Midland Steel builds constructible models virtually before going to site in order to reduce risk. They use software as a tool to facilitate rebar prefabrication process in their projects.
In the top tier of independent fabricators in the UK and Ireland, Midland Steel’s bent rebar fabricating operation focuses on value engineering and rationalization. As such, one of the key drivers to the business is to promote collaborative working within its industry.
“From our experience within the construction industry and working on projects that include a BIM process, we have discovered that there are many business benefits that come with adopting an open and joint approach to a project,” said Tony Woods, Managing Director at Midland Steel.
“For example, we are currently trying to get to a stage in the business where we can collaboratively work with everybody to reduce delays and costs. The benefits of everyone involved in a project using 3D modeling are huge as it provides a greater understanding of how the building works during the construction ‑ which ultimately results in a smooth process all round.”
For Midland Steel, Tekla Structures is ideal due to its ability to precisely build constructible models to visualize larger quantities of material and produce accurate schedules and drawings from the model.
“From the most intricate jobs to the easiest projects, it (Tekla) enables you to save money on a daily basis: in prefabrication, waste, design engineering and in adding value.“
Tony Woods, Managing Director, Midland Steel
Tony explains further: “By using Tekla Structures, we are able to help contractors make cost savings as it provides a full package: beginning with a model, rebar detailing and a collaborative discussion with the contractor regarding his program of works, through to the delivery sequence and finally, the elements delivered on site. The investment in the software is recognized the minute you start working with it, as you can instantly start reducing costs and time on projects. The software is fantastic and we’re using it because we believe it is the best in the market.”
From 2D drawing to 3D model and manufacture
In the initial stages of a project, Midland Steel reviews an engineer’s 2D drawings before converting them into a 3D model using Tekla Structures, to detail every element against the design brief. The constructible model is then submitted back to the engineers and the contractor for review.
“At this stage, we’ve involved the contractor and the engineer, and as such, everybody is in agreement as to what they can physically see in 3D so there are no questions later saying, ‘I never saw that in the drawing.’ We then plan with the contractor the delivery sequence,” clarifies Tony. “That’s the most important thing to take from this: that contractor involvement with the engineer and ourselves, collaboratively, is the only way it will work, pre-planning is pre-succession and no planning is planning no future.”
Midland Steel creates all the essential building information in the Tekla 3D model and because of this, it is infinitely more dynamic than traditional drawings, easier to adapt to design changes, find and fix errors and plan to avoid any potential difficulties in the build.
In its factories, Midland Steel utilizes production software to manage fabrication of its ‘Cut And Bend Rebar’. Due to Tekla’s ability to link accurate model data with different industry software solutions, Midland Steel can send data to production directly from the constructible model. Easy to understand 3D model information then helps the fixers to produce prefabricated cages effectively and without errors.
"We are now able to take information from the model directly into the software at the factory and export the schedule."
Tony Woods, Managing Director, Midland Steel
Tony continues: “We are now able to take information from the model directly into the software at the factory and export the schedule. We’ve no data entry from our side then in the office, so it helps us there, while errors are also eliminated at that point.”
“The 3D images and the 3D model on the Tekla BIMsight viewer are being used by all our production staff -and in prefabrication, we are using the model more than 2D drawings that we produce from the model, to actually fix the steel. Because the information that is on the schedules generated from the model is that detailed, we can actually fix the steel from the model now. It’s an enormous advantage to the fixers.”
Constructible models aid collaboration
By using Tekla BIMsight collaboration software, all project participants can review, comment and make suggestions about the model and design. This open collaboration has significant benefits for all parties of the supply chain throughout the entire design and build stages.
With Tekla software and Midland Steel being responsible of the detailing, the rebar fabricator is in control of the program of the deliveries of the schedules. Contractors are able to extract from a model what they have made or lost against a budget on a daily basis, thanks to quantities they get from Tekla Structures. Continuous collaboration with the contractor already from the start of a project will help them to keep the project on track and monitor changes. Indeed working with a contractor to create an effective plan and a schedule will benefit the entire project and remove the hand to mouth culture.
"We want to take Tekla software to all of our concrete customers and use it to maximum benefit. The investment in Tekla Structures is recognised the minute you start working with it, as you can instantly start reducing costs and time on projects."
