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2015 National Steel Detailers Forum
The year in review and plans for the future - all covered at this annual event

480 Queen Street

Find out more about the first steel tower in Queensland in 40 years


Steel Detailers Dinner and Annual General Meeting. Mark it in your calendar

In This Issue

Chairman's Message
AISD Queensland - Steel Detailers Dinner and Annual General Meeting
What if "They" Don't Mandate BIM"?
Membership Renewals
What is BrisBIM?
BrisBIM Upcoming Events
To BIM or Not to BIM, What A Question!
Construction project failure – we’ve all been there
Downer Joins Ranks of Contractors Exiting Big Projects
2015 National Steel Detailers Forum
CadTech Software
Latest Updates for Autodesk Advance Steel Reflect Commitment to Serve the Steel Industry
Are Low Fees Cannibalising the detailing industry?
480 Queen Street - Case Study
Just for Laughs...


Chairman's Message
Chris Velovski, AISD NSW President

Steel; the future Life Cycle Thinking:

It was the place to be September 16th & 17th as the ASI Steel Convention 2015 put on a great event for the industry and all its participants, the theme for this year’s event was: “Shaping Australia in Steel”.

The overlying take-way for me from this year’s Convention was that sense of speakers focusing towards collaboration and the delegates which I had personally spoken too also agreeing on how the industry is starting to collaborate more in design and process and the “WE CAN and WE WILL” attitudes.

Speakers like Chris Johnson, CEO Urban Taskforce Australia, presenting that the speed of construction in the future would be a critical path and what best product then steel; future new wave of apartment buildings,Dr. James Murray-Parkes, Science & Engineering Director, Engineering Innovation Group, speaking about the efficiencies placed in buildings with steel is a great product and that most architects will accept changes with efficiencies.

Clayton Roxborough, Managing Director, Steelcad Drafting and AISD member, delivered a presentation on how Early Engagement of steel detailers during the design process can save the clients time and money as well as reducing the common frustrations on steel projects. It’s evident that this process of engagement is starting to occur more and more often, particularly with the mid-to-large size detail design houses. (This process was also the topic of my article in the Oct’ 2014 Eye for Detail, on the IPD/BIM and ECI).

The message received from Mr. David Waldren, National Design Manager from Grocon” was that steel structures are favoured within Grocon for the speed of construction, sustainability and earlier design which supports our driving force of zero harm.

It was great to see representatives from the United States such as Mr. John Cross, VP Market Development, AISC, presenting the message that Key customers are those who design in steel, and that steel fabricators can add value to the project because they have knowledge besides that of structural engineers. This is a message that many in the local industry have been pressing here in Australia. That being said, it is a message that again emphasizes that the ECI “Early Contractor Involvement” process is working abroad and should be considered in Australia, that the entire Value Proposition process need to work together to deliver a common goal. You must understand your customers to understand to how and to whom we are delivering our services, is sometimes opposite to what we think or would like to do.

This year (2015) also saw one of the great champions of the industry retire. Mr Don McDonald, former Chief Executive of the ASI has dedicated 17 years to our industry peak body and many countless hours in supporting the great industry we strongly believe in.

A great tribute was bestowed upon him on the Gala Evening and a entertaining slideshow presentation; we wish him all the best in the future and his retirement. Personally, I have some very fond memories with Don and his team and the support, knowledge and talent he always brought to any conversation.

Don McDonald Tony Dixon

We also welcome the new ASI Chief Executive Mr. Tony Dixon, and wish him all the best in his new role. I have been told by external sources that Tony is hitting the ground running very strongly and wasting no time in visiting variety of ministers and MP’s and spreading the good message of steel compliance and making sure our message is heard very loudly in the political arena. I personally met with Tony and found him to be very sound and knowledgeable of the industry, and I will be pleased to continue to work with the ASI team as and when they need our support going forward.

Current and Future:
The philosophy in the message of a previous Eye for Detail article titled “Sailing into changing weather, by Clayton Roxborough” seems to have rung clearly for many during 2014-2015. It would appear we have not only battened down the hatches but also changed our sails to the better suit current economic conditions. The last 12-24 months has seen some difficult times, as we have all witnessed the down turn of the mining sector hit majority industries very hard. We have also seen companies across many sectors of our industry hit the wall hard. As for the rest of us, we are all trying to adjust and make way for the “new normal” trading conditions, which look extremely difficult if you have not already adjusted your sails.

