offering valuable services that our off-shore competitors can't match.

To have a future, we need to show our clients the value of services that we as detailers can provide. It’s not just about drawings on paper anymore, we are information managers, and if we can take ownership of that role then our contribution to the projects we work on becomes far more valuable.

On that point, do you think detailers are given the recognition they deserve for all the "non-detailing" work they do?

The level of recognition varies dramatically from client to client. When you are trying to get a foot in the door with a new client it can be a challenge to convince them that we are anything more than just the guys at the bottom of the food chain who do the drawings.

But once a builder or client discovers that we are capable of being solution providers, and not just the guys that give them drawings, then the client will usually jump on board with that and take full advantage of the services we can provide.

The Story of Steel Fabrication In Australia
by Dunsteel | Feb 6, 2017 | Blog


Australian’s first attempt at steel fabrication was around the mid 1800’s with no real success due to lack of experience and inferior materials such as iron ore. Later in the 1800’s all attempts of manufacturing ceased and importing from overseas was an impractical option due to high costs and lack of work experience in modifications.

William Sandford made Australia’s first heat of steel at the Eskbank ironworks in Lithgow, NSW, in 1900. The Hoskins Family acquired this plant in 1907. By 1919, Hoskins had become dependent on the Port Kembla district for its coal requirements. These and other factors convinced Hoskins of the advantages of a tidewater site and, in 1921, land was acquired for the Steelworks at Port Kembla.


From this point onward steel manufacturing started to excel in Australia due to the minerals coal and iron ore mined from South Australia. However the steel industry was to receive another setback and with the onset of the depression in the 1930s, Australian Iron and Steel Ltd (AIS) (which had been publicly floated) experienced financial difficulties. Nevertheless, steelmaking began at Port Kembla in 1931, after which operations at Lithgow ceased. Despite the depression by the late 1930’s, Australia had four modern blast furnaces that were used solely for steel manufacturing. Steel fabrication in Australia was making its mark and local industry boomed in response to these advancements.

Story Bridge – Brisbane

Post World War II the steel fabrication industry became one of Australia’s leading industries due to its demand from the domestic, agricultural, construction and residential sectors. From steel piping to transport elements such as gas to increased productivity across the agricultural sector as well as development of residential dwellings and city infrastructure, steel had a become a vital component in the growth of Australia.

In 1962, electrolytic tinning began and the wide plate mill was commissioned the following year. In 1972, the basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS) shop came into service, as did the fifth modern blast furnace. The first continuous slab casting plant was commissioned in 1978 and a third vessel was installed in the BOS shop in 1983. The second continuous slab casting plant was commissioned in 1986 and the sixth modern blast furnace was commissioned 10 years later in May 1996.

The John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, Springhill and CRM Works were acquired by BHP in 1979. Lysaght was originally an English company, and had been the principal supplier of sheet steel products to the Australian market from the late nineteenth century, under its famous ORB trademark.


During the 1980’s Australia endured through poor economic climate, this was to also impact the steel fabrication industry. Over production and lack of demand meant closure for many steel providers. With new global innovative technologies and products on the horizon, Australia manufacturers knew that they also needed to adapt to world standards to maintain their market position.

Today, Australian Steel Fabricators are recognised in the global market as world class. With stringent national quality procedures and environmental standards, Australian steel products can be compared to the best in the world.

The Steel Industry has become highly competitive, with an influx of overseas high volume low cost manufacturers. However with continuous improvement and keeping abreast of changes within the industry, Australian steel fabricators will continue to keep their highly regarded place amongst the worlds best manufacturers.

(Acknowledgement of Source, Australia’s Industry World for facts and figures)

Kurilpa Bridge - Brisbane


What do you do for a living?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this should be a simple question for a Steel Detailer, but these days I’m finding it more and more difficult to answer, and my answer will often vary depending on who is asking the question.

How many of you readers have had to explain what is that you do, to a builder? …. or even an engineer! How did you go with that?

If steel fabricator expectations are anything to go by, there is also an apparent difference of opinion in the ranks of our traditional client base. And if it could get any worse, for those of you that have attended one of our AISD national forums, you’ll have seen that some of us have even had trouble describing what we do, to other detailers!

I believe there are a couple of key reasons for these ambiguities.

Firstly, our client base is broadening. Years of low demand for steel detailing services have seen many businesses look to diversify and take on other project scopes such as metalwork, pre-cast concrete, HDPE, structural timber and surveying of existing structures. This in turn, has opened up opportunities to work, not only for steel fabricators but also for a variety of other trades. So although we are now modelling and detailing pre-cast concrete et al, we continue to sell ourselves as “Steel Detailers”. Other detailing businesses have taken to the Integrated Project Delivery space, or IPD, as it’s commonly referred to. This exposes detailers to an even wider net of clients including builders, design consultants, principal representatives and even the project owner.

This leads to my second reason. This whole new range of client types has brought with it a plethora of deliverables that the Steel Detailer has historically avoided but is well placed to provide. By this I mean that as detailers, we work in a millimetre accurate environment, where accuracy and control are fundamental to a successful outcome. Most others involved in project documentation are focused on design intent, compliance, fitness for purpose, estimating, procurement etc and have little need or even regard for accuracy. We are also at the high pressure end of the design development timeline. Much of the design is now fixed (not all) so our 3D models are loaded with information, intelligence and meaningful data which has been checked and reviewed by experienced professionals. Our intimate working knowledge of the structure is unmatched, and as my old high school motto tells me, Scientia est Potestas, “Knowledge is Power”.

