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How Steel Estimators Can Drive Shop Accuracy, Efficiency and Profitability

Steel estimators play a powerful role in the overall profitability of their fabrication shops. Maintaining costs and accurately bidding for new projects not only influences key stakeholders in important decision-making processes but also supports overall profit growth . 

By combining accurate data, workflow efficiency and the right technology,  estimators in the steel fabrication business are able to effectively manage risk, win more bids and ultimately increase profits.

Accurate Project Estimates

The steel estimator can play a key role in efficient cost control and improved profit margins by providing accurate estimates on steel projects. There will, of course, be external factors affecting the accuracy of your estimates (i.e. price fluctuations and supply of materials, global economic trends, etc.),  however, there are certain strategies you can use to mitigate the effects of factors outside of your control. 

Correctly calculating the amount of steel needed, how long each phase of the project will take and the costs per project are the tenets of steel fabrication estimating, and no easy feat to properly do. That’s where current technology comes in, making it easier to meticulously plan large-scale steel fabrication projects. 

For example, steel fabrication estimating software can help create more realistic bids and cost estimates for prospective projects. With fast, intelligent modeling, you can study alternative structural solutions for steel structures. What’s more, often you can create cost estimates by extracting the bill of materials—and even labor associated with them—from the model, and ensure constructability by identifying potential problems early on in the process. Taken together, these steel estimating software tools lead to more realistic bids and cost estimates—both key strategies to grow profits.  

Increased Workplace Efficiency

One challenge steel estimators routinely face is needing to predict all facets of the construction workflow. With such a multi-faceted process, work often tends to be siloed or diluted as it transitions from one person to the other, or from one format to another. Operating this way is bound to lead to inefficiencies at any given point. To mitigate the effects of a fragmented workflow, it’s important for the steel estimator to always be on the lookout for ways to streamline and manage the process. 

The most effective way to combine the estimating, detailing, fabrication and erection phases into one cohesive workflow is to adopt a tech solution that integrates seamlessly with all of them. The best available solutions allow estimators and detailers to collaborate on plans using the same model, with any changes reflected instantly across different views and adaptations. Then, the model can be exported in a format the fabrication shop can easily understand. Finally, the finished model can be used during the erection phase as they turn plans into progress. 

Your role in this process is to help identify and implement an internal solution, then make full use of it. Doing so can eliminate human error and faulty data that negatively impacts the entire process. Sometimes it can be burdensome to learn new steel fabrication estimating software, but access and early adoption is key to harnessing its potential benefits and increasing the chance of profitable success for your fabrication shop. 

Making an Impactful Bid 

Part of any estimator’s job involves helping the bid team win new work for their organization. That’s why presenting bids clearly, in a visually appealing manner, is key to success at this point in the sales funnel. 

An integrated technology platform successfully brings together all phases of the fabrication workflow and is able to accurately forecast cost and timeline, making it a highly effective tool. By adopting such a platform, you can present the advantages of your solution by producing high-quality sales presentations with powerful 3D visualizations and animations. 

In many cases, you can even extract associative drawings directly from the model. A highly visual model not only helps you communicate your steel concept, but also gives your clients a better ability to clearly understand the entire scope of the project from the get-go—mitigating any mishaps that may occur down the line. Model-based work at the bidding phase also provides you with a powerful sales tool to win more bids and ultimately grow profits.

>>Want to learn more about how steel estimators can drive shop profitability using a complete fabrication management information solution? See how McCombs Steel uses MIS software to manage fabrication in their shop.<<