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Steel erection or installation refers to the complete process of lifting, arranging, and placing steel sections and components into specific positions. Steel erectors are an integral part of the success of building projects. They not only help build revolutionary steel structures but also rehab older ones. Learn more about steel erection and the responsibilities of a steel erector by reading our comprehensive guide:
A Quick Glance at Steel Erection
Steel erection refers to constructing buildings with steel as their central part. These projects replace concrete beams, moldings, bent, and more with steel. Builders prefer steel erections since its versatile, resilient, easy to work with, and quick. Steel erections are helpful in commercial, residential, and industrial buildings and hangars.
Who is a Steel Erector?
Steel erectors or ironworkers specialize in constructing and working with steel. These engineers tend to work in steel construction and engineering sectors. Steel erectors are crucial to building steel structures and may work on different projects, including office developments, industrial warehouses, bridges, sports stadiums, and multi-story residential apartments. Steelworkers may work in single or multiple areas, like creating steel components and fabrication shops.
What Does a Steel Erector Do?
Steel erectors typically work with steel girders, beams, columns, and various tools and machinery. They assemble and align steel structural components while following appropriate safety guidelines.
The job responsibilities and duties of a steel erector include:
- Cutting and shaping steel
- Installing steel girders, beams, pipework, and columns to create a steel framework
- Fixing safety netting, edge rails, and work platforms
- Lining up steelwork
- Reviewing technical plans and planning project assemblies
- Using various hand and power tools
What Skills Do Steel Erectors Have?
To become a steel erector, builders must boast the following skills:
- Ability to conform to health and safety guidelines
- Confidence working at height
- Critical thinking skills
- Good physical fitness
- Excellent team working skills
- In-depth knowledge of construction
A Step-by-Step Guide to Erecting a Metal Building
The process of erecting steel buildings can seem tedious and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be! Here’s a step-by-step guide to assembling metal buildings:
Step # 1: Setting the Foundation
The foundation is the building block of erecting a metal building. To start setting the foundation, you’ll have to review the instructions relevant to bolting anchors. You’ll also have to ensure the slab of cement is entirely flat so that you can pinpoint the bolts.
Step # 2: Constructing the Frame
Constructing your metal building’s frame starts with the I-Beam columns and rafters. Since builder’s ‘pre-engineer’ steel buildings, meaning that all pieces are pre-cut, punched and welded.
Step # 3: Adding Girts, Purlins, and Framed Openings
After setting the main framework, you can start installing girts, framed openings, and purlins. This way, your steel building will enjoy better wall and roof support.
Step # 4: Installing Roof and Walls
Next, engineers will begin focusing on the insulation, roof sheetings, and walls. Builders screw sheeting into the frame with the help of fasteners. After installing the walls, you’ll focus on the roof panels and weather stripping.
Step # 5: Enhancing Aesthetics
When erecting steel buildings, you’ll have to trim, accessorize, and polish your metal building. Trimming your metal building will ensure your building looks aesthetic and finished. Last but not least, engineers will install additional doors, windows, and vents.
Understanding the Steel Delivery and Erection Process
The process of delivering and erecting steel components can be tedious. Steel fabrications must be meticulous to ensure the project runs smoothly:
Steel erectors ensure that steel components, such as protective coatings, steel beams, etc., arrive ready for installation.
Steel fabricators conduct trial assembles to ensure each component fits together according to the original plan.
Receiving steel components at the right time and in the right location is integral to running a project smoothly. This way, engineers can avoid costly delays.
Every component must reach the site with necessary clips, bolts, anchors, bracings, and other connection materials required for delivery.
Erection and installation of a steel building include four components:
- Establishing foundations and ensuring they are a safe surface for steel erection
- Placing components by using cranes, jacking, or lifting. Moreover, securing components and bracings with the help of bolt connections
- Aligning the structure by checking the column base
- Bolting-up to secure and impart rigidity
Fabrication Services during Steel Erection
Let’s discuss in-depth the process of fabricating steel erection:
Beams include girts, purlins, and tubes and may require cutting and welding depending on the provided specifications. Typically, engineers attach beams to support steel structures using bolts or welds to ensure structural integrity. Moreover, builders ensure that columns have adequate lateral supports before attaching crane beams or girt.
Purlins refer to robust roof framing members spanning parallel to building eaves. Moreover, they lie over rafters or walls and support the roof decking and sheeting. According to steel industry practices, engineering drawings and documentation include structural shapes representative designations. Remember that steel purlins include welding support to enhance strength.
Joists boast the strength to support the anticipated load. Typically, the fabrication and installation of framing members, especially joists, must meet stringent building code standards. Joists help ensure a safe and stable floor or ceiling system by limiting stress and deflection.
Trusses refer to various elements like beams to create a rigid structure. Engineers install steel trusses in metal buildings to ensure stable construction.
Bridges are load-bearing superstructures and include corresponding elements forming triangular units. These elements may have tension or compression loads and help stabilize and support buildings.
Steel Erection Best Practices
According to BLS fatality data, steel erection is one of the most hazardous occupations. Steel erection includes metal buildings, high-rise structures, and signs. To ensure the safety of team members, builders must comply with the following safety practices:
Best Practices for Sequencing
Sequencing steel erection projects is crucial for a successful project. Engineers may refer to sequencing as divisions, zones, and areas. It’s always wise to consult a general contractor to identify which direction the steel construction project will head. After meeting with the general contractor, the erector should determine the size and divisions depending on the crane size. Steel erectors also request interior access. Moreover, if your project requires sequencing, you must meet with the fabricator to fabricate components according to the desired specifications. The general contractor, fabricator, and erector must be on the same page.