We have to find new markets and new methods of trading, and review our current methods of trading, we are blessed in some way that the state government (NSW) will be making a large investment in infrastructure over the coming years to the value of $20 Billion. We are seeing much more activity in the commercial space and industrial sectors and for Oil & Gas this too seems to be slower than normal.

In conclusion; the steel design detailers have adjusted the sails and changed course as we are heading toward a brighter future, where we work towards ECI (Early Contractor Involvement) with processes like IPD – Integrated Project Delivery and BIM – Building Information Modelling driving changes in the way we will deal as “Consultants” with our clients; be it the “Fabricator, Constructor, Builder, Engineering Team, Architectural Team or the head client direct” we need to be adaptive and we also need to make sure we keep our IP (Intellectual Property) as our own, do not give this away; I cannot stress enough on this matter, as your IP belongs to you the author of the model, because when they engage your services, the model and data does not automatically become there’s. it always belongs to you and provide them a licensing to use this data for the purpose in which you have been engaged if in doubt; please speak to your legal team, do not get bullied in giving your model out.

I would like to add it is great to hear more stories of IPD and BIM and the detailers being involved in the design detailing… We are all looking forward to a brighter future working as consultants alongside our counter parts in the engineering and architectural services.

AISD Queensland - Steel Detailers Dinner and Annual General Meeting
Diana Plaza Hotel, Wednesday 25th November 2015.

The Diana Plaza Hotel – 12 Annerley Rd, Woolloongabba

Once again it is that time of the year. All members are cordially invited to attend our industry’s most important meeting of the year, and financial members are encouraged to make use of the opportunity to play their part in guiding the AISD (Qld) Inc.’s future.

While the current committee continues to operate successfully we would certainly welcome any member who would like to become a committee person and urge them to nominate for a position on the management committee.

Even if you are not wanting to be actively involved on the committee we also encourage members to just come along and share in discussions with fellow detailers on where the future of our industry is heading, how issues may affect us or our colleagues and take stock on the events of the last twelve months.

An agenda and speakers program will be distributed by email flyer closer to the day.

The Diana Plaza Hotel is conveniently located in Woolloongabba, within the vibrant Southbank precinct, directly opposite the Mater Children’s Hospital and just a short stroll to the Brisbane Convention Centre, South Bank Parklands and the legendary “Gabba” Cricket Ground.
The dinner is free to all members and includes pre-dinner drinks and hot savouries.

As this is a catered event we need to confirm numbers by Tuesday 17th of November so please RSVP when the event flyer lands in your email inbox.

What if "They" Don't Mandate BIM"?
Author: Mark Forrest, BuildingPoint Australia

It is commonly held belief that the global financial crisis (GFC) was the tipping point for the mandating of BIM in the UK. Let’s be totally clear here, the industry went from being aware of the values of BIM, using it only when it suited and competing on value for money, to a situation where there literally was no money. It was seen as a wakeup call and an opportunity for the government to radically change the way the industry worked, which they did by bringing in The Government Construction Strategy. The strategy requires collaborative 3D BIM on government projects by 2016 and it has changed the way BIM is been used in the industry. This is just the beginning, with the Construction 2025 Strategy outlining how Britain will strive to be at the forefront of global construction.

It is an interesting case of a crisis being an opportunity in disguise. Without the GFC the UK construction industry might still be indiscriminately using BIM on their projects when it suited, instead of planning to become the most efficient in the construction world in 2025.

Locally we weathered the GFC much better than the UK, but does this mean that we have missed out on an incredible opportunity? The GFC gave the UK the jolt they needed to recognise where they could be working better and make changes to strive towards. Based on the reluctance of Australian governments to dictate to industry I personally don’t believe that the use of BIM will be mandated in Australia.

So where does that leave us?
Well, it leaves us less competitive in a global market for investment with a risk of falling further behind. Ineffective planning, communication and collaboration results in the majority (potentially as high as 90%) of projects being late and approximately 40% of projects being over budget. We will potentially lose infrastructure and commercial investment opportunities to other countries, as they move ahead with BIM at a much faster pace, allowing them to better manage risk and costs.

