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The power of data in business longevity

Chris Gatehouse and Matt Hastwell using Tekla PowerFab in the fabrication workshop at Wareing Buildings

"It completely changed how I do my job. Before we just took paper drawings down and left the team on site to do it. Now, there is a workflow you can follow through Tekla PowerFab."

Founded more than a century ago, Wareing Buildings in Lancashire, one of the UK's leading fabricators and constructors of steel-framed buildings, prides itself on being a family business primarily focused on excellent customer service and continuous innovation. Operating for more than 110 years, they know a thing or two about business longevity and use technology to stay ahead of their competition. Their teams are early adopters of many of our Trimble technologies, being the most prolific users in the UK & Ireland of our Tekla PowerFab production management software.

Leaning against a 1964 Ford Thames truck, once used by the company to transport their steel frames, Matthew Hastwell, Steel Detailer and Innovation Consultant tells us about the transformation of their business since adopting Tekla PowerFab as their production management system:

Wareing has been around since 1909. We've predominantly remained in business because we are innovators, we’ve moved with the times. The biggest impact that we've seen since implementing Tekla PowerFab is data. We've never ever had data before. We've never had sales information before - what made a profit, what didn't, how much steel we were physically fabricating. We had no idea what we were ordering, or what we had stock-wise. Everything was just bits of paper and each individual knew what they had.

Matthew continues, We use Tekla PowerFab for accounting, we use it to order everything here. We use it to sort our transport. We've even manipulated the inspections on it to do paint reports or servicing reports on our vehicles in the garage.

"That's the beauty of the software. You can literally make it do anything you want."

Inside the Heritage Centre at Wareing Bulidings

If you've got an idea, it's possible. Do your inspection, and do whatever you want to do. The inspections are there, they’re on your phone, they’re on a tablet. They’re on any device, web-enabled. Take a picture and it's in your database, instantly. Everyone can view it, at any time.

Jonathan Tickle, Steel Detailer, compares what his job was like before using Tekla PowerFab: Before, we just took paper drawings down and left the team on site to build it. Now, there is a workflow you can follow through Tekla PowerFab. It helps us track where we’re up to, whether steel has been cut, whether it's been fabricated, how much has been fabricated, and, most importantly, what's been fabricated.

When we needed to phase in the job and needed certain parts first, the teams on site used to ring up a lot more because you couldn't pick up the information from the drawing; you couldn't physically see it. Whereas now they have an iPad on site and they can see the model as we see it in front of us in the office.

Jonathan continues, It's very handy having the architects, the engineers and the groundwork contractors all in the system, so the drawings can go through everybody at the click of a button, and then we obviously use it to send information down to the workshop.

workers using Tekla PowerFab in the fabrication workshop and in the office at Wareing Buildings

Many don’t realize Tekla PowerFab is a standalone solution that sits alongside Tekla Structures and is fed by the Tekla Structures models, harnessing the power of the data-rich environment that is created by the drawing office. It's not a tool that is designed to be used by detailers, it's for everybody else who can benefit from those models - estimators, purchasers, and to make sure shipping and site have access to the same information, which is accessible on the desktop and on-the-go formats.

Chris Gatehouse, Detailing & Manufacturing Specialist at Trimble, explains how Tekla PowerFab works: The intention with Tekla PowerFab is to make sure that everybody’s got access to the information when they need it. It eliminates the need to go over to a person and find out what they did, when and how they did it.

"With access to the same information you can estimate, purchase, track, and control your inventory easily, accessing the same information through desktop and on-the-go. This makes it so much easier for everyone to be on the same page."

The same benefits can also be felt at the procurement stage, where effective stock control management is guaranteed. With everyone invested in and using the software, production managers can have an instant view of where every individual piece of steel currently is within the fabrication sequence. Not only this, but you can also instantly view the level of material stock you currently have, compared to what you need for upcoming jobs.

This new way of working and managing steel production also massively contributes to reducing waste and being a ‘greener’ business. Whether caused by errors at the detailing stage or the inefficient transfer of information to fabricators and contractors, material wastage can be a major potential problem on any construction project. This could take the form of structural components being fabricated and delivered to the site, only for contractors to then discover that they cannot be used, due to clashing with other sections. Increasing levels of accuracy and communication from office to site and back can massively reduce that risk of rework.

Watch the video to find out more about Wareing Buildings’ secret to business longevity and how they are using the best technology available to keep their workforce current and ready for the next 110+ years.

Learn more about how Tekla software can help you plan for smarter steel project delivery.