Misc. Metals – A Lucrative Time Sink

Do you shy away from miscellaneous metals when bidding? Excluding these materials and just focusing on the gravy work, structural steel, might be a great way to avoid some of the time-consuming headaches of a construction project. But you’re leaving a lot of meat on the carcass.

We used to cringe when large-scale misc. metals projects came up for bid. Endless stair towers loaded with railings were the bane of the SDS/2 detailers’ existence. Often to stay competitive on the overall project price, an SDS/2 detailer would have to outsource the misc. metals package to a stair specialist; a CAD jockey.

This specialized detailer would be well versed in stair and railing code requirements, numerous stair styles, and capable of dreaming up the design of a stair tower from the most cartoonish of contract drawings. These are all things a structural guy can do but he lacks one thing, software that is built to handle it. But if you think about it, it’s a bit like a plumber hiring another plumber to fix his own pipes because his house has copper lines and he likes to work with PVC.

Before, SDS/2 was just not up to the task. Sure, there were stair members. But they were sorely lacking in customization and functionality. If the design called for anything other than a simple concrete filled pan or grating tread design, you were out of luck. That does not even begin to compare with the problems of the railings which were modeled by hand from parts all graphically fit together.

With today’s modeling power, stair connections to the concrete or steel structure are automated. Railings are highly customizable. With styles ranging from a simple 2-line pipe rail, a picket rail, an industrial angle rail or even a woven wire mesh panel inset that is rotated at a 45-degree diamond pattern; your productivity in these types of drawings is now better than ever.

A major problem of the past was field measurements after design was completed and approved. This is where the CAD specialists reigned supreme and where our budgets were blown. After you spend all that time modeling one of these nightmares, the field sends back some measurements you don’t like and BAM! You might as well delete the entire model and start over. The CAD guy redoes some math and changes a few dimensions. But that won’t fly for you. Your customer is expecting you to produce CNC files, you need an accurate model.

With the more intelligent design of the current modeling software, you can now make your changes without having to graphically model everything. This means less time spent revising your work and more time to book other projects. It also means you can price that project with confidence that the field measurements will not double the time spent to complete your final shop drawings.

Suddenly, we have that familiar advantage over the CAD guys that we already had in the structural department of the project. We dropped the capital on the highest quality software for structural steel detailing and now we’re reaping the rewards in other areas.

Say “goodbye” to excluding misc. metals packages from your scopes, say “goodbye” to outsourcing the time-consuming part of the projects to maintain your schedules, and say “goodbye” to throwing away bid requests to avoid work your software does not perform well.

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