Best Practices for Safety
To ensure the safety of your employees, steel erectors must:
- Develop a written safety and accident prevention guideline
- Foster a culture to ensure the safety of team members on every step
- Keep all equipment, tools, and machinery are in perfect shape
- Make it mandatory to ensure a clean and well-organized site
- Maintain a highly-trained and qualified ironworkers
- Require 100% fall protection
Best Practices for Structural Stability
- Avoid placing construction loads on structural steel
- Maintain the structural stability of steel buildings
- Positioning and installing temporary bracing is essential to ensuring the strength of the structure
- You may remove temporary bracing with the approval of a competent person
Best Practices for Connections
- A competent engineer determines the number of bolts required to ensure stability
- Avoid using connections to the top flanges, joists, or beam attachments
- During a steel erection, secure diagonal bracings with multiple bolts or wrench tight
- If two beams frame from opposite sides, consider using a clipped connection
- Size to support the weight of the construction process
Best Practices for Bolting and Torquing
- Avoid leaving unsecured objects at elevations
- Follow stringent bolting instructions
- Inspect bolt bags daily
- Tie off impact wrench
- Use retaining rings on impact sockets
Identify Construction Needs
Before investing in steel erections, it’s essential to identify the type of structure you’re planning to construct.
Commercial structures have a unique design process. Moreover, industrial designs are dissimilar from residential facilities.
Thus, all structures have unique planning, designing, and construction processes and require varying sizes, dimensions, and designs.
Why Do Erectors Conduct Site Visits before Steel Erection?
Before starting steel erection activities, engineers must conduct several site visits. Site visits serve several purposes, including confirming that a project matches your skillset.
It’s also wise for steel erectors to consult a foreman running the project on on-site visits. During one, steel erectors tend to check:
- If there are powerlines that need insulation or relocation
- If there is adequate and easy access to the site
- If the general contractor is on track to kick start the project
- If the lay-down area is appropriately graded, well-drained, and firm
- If masonry walls or stud bearing walls are ready
- If roof opening dimensions are verified
- If you need to remove objects in the place of a crane
- If the project occurs in a flight path
Site visits are essential to make the steel erection process smoother and prevent costly delays.
Steel Erection Techniques
Erecting steel components occur in two ways:
- By Using Cranes- Lifts steel sections into place
- By Using Mobile Elevating Work Platforms – Enables steel erectors and other builders to stand on its platform to access sections for bolting
Let’s discuss both steelwork techniques in detail down below:
Mobile Elevating Work Platforms
MEWPs help access steelwork during erection, including bolting pieces and joining sections. Engineers may use mobile elevating work platforms on the ground or partly erected steelwork to install elements according to specified measurements. Before using a MEWP, it’s essential to identify how much weight it can support.
Cranes may be of two types:
These require little set-up time and no backup crane. Thus, mobile cranes are ideal for one-off, single-day commissions. Mobile cranes may be of the following types:
- All-terrain Cranes
- Crawler Cranes
- Truck Mounted Cranes
It covers tower cranes that engineers can assemble on site. Moreover, tower cranes require a second to start functioning. However, remember that set-up and dismantling a tower crane can be costly.
Why Choose Steel for Buildings?
No matter if you’re planning to construct a residential, industrial, or commercial building, your priority is to look for a strong base. Luckily, steel is the perfect material for constructing a robust and resilient building. Let’s discuss the pros of choosing steel for construction:
Boost the Speed of Construction Projects
Using structural steel is an excellent way of speeding up your construction timeline. Structural steel fabrication boosts the erection cycle and design to help finish work quicker. Structural steel is also essential for enhancing constructional productivity levels.
Steel Erections are Lightweight
Steel beams are comparatively lightweight than wood and cement beams. Moreover, steel I-beam weighs less than LVL, glulam, and parallel beams. It helps decrease the required labor and costs to ship and install steel components.
Reduces Project Costs
Structural steel not only enhances the structural integrity of your building but also ensures lower costs:
- Structural steel grabs the cost leader for current constructional materials
- Structural steel improves productivity at lower costs
Enhances Aesthetic Appeal
Architects and engineers alike recognize and praise the beauty of structural steel fabrication. It offers grace, elegance, slenderness, and strength, making it the perfect option for creating durable and aesthetic buildings.
Unparalleled Customization Options
Designers and engineers prefer steel because of its ability to transform into various shapes. Builders can bend and mold structural steel in endless ways, no matter the simplicity or complexity of the design. Thanks to its customization options, engineers can use steel in old mills, skyscrapers, garages, and everything in between.
The Bottom Line
Steel fabrication and erection is a tedious and challenging task that requires immense knowledge, practice, and knowledge. But done suitable, steel erection offers various benefits like enhancing productivity, improving aesthetic appeal, and reducing project costs. Ready to invest in a residential or commercial construction project? Select structural steel erections to improve the strength and resilience of your building.
Read more about MWM’s industrial construction expertise and services. We have a vetted group of sub-contractors and partnerships with various engineering and architectural firms for complete design-build applications.