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Steel Fabricators (Wales) Ltd: powerful estimating, with Tekla PowerFab

Man using Tekla PowerFab on a computer

Recently, there has been a very real rise of digital information management systems within the structural steel fabrication sector, with out-dated paper-based processes being brought into the digital age. One company that has been reaping the rewards from incorporating Trimble’s Tekla PowerFab is Steel Fab (Wales) Ltd.

Following the introduction of Trimble’s steel fabrication management software suite into its workflow, Steel Fab (Wales) Ltd has had numerous efficiency benefits, with the software enabling them to provide an even greater service to their clients – key in a competitive market. Designed specifically for steel fabricators, Tekla PowerFab can be tailored to suit the user’s individual requirements and business setup, with different capabilities for each stage of the fabrication workflow, from estimation through to fabrication and order traceability.

Having previously been reliant on manual spreadsheets for the estimation and bidding stage of projects, Steel Fab (Wales) Ltd made the decision to introduce Tekla PowerFab to the business back in 2019. 

Speaking about the decision, Gareth Davies, Managing Director, said: While we’d used spreadsheets for estimates for many years, this approach was prone to error. Also, as the business grew, it became clear that this wasn’t always suitable for the larger projects we were wanting to bid for. It was around this time that Trimble launched Tekla PowerFab; we had a demonstration of the software and really liked it.

Today, we use PowerFab for every job estimate that we do. We’ve seen real, tangible results, with our ability to produce more estimates each week leading to more work. It’s a logical outcome: the more bids and estimates you can generate, the more work you’re going to win. In fact, we now have a full year of orders on the system – an achievement that is in part thanks to Tekla PowerFab.

Not only is it a far faster and easier process, using Tekla PowerFab at the estimation stage has helped to improve the accuracy of our estimates. We’re able to draw out more accurate weights and attributes, which in turn leads to more accurate costs and a more competitive quote. Previously, spreadsheets could be out by a few tonnes when it came to material quantities required, leading to our profit margins taking a hit. Now, we have more confidence in our pricing and more confidence in our estimates.

Steel Fab Wales has also been using Tekla PowerFab’s purchase ordering system to manage its material orders, such as cladding, gutter and timber.

Gareth commented: We’ve actually had some positive feedback from our suppliers since switching to managing our orders via Tekla PowerFab, thanks to the more streamlined ordering process. Rather than placing orders over the phone and often having a long paper trail to navigate, it’s now all digital. Providing us with better traceability and organisation, it also makes it easier to identify order issues, when and if they arise.

As well as the major materials, we can also better track and trace the ancillary items used everyday, such as paint and bolts. We now have insight into the precise numbers allocated to and used on each job, whereas before it was always an educated guess. This contributes to more informed purchasing and can help us to better predict future expenditure.

Screenshots of Tekla PowerFab

While the benefits of going digital and introducing a digital information management system (like Tekla PowerFab) is clear, something that can often prevent companies from digitising is the need to upskill and train their workforce on the new technology. However, this doesn’t have to be seen as an obstacle.

Gareth said: The support received from Trimble has been really great throughout. It was a case of working together as a team to make sure the Tekla PowerFab system was set up right for us, ensuring that it was aligned with what we needed and how we work. It was then the case of having a one-week training session to learn how to use the software. I haven’t used a spreadsheet since!

Now, we’re in the process of creating a new brand-new workshop with an emphasis on digital technology and automation. Once this is up and running, we’ll then be able to utilise even more aspects of Tekla PowerFab. The technology is embedded in our business, now we can grow with it. With Trimble and Tekla PowerFab, we’re able to make life a lot easier for ourselves.

Learn more about Tekla PowerFab.