But does it have to? The current slowdown, particularly in the infrastructure and resources sectors may be our opportunity in disguise. Especially with the declining Australian dollar which will help make our exported services cheaper. We need to take this opportunity to look at the way we do things, how we compare to our international competitors and ask where we can be doing better.

So what is to be done?
We need to take responsibility of our own fate and to step up to the challenge from other countries. We need to move past the buzz words and clearly focus on processes that produce better outcomes. Processes like BIM, but also lean construction, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), modular construction, and most importantly producing a constructable model, have been proven to produce better results.

We need to be striving to deliver projects on time and budget with less waste. The fact is a customer won’t pay $100 million dollars for a project from us when they could receive it for $70 million from someone else.

Membership Renewals

Membership renewal notices were distributed at the end of September. If you haven’t received your renewal notice by now please email the Secretary (AISD QLD).

I know we say it every year but it is critical to our existence that our membership base remains solid so please take the time to renew your membership.

If you have a colleague or friend in our industry who is not yet a member, the AISD website has all the application details and associated forms for those looking for more information.

The management committee wishes to thank you in advance for supporting the institute that supports you, as we strive for even greater success in this coming year.

What is BrisBIM?

For those of you that aren’t aware of the existence of the technical group BrisBIM which puts on a series of presentations at QUT Bimonthly, here is an update from BrisBIM.

It started with one simple idea and it has been transformed into an industry first….. BrisBIM.

The aim was to bring together individuals and companies from within the industry, anyone that used and believed in BIM and where it was going to take the construction industry. We then formed a committee and gave each committee member a dedicated system and from that we were able to establish bi-monthly gatherings to share and exchange thoughts and knowledge in respect to technology innovation across the industry. BrisBIM meetings now attract over 100 individuals and numbers are growing.

This system has now been copied across the country with the development of MelBIM, which is located in Melbourne and BIMWest, located in Perth.  Our goal is to continue to expand BrisBIM. The next stage is to reach people in regional areas by developing a system so individuals can “tap” into each BrisBIM meeting from their desks, wherever they are.

With BIM being more popular than ever in the industry and the demand for knowledge increasing, we look forward to the future of BrisBIM.

Read More on the BrisBIM website

BrisBIM Upcoming Events

See All the Upcoming Events on the BrisBIM website

To BIM or Not to BIM, What A Question!
Author: Peter Barda

What does it take to persuade clients of the industry that BIM is a good idea?
Plainly, more must be done than we have been able to do so far, given the reluctance of many, including public sector clients, to require architects to produce a model, or constructors to develop and implement a BIM management plan. So what’s the problem? What are the challenges?
There are a few which can be grouped under five headings.

  1. Communication – we haven’t done as good a job as an industry as we might have to explain the tool and its benefits.

  2. Investment cost – many of us (designers and constructors) haven’t yet been confident enough of the business case for BIM to make the investment in hardware, software and training.

  3. Methodology – we’re still waiting for comprehensible object libraries, complete interoperability between different software platforms, industry standard contracts, and clarity of roles and responsibilities in collaborative design involving constructors and trade contractors.

  4. Skills – we need to buy in or learn different skills.

  5. Policy – clients are working through the issues associated with collaborative design processes, particularly when constructors are engaged before design is settled to become member of integrated project teams.

Clients of the industry are approaching adoption of BIM, and the option of encouraging greater project team integration, with caution. Whilst the challenges listed above are being addressed, primarily by industry, it is understandable that clients are reluctant, for example, to simply mandate use of BIM as a design and construction or asset management tool on their projects.
In the public sector, each jurisdiction and the agencies within them are moving at their own pace to adopt BIM as a tool to design and construct assets, and to manage them after they are commissioned. Some agencies are more advanced than others; those that regularly commission projects to deliver new or refurbished assets, and have significant asset portfolios to manage (including Defence, health and education agencies) are more advanced in their thinking and development of internal policies and processes.

