How Steel Buildings Are Manufactured

Have you ever wondered how steel buildings are manufactured? The process is both complicated and precise. The manufacture of a steel building is an awesome combination of engineering, draftsmanship, ingenuity, teamwork, know-how and metal building manufacturing expertise. Each building receives the utmost care and attention throughout the manufacturing process, manufactured by experienced craftsmen and watched over by a dedicated staff of professionals from start to finish. Precision engineering, machinery and components plus exceptional quality control yield a precision high quality manufactured product.

Once a customer has purchased a pre-engineered steel building or metal building system, their sales person, who performs multiple functions of building consultant, building designer, technician and estimator, forwards the purchaser’s order to the steel building factory. In the top metal building factories, the factory itself fabricates all required building components in house. That way, all components are compatible and go together easily on the job site with no surprises and no waiting for components to arrive from different suppliers.

At the steel building factory, the order entry department oversees the order from start to finish, from the time the order is received until the steel building is shipped. Steel building factory staff verifies all design codes, snow and wind loads and seismic information to make sure that everything complies with the purchaser’s contract and enters the order into scheduling software to ensure that the buildings manufacture is efficiently managed.

Pre-engineered steel buildings engineers are responsible for optimization of the steel building, each engineer certified by the state where the building will be constructed. Building details including snow and wind loads and seismic information is input into an advanced metal building software program that generates engineered shop drawings for the framing of the building as well as other drawings needed for the buildings manufacture and construction.

The metal building factory’s pre-engineered steel building engineers review the building drawings and check the purchase order again for accuracy. Permit drawings are generated that can be used to help secure permits to erect the building.

Actual building production begins with the input of building specifications into CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinery, a process that involves the use of computers to control machines programmed with CNC machining language (G-code). The CNC machinery controls all machine features including feeds and speeds. 

Components of steel buildings, such as I-beams, gutters and down spouts, sidewalls and end wall panels, and even standing seam roofs are systematically manufactured in designated areas called “lines” throughout the metal building factory. Each manufacturing line completes a specific function, automated by use of conveyors that move the steel sheeting, I-beams and fabricated metal components from station to station. Since each steel building is manufactured to order, building components are produced as required to fulfill each steel buildings exact specifications. 

The manufacture of steel buildings rafters and columns begins with the Plasma Table. The Plasma Table cuts the web, the center of the rafter or column (like the center of the letter “H”). The web moves to a holding station waiting to move by automated conveyor to the station where the web will be tack-welded to the flange. 

The flange machine cuts flanges into specified lengths determined by the pre-engineered buildings specifications from steel bar stock. After cutting, the flanges move to a holding station waiting to move by automated conveyor to the station where the flanges will be tack-welded to the web prior to going through the automatic welding machine. 

Certified welders tack-weld flanges and webs in place to form rafters and columns. The tacked rafters and columns move by conveyor to the PHI machine. At the PHI machine, an automatic welding process fuses the web and flange materials, permanently welding the flanges to the web. A Welding Inspector checks all welds to ensure that strict AISC standards are met. 

Roof and sidewall panels are fabricated from steel sheeting. Large coils of metal sheeting are placed in a machine called an “uncoiler” which passes the sheeting through another machine called a “straightener” that straightens the sheet. The straightened sheet is die cut and passes through a roll former to give the straightened sheet the shape of roof or sidewall sheeting. As with all machinery in the steel building factory, computers are feeding information to the metal corrugation machine giving it the exact specifications for each building. 

Sophisticated machinery on the Trim Line automates the process by which custom trim is formed and ensures exact bends and perfect angles. Starting with a coil of steel mounted on an uncoiler, the steel passes through a straightener to a series of ten roll formers that form the shape of each trim and make all trim components: rake trim, corner trim, jamb trim, head trim, base trim, eave trim, rake angle, base angle, gutter straps, downspouts and gutters. 

Out in the yard the Staging Department gathers all the steel building components and carefully loads them onto trucks to deliver the building to the job site. Special attention is given to the Bill of Materials ensuring that every order is complete and accurate. The Traffic Office handles the shipment of each building, scheduling trucks and coordinating buildings to arrive at the job site on time where the erection crew is waiting for delivery.

How Proper Building Design Can Heat Your Home

How much do we truly know about passive solar and how it works? Basically, passive solar is a design incorporated into the construction of a building, aimed at the accumulating solar energy and distributing it into the home as heat during winter or the cold season. During the heat of summer, it also regulates heat and prevents it from reaching excessive levels. As mentioned, it is worked into the design of the home or the building before construction has even started, so it’s not something you can add on later as a building improvement and structural addition.

Passive Solar Design

The first consideration when thinking of integrating a passive solar energy system into the building is its general location and design with respect to the sun. How much of the sun’s solar power would the house be exposed to in a specific location? Will the angle of the roof and the building, as a whole, enable it to have full advantage of the sun’s solar energy? Geography plays a significant role in any building design with passive solar energy in mind, and this is apparent in how homes in the northern hemisphere are normally built to face the south in order to get more than enough amount of sunlight.

