A steel detailer uses a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program to create the drawings needed by steel fabrication companies.
Working off the structural engineer's plans, the steel detailer draws each column, member and connection in detail. From this he/she compiles the Advance Bill of Materials (ABM); a comprehensive list of all the main steel components required for the building, with lengths, grades and profiles stipulated.
Next come the Anchor Bolt Drawings, which have to be approved before any concrete foundations can be poured; then the Shop Drawings for use by the fabricator. These show all dimensions, cuts, holes and welds, etc. Finally the steel detailer produces the Erection Drawings on which all the assembly marks are located.
Usually the steel detailer works in a small team with a project coordinator. The deadlines they are working to are set by the critical date that the first steel must be on site. Working backwards from this, the project coordinator determines the start dates for each phase of the project, according to the various lead-times.
The work of the steel detailer is intensive but highly satisfying when everything is kept on schedule and within budget. Keeping track requires that communications with the client are quite formalised; every conversation, phone call and email exchange is documented and packaged into Records of Communications (ROCs). The team also keeps a record of Requests For Information (RFIs) and Notices Of Change (NOCs). Quantifying these provides a transparent measure of the team's efficiency.
Good steel detailers have in common an eye for detail, enthusiasm for problem solving and an interest in structural engineering.
“It's not just about work. It's the whole package, the lifestyle, meeting all sorts of interesting people - I just love it. Some people still think it's a dirty industry. They should look more closely.”