BIM used in the Royal Artillery Barracks (UK)

Key issues for public sector agencies include:

  • assessing whether the costs of requiring the delivery and use of BIM models are outweighed by the asset whole of life benefits;
  • identifying minimum threshold values of projects on which to require use of BIM to design, construct or manage assets;
  • assessing whether local suppliers (designers and constructors and asset managers) have the skills and resources to build and use BIM models;
  • ensuring smaller firms – whether designers or other consultants, or constructors – that are slower than others in using BIM are not disadvantaged;
  • determining whether existing legislation, policies, or procedures are flexible enough to allow the early appointment of constructors to project teams to be part of the design process; and determining the extent to which internal BIM or other project management capability is required when requiring the delivery and use of BIM models by suppliers.

Other related issues arise in considering the scope for government agencies and private sector clients to encourage those suppliers to bid for design or construction work and then carry it out using teams that integrate designers, trade contractors, and head contractors. The conventional approach common to most project delivery strategies, involves design work being undertaken by designers appointed by a client sufficient to enable the client to seek proposals and prices to construct an asset. This approach leads to constructors (including trade contractors who provide a head contractor with sub-contract proposals) being excluded from initial design.

If a different approach is taken, regardless of the project delivery strategy selected, and constructors (including relevant trade contractors) are involved in initial design as part of an integrated design team, the power of BIM to facilitate more effective collaboration focused on meeting client objectives is optimised. This approach may challenge existing policies and procedures to ensure the selection of suppliers is transparent and deliver value for money, and alternative policies and procedures to be put in place. Again, clients whether public or private are addressing these issues in different ways. Guides produced by ACIF and its government counterpart, Australasian Procurement and Construction Council, identify the issues and suggest alternatives that have been tried elsewhere to inform those who are working in this field.

Because agencies in each jurisdiction are proceeding at their own pace, it is beyond the scope of this guide to recommend or suggest uniform strategies for jurisdictions, or for matter private sector clients, to adopt BIM more widely.

The 2014 McGraw Hill reports on use of BIM globally and in Australia point to the growing adoption of BIM by designers and constructors as a tool because of its efficiencies and cost benefits. It is likely that once the initial investment in systems and skills is made, BIM models and their use will be offered as a competitive advantage by early adopters, and eventually as a matter of course by all firms who wish to continue as suppliers.

It is reasonable to assume that the rate of adoption of the tool will be increased as the number of clients requiring it grows. The challenges presently being considered by clients may indeed have a default response – industry will simply make BIM, and greater use of more effective project integration, part of its business-as-usual kitbag of tools.

The rate at which this happens will be accelerated now with the release of A Framework for the Adoption of Project Team Integration and Building Information Modelling by ACIF and its government counterpart, the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council. The framework provides a step by step guide to the issues and challenges, and solutions, to adoption of BIM and greater Project Team Integration to drive the BIM modelling and management tools. The framework and other productivity Guides can be downloaded free of charge here.

Construction project failure – we’ve all been there.
Author: Clayton Roxborough

It seems many projects are set up to fail from the start through lack of planning, administrative bureaucracy and the adversarial culture between parties emphasised by contract wording. The seemingly vast commercial, legal and administrative requirements often take so much of the project lead time that the time for actually physically "building the thing" is squeezed too tight to allow any contingency.

Sure, areas of performance and consequences need to be clear, but the focus on downside should not outweigh the desire to have all parties working together, aiming at satisfactory completion from all perspectives. Shared reward and risk will more likely lead to a successful outcome than the game of who will carry the can for variation costs.

I believe there needs to be an ongoing bigger picture look at how all the many interactions are moving forward and support to bring any lagging component up to speed. Emphasise reward for on time (or better), budget, quality, deliverables etc.

Unfortunately with the peaks and troughs of the construction market there will be times when some inexperienced project managers and engineers are used and they can be absorbed by administration rather than technical and commercial execution. Some are just not able to deal with the complexities of a large project and range of issues needing quick action. They may wait too long to escalate a serious issue. Cognisance of this being the case means all the more reason for proper oversight, excellent planning and positive relationships between the various parties.