I am convinced that this “knowledge” is the future of our industry. It’s not the drawing (although it will remain an integral part of our deliverables), it’s the model.

Anyone can create a model. Architects do it, engineers do it even graphic designers do it. But no one does like we do. We have the skills to interpret design, and documents, and sketches, and drawings, and models from a host of disciplines and accurately combine them into one, accurate, data rich, integrated, construction-ready model.

So, who should be our client? Who will benefit most from this knowledge? Who will best understand the potential of our model? Who will recognise the value of our services?

Perhaps we should target a range of clients on the same project. For instance, we have a job right now where we are working for the steel fabricator, the pre-caster and the in-situ concreter. Three clients, one project….. should this be the norm?

On the other hand, we recently completed a different project where our client was the builder, but we created drawings and data for the steelwork, the pre-cast, the timber trusses, cladding, formwork and even the reo. One client, six trades …..should this be the norm?

The question is, as an industry, how do we recognise and then commercialise the full value of our work … of our Integrated Construction Model? This is the great opportunity. This is also the grey area.

The opportunity is like a fog to me. I see it everywhere, I just can’t grasp it.

By Clayton Roxborough
President, AISD Qld Inc.

When should you move from being a sole trader to a company?

Broadly speaking, a company tends to be the best structure for a business to operate within, but it’s important that the switch from sole trader to company is made at the right time and for the right reasons. Here are some of the common reasons for making the switch.

  1. Tax purposes
  2. People assume that by operating via a company structure they’ll pay less tax than continuing as a sole trader. This assumption comes about because the current small business company tax rate is 28.5% and a sole trader pays the standard individual marginal tax rates, which can go as high as 49%. Where this line of thought falls over is when you’re operating as a solo operator it’s possible the income you’re earning will be considered Personal Services Income in which case the ATO will want to see all the profits from your business passed through as a wage to you. This means the net outcome is no different to when you were a sole trader.

    However, if your business has multiple people carrying on the same work as you (i.e. not admin work), it’s likely you won’t be affected by this rule and you can retain excess profits in the company to be used for working capital and have it taxed at the company rate.

    If this is the case for you then you’ll likely be interested to know that: The magic number is currently around $117,000.
    The magic number is the amount of taxable income you can earn before you are paying more than an average rate of tax of 28.5%, i.e. the amount of wages you can be paid before it makes sense, from a tax perspective, to leave the rest of the money in the company. Some people find this number a useful benchmark for deciding when to start a company, meaning they need to be netting more than $117,000 as a sole trader before they consider a company structure. What other tax benefits are there?

    • Travel allowances. A company can pay its employees tax-free travel allowances whereas a sole trader cannot pay allowances to themselves.
    • Research and development tax offset. Companies undertaking qualified R&D activity can receive a tax offset to help fund the activities. This is only available to companies and it’s not the only grant/offset to restrict access to companies only.
    • Selling your business. Sole traders who sell their business will be liable for the resulting tax completely, whereas if it’s a company structure you can enjoy some flexibility. Under a company structure it’s ultimately the shareholders paying the tax and, with some clever planning, this can be well managed. Use an accountant who knows how to grow innovative businesses.

  3. Commercial reasons
  4. If you have big growth plans for your small business then operating as a sole trader simply won’t cut it in the long run. You won’t easily – if at all , be able to take on investors as they’ll want the security and flexibility of the company structure in place. You may also find that some customers won’t engage with you or add you to their preferred supplier lists if you’re not operating as a company. This is typical of larger organisations that are worried about getting into trouble for not paying employee entitlements, such as superannuation, which can happen if you are a sole trader, but typically isn’t an issue if you operate the business via a company. It can also help simply to be able to say to potential clients that you are a company and that it isn’t just little ‘ol you – a company implies a certain scale and level of seriousness that a sole trader operated business simply can’t match. In addition, having a large business can be inherently risky and for that reason alone it’s wise to operate out of a separate legal entity (i.e. not yourself), which leads into …

  5. Legal reasons
  6. Broadly speaking a company structure will provide some level of legal protection – a barrier between yourself and third parties. This can be important if you employ people, ever have supplier issues, dramas with clients, etc. Definitely something worth thinking about and speaking with your lawyer about.

    Making the transition
    If you think that a company is the best structure for your business you should compare the benefits you’ve identified with the associated costs. Some of these include:

    • Setup and registration
    • Shareholders agreements
    • Superannuation on your wages
    • Annual ASIC fee
    • Company tax work
    • Bookkeeping, payroll, BAS, etc.

    If your sole trader business has any goodwill attached to it there may be capital gains tax consequences from shifting the business from yourself personally into the company structure. There is generally relief available from having to pay tax here, but you should get advice to make sure there won’t be any tax bills associated with the move.

    You’ll also want to be across the extra legal and compliance responsibilities that come with being a director of a company. You should check out the ASIC website for further guidance.

    Setting up your own company to run your own business is a key strategic step for most successful businesses. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and at the right time for you.

    Written by Ben Fletcher, managing director at Generate. A version of this article was originally posted on their Better Business blog.

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