Tony Woods, Managing Director, Midland Steel
Tony goes on to explain the efficiencies of using BIM for 3D visualization: “With BIM, there is a big difference in looking at a 2D drawing and looking at a 3D model. 3D visualization actually allows you to pre-empt and identify problems. Before we even meet the project timeline, we’ve identified probably 95% of the issues that will arise in the project prior to ever happening. So if you utilize 3D detailing and BIM in your project, you see your cost line is probably about 20% lower than it is against the traditional process today. It’s a big step change for some, but using BIM helps you to save money by identifying any problems prior to build.”
Accurate information drives value engineering
For Midland Steel the use of Tekla software is in an effort to become more knowledgeable in all areas of its operations; live information, prioritizing and organizing itself as a company and also organizing concrete contractors and main contractors on site. The company’s focus in the future is therefore to reduce the labor cost on site, which is the most expensive part of reinforcing in global terms.
Looking at Fig 1. Formwork makes up approximately 50% -60% of the total volume of cost on a project, concrete materials about 18%, the labor on concrete totals about 5% to 6%, while the formwork materials makes up about 6%. The balance of reinforcement supply, prefabricated, and reinforcement labor costs are spread equally at around 9%.
“If you take out your labor cost, break it down and can improve on it, automatically you’re going to improve the concrete frame program. You’re going to improve the prelims on the project. You’re going to improve the program time achieved. We believe as a company, prefabrication is probably the way to go to improve our business and our main focus for the future. We have proved it on a few occasions with Tekla that by having knowledge prior to actually producing an element, there is an enormous advantage – for example, approximately £250,000 to £300,000 was saved just on one project alone,” comments Tony.
By effectively using the 3D Tekla model, Midland Steel has proven to reduce formwork labor cost by 20%, efficiency on rebar fixing on site 60% and costs overall by 25%.
Labor intensive processes, such as formwork and reinforcement, can be addressed, planned and subsequently improved using the 3D model created in Tekla Structures.
By effectively using the 3D Tekla model, Midland Steel has proven to reduce formwork labor cost by 20%, efficiency on rebar fixing on site 60% and costs overall by 25%. Tony explains: “In the past, you can have a fixer foreman who spends 85% of their time inside an office; reading the drawings and relaying that information - they are just directing 15% of their time into actual physical labor. Now by using 3D model information from Tekla, they are able to move around the site with an iPad and read the elements they are about to fix, therefore becoming significantly more productive. The progression of using Tekla 3D imagery, scheduling internally, fabricating internally, and dropping prefab rebar elements on the site has improved overall efficiency on site by approximately 50-60%.”
Modeling and visualizing the concrete in Tekla software enables accurate assessments of the area of formwork required. Having this knowledge allows for the precise ordering of materials, as well as the exact planning of where formwork can be reused and scheduled – this is value engineering deriving from having the accurate quantities and dimensions of the concrete modeled in Tekla. In addition, the 3D model reduces the likelihood of unforeseen errors onsite, preventing the requirement for additional labor to rectify mistakes.
Tony concluded: “The advantages of using Tekla as a rebar modeling system is that it entails very accurate information. Compared to other leading software systems we’ve trialed for 3D and BIM, we were very confident that Tekla software would best demonstrate our business. From the most intricate jobs to the easiest projects, it enables you to save money on a daily basis: in prefabrication, waste, design engineering and in adding value. Additionally, the schedules are very prescriptive, extremely easy to read and input.”
Key business benefits
- Elimination of approximately 60% of the onsite time for installing reinforcement steel
- Approximately £250,000 to £300,000 saved just on one project, equivalent to about 40% of reinforcement steel by weight
- Specialized software solutions through the structural concrete supply chain, for main contractors, structural engineers, and Midland Steel’s dedicated Building Information Modeling (BIM) team
- Midland Steel is able to help contractors make cost savings as Tekla Structures provides a full information package for collaboration, from constructible model through to delivery on site
- Using Tekla produces highly detailed Building Information Models; provides the ability to visualize a constructible model of a project and identify problems immediately, allowing them to be solved at that point rather than later on site