How BIM technologies can improve metal structure manufacturing business?

Construction industry market will start decreasing again and competition is always growing. Construction metal structure manufacturing companies are looking for possibilities to grow their sales in Scandinavia and other western countries. It is necessary to increase efficiency for this. How technologies can increase effectiveness and competitiveness of metal manufacturing business?

Where we lose money? Can we be more efficient?

Proposal phase.

Let‘s start from the beginning, when metal structure manufacturer takes part in a contest and gives a proposal. Usually companies tries to calculate the weight of the metal and uses the project drawings. And it is not a secret that we have a big possibility to make a mistake here. If you calculate too much, you will not win, if you calculate too little - you will encounter looses. Other problem is that we have to calculate very fast  and precisely and then there is a question if we trust those who make the calculations.

Project alternatives are the instrument of competitive advantage. There are companies that offer services of metal structure optimization and make structure recalculations, which gives benefit both to the company and the client. If the client is involved in the process, he trusts such supplier more as he can see reasonableness of calculations and understands the alternatives. A good example is a Finish company FIRA, which wins more and more contests. The fact that company provides a service of structure optimization for free is also a helpful issue.

Structure optimization.

Other companies get the same structure optimization task only after signing the agreement. And there occurs the often conflict between the project maker and manufacturer: each side wants to defend its proposal, and designers are not always willing to economize project cost paying with their own additional work time. So the work would be greatly smooth if there was a better cooperation. That‘s why some companies have their own structure designers or have their own reliable partners. In any case, lot of money, both customers‘ and manufacturers‘, can be lost in relationship of process participants.

Doug Malm, owner of Steel Detailing Services in Sandy, Utah, considered 3D detailing in 2008 because he knew it was the future of the industry. He decided against it because of the recession. It wasn't until business began to pick up, that he realized his firm would be left behind if he didn't convert.

„A few years ago we started losing out on business opportunities because we didn't have 3D detailing capabilities,- said Malm. -We decided we‘d better learn to model or risk missing out on the more lucrative structural and miscellaneous steels jobs in our area.“

Examples like this show that especially good results are achieved after improving collaboration between design and manufacturing.

Preparation for manufacturing.

In this phase the manufacturer has to get accurate drawings of all parts and assembly, in order to manufacture and assemble right. Another challenge is to manufacture and deliver on time. The common problem is accuracy and mistakes in the drawing, due to which the manufacturer makes a mistake too. The direct costs are the small part of all losses. The worst thing is that incorrect production stops all the construction and assembling work, there is additional costs of logistics and design. While we could put all blame to designers, the manufacturer will be influenced the most. The price of mistake can cost all profits and, what is the most important, can ruin reputation of the manufacturer.


In the phase of manufacturing, there are the risks like human error when putting data into manufacturing equipment. Operator has a big chance to make a mistake when doing his routine job. So later the incorrect production can be made and it can be discovered either during assembling or, even worse, at the construction site. That’s why is so important to automate the operation of data input.


The client expects delivery of the right production on time, that‘s what he pays for. But as we do understand, when seeking for efficiency in manufacturing, we have to manufacture production not for only one project but for all projects, in order to optimize material costs and avoid equipment interruption. It doesn't matter if you delivered your production on time if even one of items derange process of assembling. One item delivered not on time ruins all assessable chain, the client files a claim and even demands a compensation.

A late delivery is usually caused by two factors: mistake of manufacturer (produced a wrong thing or in a wrong way) or a mistake of supply chain. The latter one is a real headache for manufacturers, especially those giving assembling services, because you need to follow the sequence of assembling as this influences the sequence of logistics and manufacturing later on, and the sequence of manufacturing infuences the preparation of manufacturing.

As we can see there are a lot of problems to be sold. To claim that technologies solves the problems, would be wrong. I would say that leaders have to fully understand and analyse problems and in any case not to get satisfied with the level achieved. Then it's necessary to change processes, accustomed way of working, organization and the whole method. Only then we can use new technologies and automatic systems as a tool for a new method. Integration of design, manufacturing and assembling processes, as examples show, is an essential assumption for effectiveness and quality assurance.

How technologies can help solving problems?

We can achieve stunning results when using technologies in a smart way. Technologies can help in all the mentioned cases. Let‘s say you will change your work method and will contract your own designers or reliable partner, who will not only design but also invest his time in offer evaluation and structure optimization.

Tekla technologies will enable you to import project information and on this basis you will be able to model your structures or alternative structures and the system will automatically show you quantities, weights and other information.

Model detailing will be faster and accurate , because Tekla technology is adapted to a special minuteness (the choice of bolts, fast and easy design and adaptation of weld seems). A rich library of elements and automated functions makes your work much more faster.

Tekla technology unites design and manufacturing process. Designers and manufacturers (not only metal structure manufacturers) can work in one system. That allows to coordinate all solutions in a detail level.

Tekla technologies and CNC type equipment has a possibility to exchange project production smart files, which transmit not only geometrical parameters but also other characteristics, like material. You can also arrange assembling sequence in Tekla models, and manufacturing managing systems (like Steel Projects) can plan manufacture without skipping any detail, needful for specific assembling or delivery phase.

“Tekla has opened doors for us with the larger fabricators in our area,” said Malm. “Since they require CNC files, which I can produce with Tekla Structures, I now bid bigger projects among a broader base of clients.”

BIM technologies in steel structure manufacture will be and already are a necessity.

BIM technologies and methods of integrated design and manufacture is fighting its way in Lithuanian manufacture market, not to mention in Scandinavia, England, Holland. That gives constantly growing competitive advantage and encourages collaboration and permanent partnership. Lithuanian companies like  AB "Panevėžio Statybos Trestas", AB "YIT Kausta", UAB "Peikko Lietuva", UAB "Litana ir Ko", UAB "Markučiai" are already organizing integrated construction and manufacturing process which helps to collaborate more effective, to produce more accurate and deliver production on time.

Examples of first BIM construction projects in Lithuania are gladdening and catching. If first it was surprising to make projects with Tekla, now it‘s a common thing and there are even contests. And for those who want export their production to Scandinavia, it‘s almost a must to work with BIM and organize manufacture in a BIM model basis.

The first steps applying BIM technologies in company UAB "Peikko Lietuva" were very positive. Directors of the company claims that the biggest advantage of BIM technologies is the posibility to see al the disposition in 3D environment and to search for solutions while designing also the easier assembling on metal structures.

People admit problems and want better results, that‘s why they change working methods and start using efficient technologies, which help to solve daily questions and help to process huge amount of information, necessary for decisions. Those who want better result I encourage to learn from success and failures of others, I encourage to make the hunt and implementation of innovation your strategy. Our BIM experts and foreign partners have many experience, which we are very willing to share with you.

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