Globally, the construction industry is known to choose steel structures for building large, complex buildings, which benefit from the strength, stability and durability that steel provides. Not only do steel structures last longer, but they also take lesser time to construct than a comparable concrete structure.
However, the Indian industry is yet to fully capitalize on the benefits of steel structures. The primary reason for the slow adoption is the high cost of input materials, viz structural steel, and energy concerns. Other important prerequisites such as uninterrupted and high-quality electricity supply, logistics for transporting long steel sections to sites, and large storage space for site materials also act as barriers. Moreover, constructing steel structures demands greater precision and skill than that required for building structures with masonry or concrete frame. As a result, many building contractors tend to overlook steel, despite its many advantages.
Buildings made of steel can turn out to be cost-effective, smarter and more sustainable, but choosing steel as primary construction material mandates the existence of four key factors. Firstly, the form of the structure being planned should unequivocally dictate the use of steel. Secondly, the range of steel sections must be available at competitive price. Thirdly, well-equipped off-site fabrication workshops must be readily available. And finally, field management and appropriate equipment must be easily available.
India, being the third largest producer of steel in the world, certainly has the capacity to use these qualities to its advantage to build taller, stronger and smarter buildings. The best way to acquaint the Indian AEC industry with steel structures is through technology. Modern construction software helps in steel fabrication and detailing and can be used effectively to buildsteel structures.
For instance, Tekla Structures, the flagship product from Trimble, is a powerful and flexible software for structural steel detailers and fabricators. It helps create accurate, detailed and as-built models of steel structures by providing solutions at all levels of construction, from detailing to erection through fabrication. Working on Tekla to build steel structures, is the most accurate, integrated way to manage detailing, production planning and erection.
Tekla uses Constructible Building Information Modeling (BIM) which is advantageous for steel fabrication as it coordinates design, detailing, fabrication and site operations for an enhanced, more automated workflow. It enables the creation of a detailed 3D model of any type of steel structure from industrial and commercial projects to stadiums and high rise buildings.
The 3D modelling environment enables teams to design on their own and deliver project fabrication package efficiently and cost effectively. It also ensures that all structures and details are easily modelled and costly conflicts are exposed in the model rather than on site through automatic clash checking. Complex design issues can be easily solved by leveraging benefits such as 3D views and live schedules.
Comprehensive information flow between detailing and fabrication lead to information-rich models that are the mandatory basis for modern fabrication planning and management. The information-rich models also provide a powerful source of intelligent and well-organized information for fabrication, with data for CNC processing, material handling and robotic assembly and welding, hence increasing the productivity through improved project management.
While BIM creates 3D models, the fabrication of a steel building components happens in dedicated off-site construction units in a controlled environment. During fabrication, Tekla Structures allows accumulation of additional information, such as logistic plans, assembly status, schedules and material traceability information in the model itself, which helps in streamlined planning and monitoring of projects thereby providing room for optimal utilization of construction site, besides ensuring little or no construction waste, less maintenance or repair.
Since Trimble allows interface with all the leading MIS software and CNC equipment via proprietary links as well as standard formats including IFC, DXF, DWG and DSTV-NC, data can be collated from multiple sources for effective planning and management of the project. Trimble’s Tekla offerings allow structural engineers to build models that manage even the largest projects in one database and cross reference with other models from MEP or plant designs.
Tekla Structures generates accurate quantity take offs for estimation and bidding, visualize structural solutions which helps in better understanding of the project. Tekla for steel detailing is more than just the project coordination. It aids in enhancing the overall quality of steel structures. Complex assemblies and details become easier to understand and hassle-free planning, managing and monitoring of the projects is possible.
Steel structures are the future, especially when it comes to high rise buildings and in the current scenario of resource scarcity, it is only apt that Indian construction companies quickly adopt these cutting-edge mobile technologies and leverage the power of steel structures.
@EPC World Media