Steel-related contracting is currently in an important phase of change – and that’s good news, because it means new efficiencies are being uncovered every day. Here are the top seven factors that you should consider for increasing profit, cutting down on waste, and creating more valuable industry relationships.
1. Taking the Owner’s Point of View
It’s rare that any building team gets to choose the owners that they work with, but whatever the bidding process looks like for you, it’s time to rethink how you work with the owner. When you get a contract, immediately establishing contact with the owner and asking about their general aims, ideas, and requirements is vital. Knowledge is power, and stepping away from the contract and into the owner’s shoes for a minute gives you far more knowledge to work within the design phase. Many owners will have a mission statement or presentation that they have already used many times – see if you can get a look at this too, and approach design with their goals in mind.
2. Designing with the Entire Building In Mind
In addition to thinking about what owners need, it’s also important to consider the entire building, not just the parts and structures specified in the contract. This “building systems” approach is often invaluable when it comes to making early decisions on what components should be engineered first, and why. A holistic perspective of the building, its use, and the other surrounding materials can lead to smarter, more efficient designs and money-saving decisions that will please both contractor and owner.
3. Lowering Costs with Better Supply Management
Warehousing, manufacturing timeslots, and delivery scheduling can all lead to rising costs in a steel project, ultimately cutting into profit. However, a more efficient and robust supply management plan can lead to significant cost reductions. Plan out when to purchase materials, when to manufacture, and how to efficiently move materials at specific times – you will probably be surprised just how much money this will save you! Today’s advances in mobile systems, automated supply management, and cloud tech make this process much easier as well.
4. Buying into the Architect’s Vision
We talked about the owner, now let’s talk about the architect: The same points apply here, but with even more emphasis. Depending on the project, the owner may be too distant to contact, but there’s usually a way to access the architect no matter. It’s important to start this conversation before an architect’s work is done: Ask if there are any questions about required components, and make suggestions when appropriate. Architects welcome more options and new ways to cut costs or make a more efficient design.
5. Simplifying Product Specifications
We already briefly mentioned how technology continues to change the industry – one of the areas we are seeing this occur is in look-up tools and product designations. For example, today’s deck specification tools allow the search to select ASD or LRFD factors when looking for the right application – then further narrow down options to type, gage, yield stress, and etc. Online tools also make it easy to instantly consult specification tables and find solutions to specific problems. The result is more tailor-made components, smarter buying choices, and more customer satisfaction.
6. Replacing the RFI Process with Efficient Alternatives
RFI or “Request for Information” is a very outdated concept – one that never worked well in the first place. Studies have shown that around 32% of RFIs produce incomplete drawings and lengthen the process, increasing costs and causing other problems. If you want maximize your profit, stay away from RFIs and wait for them to die out: Collaborative tools and digital communication are quickly replacing them.
7. Using BIM in the Ground-Level Design Process
Building information model or BIM is exactly one of those online tools we’ve been talking about, allowing companies to create complete 3D models of buildings and all their components at a very precise level, including functional characteristics. The benefits of this are obvious…but companies save the most money by using BIM early on, before making any materials decisions or starting production. This lowers the number of errors and increases overall efficiency.
To learn more about how Aim Steel International can optimize your next steel project, please visit us online at www.aimsteel.com.