  • A strategic plan outlines the team’s goals and all tasks are aligned with it
  • Project benefits and performance measures are defined and monitored
  • Processes exist to manage tasks across disciplines
  • Project performance evaluation conducted

Perhaps the most surprising thing about failing construction projects is not their frequency, but that they fail persistently, despite many opportunities to learn from them and eliminate mistakes. Patterns of failure are highly repetitive, suggesting that even though there are clear and well-articulated lessons, there is a culture of denial in the places where the real change is needed. We have seen efforts to improve projects through adoption of frameworks and methodologies that have given us deeper and earlier visibility of things going wrong, yet projects subject to those frameworks have continued to arrive at sometimes spectacular failure. 

People who have made those constructive comments obviously understand the lessons that have come from many audit and consulting reviews of failed projects - that the root causes of failure are invariably found in the behaviour of organisations and people - such as:

  • abdication of responsibility and avoidance of accountability (Responsibility Principle)
  • loss of focus on appropriate and feasible strategic outcomes, and acting without adequate planning (Strategy Principle)
  • irrational behaviour in launching initiatives, such as pretending that the cost can be made to comply with some artificial target, or purchasing an incomplete product when proven capability is essential, or fabricating the benefits case; (Acquisition Principle)
  • not setting and monitoring realistic performance goals, bizarrely resisting clear messages about performance problems when they are provided and even more bizarrely, scrapping essential performance activities because they are too costly (Performance Principle)
  • failing to conform to established methods, frameworks and controls, and pushing resources beyond their sustainable capacity (Conformance Principle)
  • diverse human behaviours such as obfuscation, denial, persistence, ambition, survival, greed and so on prevail (Human Behaviour). 

BIM is a wonderful thing, but remember - Technology makes almost anything more efficient. However, it is not the answer, it is only a tool.  Before applying it, have the right people and the proper processes in place; otherwise, trouble will come just as before—only faster and much more efficiently.

Downer Joins Ranks of Contractors Exiting Big Projects
Author: Mark Howe

The list of contractors meeting with major difficulties on large-scale resource projects in Australia continues to grow following Downer’s withdrawal from an ammonium nitrate project in WA.

Downer has opted to withdraw from a major contract for the installation of pre-fabricated modules for a key resources project in Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula.

The engineering giant cancelled its contract with Tecnicas Reunidas for work on the Burrup ammonium nitrate project on the grounds of what it claims was failure by the Spanish builder to remedy substantial breach of contract.

Downer is in the process of demobilising from the site,” said the company in an official release. “Downer has not taken this decision lightly but considers it has no alternative given TR’s conduct.”
While the original value of the contract inked in March 2014 was $72 million, Downer has already been paid around $89 million, and intends to seek a further $60 million in claims via arbitration.
According to Downer the claims include costs for increases in the contract quantities, costs incurred by disruptions and delays, as well as re-working necessitated by the non-conforming free-issue models that were supplied by Tecnicas.

The ammonium nitrate plant on the Burrup Peninsula, jointly owned by Norway’s Yara International, ASX-listed Orica and and US firm Apache Corporation, is still scheduled to commence first production at the end of the year.

Downer joins a growing list of other contractors in Australia who have met with difficulties while working on major resource projects, in the wake of growing involvement in the sector by overseas investors.

In just the past year other contractors that have engaged in disputes concerning work on resource projects include Laing O’Rourke, Monadelphous Group and NRW Holdings.

Laing O’Rourke scrapped its $200 million contract with Samsung for work on the Roy Hill iron ore project, following inability to reach agreement over increased costs and delays.

Samsung also found itself in a stoush with contractor NRW over the same project, with the later launching legal action over responsibility for cost blowouts.

Contractual disputes in relation to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in Queensland have also compelled Monadelphous to file a lawsuit for the first time in the company’s 25-year history.

2015 National Steel Detailers Forum
Author: Chris Velovski

This year’s Steel Detailers forum was held at 2:45 pm on Thursday 17 September at the Australian Steel Convention, Double Bay Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney.

The forum followed national steering committee meeting where state representatives were able to make good progress through the set agenda items with strong momentum gained through earlier discussions. Unfortunately our South Australian colleagues were unable to make it along this year but all other AISD state groups were represented.

A summary of the minutes of the meeting is laid out below as information for members.