The interior of the home will also have to be carefully thought over, especially the structural relationships among the ceiling, walls, and the windows. They should be designed to be flexible in coping with changes in temperature as well as the seasons. How much insulation do the ceiling and roof provide to regulate heat and cold? Are the walls as capable of warding off the cold and keeping the heat in without trapping it to high levels?

During summer, the sun is at its peak, so having a sloping roof and an overhang or wide awnings on windows will provide much needed shade and protection against heat when it gets too warm. However, during winter, when sunlight is limited, tall vertical windows built facing towards the south will ensure that the home still gets enough sunlight.

Other Important Considerations in Passive Design

I’ve already mentioned about insulation earlier in passing. Now let us dig deeper. In order to allow circulation of air currents inside the building, the walls and the roof have to be designed with vents. Aside from vents, certain thermal materials will have to be fabricated into the building itself so as to regulate heat accordingly, as the seasons and temperature changes. In this way, warm air will be kept within the interiors of the building during the cold season, but during the warmth of summer it will also be able to escape easily instead of being trapped inside.

Many countries in the world now recognize the benefits of using passive solar techniques in providing heating. Even the homes in Scotland, where it is particularly cold and rainy most days of the year, have been found to derive 15% of their heating from solar energy. If this trend continues, not only will it slow down the depletion of other energy sources currently being used, it will also lower the current costs being personally spent by people on energy consumption. It is a global concern, so it follows that this solution also has a global impact.

Architect or Building Designer – Who Do You Choose?

Thinking of building a new home or complex? Will you use an architect or a building designer?

Both are involved in the design of buildings – their appearance, layout, structure, and so on. But what’s the difference?

The simplest difference is a legal one. To be called an “architect” in NSW, you have to be registered with the Board of Architects of NSW. The title “building designer” can be used by anyone designing buildings.

But that’s hardly even scratching the surface. Brian Basford is a building designer and treasurer of the Building Designers Association of NSW. He suggests that building designers are generally less expensive, and mostly involved in less flamboyant buildings. “It’s horses for courses. Most architects probably wouldn’t want to design a single bedroom extension for a pensioner, whereas I’ve done a lot of that.”

Brian also stressed that there are quite often overlaps between what architects do and what building designers do. There’s no simple rule. “But no matter what the job, good building designers and good architects both produce quality work”, he says.

Architect Gary Kurzer agrees that architects are more likely to be involved with more distinctive, “up-market” buildings. But not because of cost. “Architects work to your budget just like building designers. The real reason is that architects are a little more likely to stretch the boundaries and challenge convention.”

According to Gary, you should generally choose an architect if you want more than just a literal translation of your brief. “My clients normally have a rough idea of what they want. I take that idea and transform it into something they love, but could never have imagined themselves.”

The most important thing is knowing what you want from the service, and choosing someone that suits your job.

And whether you choose an architect or building designer, remember, qualifications are no guarantee of quality. Always ask to see previous examples of their work. Ask for references from previous customers. Ask to see their qualifications. Ask how long they’ve been working. Do they have professional indemnity insurance? Are they a member of an accredited body?…

In the end, it’s like anything else… there’s no substitute for common sense.

Thanks to Gary Kurzer, Architect, 0411044448, and Brian Basford, Building Designer.

FAQs

Q: Are architects and building designers the same thing?

A: No. Architects must be registered with the Board of Architects of NSW.

Q: Will I get a better design from an architect?

A: Not necessarily. The only guarantee is a minimum level of qualifications. Architects must have a Bachelor of Architecture degree (5 years) as well as the demonstrated ability to deal with clients and satisfy their requirements. Generally this means at least a couple of years experience in an architect’s office.

Q: Are building designers more in touch with builders and other trades?

A: Not necessarily. Architects are trained to deal with and manage all aspects of the building project. It all comes down to the individual’s experience and abilities.

Q: Are Building designers “would-be” architects?

A: No. Building design is a recognised profession with its own national body (the BDAA) offering 3 levels of accreditation based on experience and quality – but registration isn’t compulsory. Many building designers have the qualifications to register with the Board of Architects but they choose not to because they don’t think the name “architect” is worth the ongoing cost of registration.

Q: Are architects more expensive?

A: Not necessarily. An architect will work to your budget like a building designer. They can do anything from a simple design to very complex interior and exterior detailing to superintendence of the building process. Your building costs and ongoing running costs may also be less. For example, find out if your architect is incorporating cost-saving measures into the building process. They may also design to take advantage of natural lighting, ventilation, heating, cooling, etc. which will save you less in electricity.

Q: How do I tell if they’re really an architect?

A: Call the Board of Architects of NSW – (02) 93564900 or visit [http://www.boarch.nsw.gov.au/f_consumer.html].

Q: How do I look for an accredited building designer?

A: Call the Building Designers Association of NSW – Sydney (02) 49264855 or visit http://www.bdansw.com.au or [http://www.bdaa.com.au/index.htm].

Q: Where else can I go for further information?

A: http://www.architecture.com.au – Royal Australian Institute of Architects

http://www.bdansw.com.au – Building Designers Association of NSW