Easier materials management and more unified processes thanks to Tekla PowerFab
Structural steel fabricator Teräselementti is one of the first companies in Finland to implement Tekla PowerFab software. Their production is now more based on the material availability than before implementing Tekla PowerFab.
“I was attending Tekla Structures training, and I mentioned that we have been looking for and testing several management information systems,” says Plant Manager Pertti Heikkinen. “Since most of our projects are designed using Tekla Structures, it felt like a good idea to try a steel fabrication solution from the same software provider. We also trusted Trimble’s motivation to localize the system for the Finnish market and support our pilot use.”
“Our implementation of the Tekla PowerFab is proceeding in baby steps, but once our staff in different departments gets more involved in the system, we’ll be realizing major benefits. At the moment, we read models into the system, import data into production planning, and utilize the drawing list, and later on we plan to extend the use of the system to tender calculation, project management and scheduling. Our organization has not yet fully recognized all the benefits that can be achieved with the system,” Heikkinen says.
“As the industry moves forward, it is absolutely necessary to start using this kind of an advanced system. Regarding procurement, we have already gained a lot in material optimization and effective use of suppliers and stock materials. Our design team can now specify material grades according to availability. There is an urgent need to increase cooperation between design, detailing and production to make production more effective,” says Heikkinen.
“We used to spend several hours - even several days in a large project - optimizing materials in an Excel file, and it involved plenty of manual calculation. Now we are able to import material data very easily into the optimization tool included in the system, where this is completed in half an hour, and the planning only requires one meeting.
Pertti Heikkinen, Plant Manager, Teräselementti Oy
Easier material optimization and storage
The price of steel has been going up, and material and purchase order optimization at an early phase of the project, enabled by Tekla PowerFab, is a major advantage for a fabricator.
“We used to spend several hours - even several days in a large project - optimizing materials in an Excel file, and it involved plenty of manual calculation. Now we are able to import material data very easily into the optimization tool included in the system, where this is completed in half an hour, and the planning only requires one meeting. The reports shows straight away how much material we must order and which steel lengths to use,” Heikkinen explains.
“With Tekla PowerFab, it is easy to calculate waste percentage, too, and to minimize wasted material is as important for a steel fabricator as it is to minimize masses in design – maybe more. We are now able to specify how many kilograms of steel are wasted, how much steel is included in the final product, and how much material to buy at which bar lengths. With Tekla PowerFab, we can optimize the sum of these three factors in one report,” Heikkinen says.
“Production planning in general is extremely important for the profitability of any fabricator, and that is where Tekla PowerFab provides excellent leverage. To improve capacity and productivity, the design team must accept the terms of production, not the other way around. In addition to software implementation, the teams must take time to agree on the process,” Heikkinen emphasizes.
“Production planning in general is extremely important for the profitability of any fabricator, and that is where Tekla PowerFab provides excellent leverage."
“Now we also design joints in the models, because Tekla EPM includes them in the design, in order to include their parts automatically in the product structures. This way their welds, too, must be designed in the profiles, which removes plenty of confusion from production. Joint design is important in terms of structural strength, too,” Heikkinen points out.
Tekla PowerFab software encourages operational integration and streamlining
Tekla PowerFab is a comprehensive software suite that covers all project, material and production management needs of a steel fabricator and enables paperless production and quality control. Information for the project needs to be entered into the system only once, after which it is available to all involved in real time throughout the life cycle of the project. Visualization is one of Tekla PowerFab’s strong points. The software is quick to learn and easy to use. In addition to Tekla PowerFab, Teräselementti uses Tekla Structures and Trimble Connect software.
“At our project meetings, we always look at the model created in Tekla Structures, for the bills of materials, for example, using Trimble Connect. In a large project, we can edit and filter the model to only focus on the sections under construction at the moment. This saves us time and data processing capacity. Thanks to the new features in Trimble Connect, we now have better integration and more Tekla EPM data to see,” Heikkinen says.
“There are more meetings now at the plant, but our operations are now collaborative and transparent, which results in better quality for the client. Cooperation between the design and production teams adds to design hours and steers their work, but the design department must be aware of what happens after their submission and how their design impacts the project as a whole,” Heikkinen emphasizes.
At Teräselementti, producibility is now more based on the material than before implementing Tekla PowerFab. In their production meetings, they also address detailing and machine capacity. In case of new machinery, the company tries to design joints that utilize the new machine features. Heikkinen believes that the next generation in fabrication will demand a paperless process.
“Software is used daily at production to enter work orders, finishes and shipping information, and the receiving and shipping documents are printed from a tablet. Implementing this system has been easy.”
Teräselementti Oy is a family-owned Finnish company founded in 1964. Their strength lies in excellent knowledge of materials and techniques as well as fast and flexible fabrication. The company offers design, manufacturing and installation of steel halls, steel structures and facade and glass structures. Teräselementti relies on the competence of its own staff in design, fabrication and assembly.
Read more about the Tekla PowerFab software suite: https://www.tekla.com/products/tekla-powerfab