  Chris Velovski       EDC Consultants
  Clayton Roxborough   Steelcad
  Trevor Ritchie    Autodesk
  Andrew  Dewar    AJD Drafting
  Chris Dowse     CCD Drafting
  Rick Dembiany    Demcox
  Steve Cox   Demcox
  Sean Reilly   PDC (attended part of meeting)
  Don McDonald   ASI (attended part of meeting)
  James England   ASI
  John Gardner   ASI (Minutes Secretary)

Introduction and welcome

  • Chris Velovski, ASI National President chaired the Forum.    All attendees were welcomed.

    Discussion Topics

    Members Expectations from the AISD (Why & How)

  • Agreed to expand the range of checklists on the AISD website.   Include forms that are of major benefit including remainder of NZ checklists, AISD terms & conditions, AISD Notice of Change (NOC) forms.  ACTION
  • It was suggested that the AISD needs a part time employee to assist in achieving the goals of the Institute.

    How does the AISD engage with its members?

  • The AISD (Qld) Eye for Detail online magazine is a great tool for the industry.
  • The AISD Facebook and LinkedIn pages need to be promoted more.
  • AISD (NSW) has had various events to appeal to members including, Christmas Parties, Golf Days, free dinners after the meetings.
  • It was suggested that further meetings could include site visits to galvanizing plants and fabrication workshops.  The visits could be held once or twice a year. 
  • Due to the difficulty of travelling in Sydney’s dense traffic, the location of NSW committee meetings must suit the majority of the members.

    Changing Role of a Steel Detailer or Design Detailer

  • Detailers are being expected to do more for less money.
  • Agreed that Steel Detailers need to articulate their offer more clearly to their clients – if the client wants a lower price, ask them what items they want to remove from the contract.
  • Important to communicate directly with the designers (engineers & architects).  Some builders do not allow steel detailers to communicate directly with designers as they want to control the RFI process.
  • The AISD website states the responsibilities of Steel Detailers and can be used as a reference when submitting tenders.    

    How is BIM/IPD affecting our industry? (What is being expected by Clients?)

  • The role that Steel Detailers play needs to be clearly communicated to the Builder.  Detailers need to have a “cook book” on what they can offer.
  • Detailers need a new contract for IPD quotes to offer to builders.
  • Need to ask Architects what the model contains, e.g., does it contain accurate dimensions.
  • It is important for detailers to discuss grids and RLs with the project team.
  • Detailers can offer weekly reports generated from the model to the IPD clients.  The reports can contain information such as surface treatment, location of steelwork with regards to program etc.
  • It was agreed that BIM/IPD was beneficial to Steel Detailers as it raised their importance in the supply chain.
  • Engineers can benefit from BIM/IPD by not having to produce 2D drawings.  The 3D model can be used as the focus of communication with the whole supply chain. 

    Other Business

  • Agreed to offer detailers the opportunity to search for employment opportunities on the AISD website.    The “employment opportunities” section of the website will be trialled for a limited time and revaluated based on feedback from users and whether any security issues occur.

  • Feedback and next steps

  • Forum attendees were encouraged to engage with the ASI at a state level via the various ASI committees to support industry advocacy and work together on common issues.

Meeting closed at 4.55 pm

As a Steel Detailing company of around 12 AutoCAD based Drafters in 2007 we were overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in creating, managing and issuing 1000’s of Drawing deliverables per month with the accompanying Reports, Registers, DXF and NC Files. For us this was a manual process of managing files and folders with spreadsheets and manual editing.

Having been involved in writing Steel Detailing software for over 18 years we had the ability to develop a “Drawing Management System”, and with our professional CAD programmers started writing our own in-house solution as an AutoCAD to SQL Database Interface API.

The plan was for drawings to be “Born” in the system at the point of creation and border insertion with all Title and Border Attributes linked to metadata entries in the database.
This allowed data to be pushed or pulled either way as a complete integrated system with automatic processes for file naming, title line creation, numbering, revising, plotting and issuing.

Overall management times for a complete drawing life-cycle improved by around 40 to 1.

i.e. Turnaround time for IFA to IFC for 100 drawings went from around 6 hours to under 10 minutes.
All drawing files edited, revved, re-named, superseded, plotted, zipped and issued with transmittals, register – and the best thing … NO mistakes.

With the Drawing creation, authoring and delivery system in successful operation, we moved on to tackle another pain point we’d had for a long time.
Managing Drawings and Documents from Engineer, Architect, Services and other disciplines.

It is my opinion that most organisations manage documents badly.
This is continually demonstrated in the way they are distributed and the way WE received them.

Even now we receive design drawings in an ad hoc manner on most occasions.
Loose file attachments over numerous emails, no transmittal or drawing register, file names are all over the place, marked up scans with rubbish names, issued in binder with no names, Oh! did you get the latest revisions? …… I’m sure you can add to this list.

Now it’s time to be honest.
When these drawings make it into your own file and folder system,
Are they organised and well managed?
Do you ensure the latest revision is distributed?
Are they easy to find and identify?
Confess….Has any of this caused you grief?

It caused us grief all the time so we set out to fix it.

In theory all Drawings are similar with Names, Numbers, Titles, Revision and History, so the current data associations and methodologies already developed were adopted for receiving content.

We added functions to Import documents with a Transmittal IN system, introduced dynamic taxonomy system as well as adding search, filter, group, preview, open and edit facilities.

This provided the ability to receive Drawings and Documents IN to a database system with full title, revision and transmittal integration and then re-issue them OUT through a transmittal system.

This clearly suited the middle man that both receives and delivers content to and from designers, detailers and others, like Fabricators and Builders.

We have a number of Fabricator, Detailer and Designer adopters using the system with very positive results and feedback, and they are looking forward to future development.

Integration with other software.
Tekla – Bocad - Pro Steel - Advance Steel, even Revit.
Not yet but certainly on our radar, and very achievable.
Most software packages support Application Plug In (API) integration.
In simple terms we need to harvest Drawing metadata from the source program through API development and create a database link with the deliverables to manage and distribute them through the CadTracker system with full features.

Currently we have detailer adopters using Bocad and Pro Steel.

EDC Consultants in Newcastle uses AVEVA Bocad and have deployed CadTracker as their Drawing management system. Without direct integration they are importing their PDF drawing deliverables into the system and extracting metadata to the database via proprietary OCR scan software from the PDF plots.
There are a few steps involved, but the system provides them with a manageable delivery and transmittal system better than previous manual methods.

Our Pro Steel users are AutoCAD based and can create drawings singularly into the system or import batches of pre-created drawings, and once again benefit from full system features.

Future Plans and Ambitions.
We see our system as a Drawing Office Management and Document Control System and are currently engaged in integration with Microsoft Office enhancing Document Control aspects.

Integration with Tekla and Bocad could start early 2016 dependent on a number of factors.

Future development also includes plans for “Plug In” Modules to address the many other Drawing Office pain points that most of us have including:-

  • RFI Management System.
  • Approval / Review and Redline Mark-up System.
  • Email Management System.
  • Estimate and Project Control System (Drawing Office)
  • Time Management System.
  • Variation and Change Order Management.
  • Workflow Integration.

    Brief Summary of Current Functionality.

    Centralised SQL database for all project Drawings, Documents, Files and Data.
  • Create and Manage In-House Drawings and Documents.
  • Import and Manage In-Bound Drawings and Documents.
  • Manage Models, Xrefs and Data Files
  • Automatic Revision / Version Control System.
  • Full Tracking, Supersede, Archive and Retrieval Systems.
  • Distribution and Issue, Transmittals, Registers and Reports.
  • View, Open, Edit, Author and Manage all Drawings and Documents.
  • LAN, Cloud or Hybrid Database and Data Vault deployment.
  • Enforce Industry and Office Standards compliance.
  • Offer ISO 9001, ISO IEC 82045 compliance for Controlled Documents

The schema above shows Application Integration and Plug-In Modules that are not part of our current system, but that are planned or in progress.

Summing Up.
There is clearly a lot more to this story, we have spent over 5000 man-hours in programming time alone and it is not a trivial program.
If you are interested you can find our web site at with videos and other information, or feel to contact us for further information.

Latest Updates for Autodesk Advance Steel Reflect Commitment to Serve the Steel Industry

Key enhancements include enhanced drawing styles for shop drawings, new BOM templates, connection libraries with AISC values and IFC for Fabrication

Autodesk is committed to rapidly developing steel detailing and fabrication workflows, and accelerating the steel industry’s move to Building Information Modeling [BIM]. 

The latest update of Autodesk Advance Steel 2016 reflects this commitment with a set of compelling enhancements -- now available to Autodesk Subscription customers.

User feedback and customer interactions drove the productivity improvements found in the mid-year R2 update of Advance Steel 2016 which his designed to help users provide deliverables for fabrication more efficiently and effectively. 

Key enhancements include:

  • Enhanced drawing styles for shop drawings – New and enhanced out-of-the-box drawing styles for the US market will help users produce more accurate shop drawings while also improving productivity.

  • Search filter queries import/export – To help reduce time-consuming repetitive query configuration, Advance Steel users can now search filter queries and share them with other users.
  • Connection libraries with AISC values – Connection libraries contain saved values for the most common connections used in the US market. This helps design steel connections more easily and quickly via the available libraries.

  • New BOM [Bill of Material] templates – Users now have access to more BOM templates to help create more accurate and readable documentation.

  • Fabrication data available in the Object Enabler – Fabrication data available in the object enabler allows users of other dwg based programs like Plant3D to see the approval status of Advance Steel objects as well as the structural information in the Advance Steel model. This provides a clearer understanding of the fabrication status.
  • IFC for Fabrication – Users can now export a 3D model to a specific new IFC format (Steel Fabrication View) which helps provide a smoother data transfer to CNC fabrication.  This fosters enhanced productivity for fabrication and assembly.

Are Low Fees Cannibalising the detailing industry?

In a tightening market, competition is fierce and fees are getting lower and lower. What does this mean for our industry and how can better communication during the tendering process improve outcomes for not only steel detailing and 3D modelling services but for our clients and their projects?

Competition seems greater, companies are going to the wall, and ‘cheaper off-shoring’ seem to threaten your very business survival.  So you’re asking yourself, “where can we look to cut costs even more?”

This is the ‘race to the bottom’.  It’s a race that ends in ever decreasing circles, with the ‘winner’ left gasping with fragile margins and the rest in some kind of train wreck strewn out behind them.

The smart businesses don’t even join the race of course, because it’s the wrong race to be in. 

You see, once you’ve cut all the costs that you can cut, through productivity improvements, through the use of technology and through merely doing things ‘smarter’ there is nowhere left to go.  Where to then?  The only way now, is to start cutting back on quality and service.  And that can lead to a slow and painful death for any business.

The right race, is the one that continually ‘raises the bar’ in terms of quality and service.
Once you’ve tackled the productivity, technology and smarter ways of working, it’s this race that puts you ahead of the pack because it’s a ‘double whammy’.  But it’s a harder race to run and that’s why many balk at the prospect and don’t even get across the start line.

It requires you to really understand your clients.  What they want, what they need, and then aiming to give it to them. Most builders think they want cheap.  What I think they really want is quality, they want value and they want confidence in your great, professional service. 
And why is this race a double whammy? As you build better quality, value and service than your competitors, your client wants to engage you more.  This leads to even greater efficiencies in your internal processes and better commercial relationships.  More work with lower risk and improved bottom lines.  The ‘double whammy’ that keeps putting your business even further ahead of the pack….

Many fabricators talk about achieving value for money, but in reality select the winning bid based on price rather than value. That's because quality isn't always easy to quantify, whereas the price is.

This is the challenge for our industry.

We need to change our target market from the fabricator to the builder.

Steel detailers are able to provide a vastly improved menu of deliverables to the builder than those needed by the steel fabricator.

A typical fabricator will want detail drawings, marking plans, field bolts and processing data whereas the builder will see value in design assist or finalisation, precast concrete panels, identification and resolution of constructability issues, surveying, structural timber & trusses, interface clash detection with services and mechanical items, metalwork etc, etc. the list goes on and on. For the detailer, this value add increases the potential size and value  of every project and reduces the number of jobs you need to win in order to achieve full capacity of your detailing team.

If you can clearly communicate the benefit of your services during the tender stage, the conversation is there to be had with your builder client.

This is where the emerging trend for early engagement of detailers by building companies is delivering a paradigm shift for steel construction project delivery.

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