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7 Factors to Optimize Your Steel Projects

May 13th, 2016

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.

5 Reasons Why Companies are Choosing Steel Construction over Concrete

March 15th, 2016

Before steel gained popularity in the early twentieth century, most structures were made of wood. Steel has become the predominate building material for the construction of buildings, high rises, bridges and other structures. Companies are turning to steel for their construction needs more now than ever before. It’s unmatched strength, design capabilities, ease of use, and many other advantages makes it the material of choice.

Let us look at the top five reasons companies are choosing steel:

 

1. Design Capabilities

 Some of the most famous structures around the world, known for their architectural beauty are made of steel. People visit faraway lands to engage in tourism to catch a glimpse of towers, churches, suspension bridges and monuments made of steel. Its natural beauty and flexibility makes it easier to address design requirements and gives architects the freedom to achieve their creative vision.

 

2. Speed of Construction

Steel buildings have the advantage of using offsite preparation to reduce erection time. This means construction components are ready for immediate erection upon arrival to the job site. It takes minimum time to construct foundations because of steel’s excellent weight to strength ratio Smaller foundations can be used.

 

3. Cost

 The ability for steel structures to be erected quickly, often leads to short-term construction periods. Clients can experience an earlier return on investment and lower finance cost. In the past 15 years, the price of Steel has gone down significantly. Productivity advantages have been achieved in the steel industry, sharing savings benefits with clients. Compared to reinforced concrete, a prefabricated structural steel frame can reduce construction cost by 3%.

 

4. Strength

Steel is one of the most sustainable materials used in construction. It is 100% recyclable and almost never loses its structure or quality. It is an environmentally friendly material free of dust, spillage, or waste, thus avoiding the need for machines and equipment counter-act such problems.

 

5. Sustainability

Steel structures are durable and do not age or decay and last longer than other construction materials. Due to its adaptability, and flexibility, future changes to its structures can be achieved with minimum disruption. Prefabricated steel construction buildings allow protection from weather and fire.

 

In conclusion, most clients are looking for aesthetic appeal, cost effectiveness, sustainability and strength when deciding on building materials and steel offers them all. Many steel structures have been considered some of the greatest achievements of mankind.

 

Design-Led Construction Helping with the Fight Against Cancer

February 26th, 2016

 

Design-led construction might be just the thing we need to get us one step closer to a cure in the fight against cancer. Studies have shown that a patient’s state of mind can directly impact their health and rate of recovery.  The healthcare industry is beginning to understand the importance of creating the optimal environments to stimulate positivity and encourage healing, and that’s where options like design-led construction come into play.

 

Health providers are beginning to design and construct facilities aimed at promoting an enhanced patient experience. For example, Kaiser Permanente has developed its Kraemer Radiation Oncology Center with an above-ground radiation treatment center, allowing patients access to natural light, views to nature, and interior colors that remind them of life outside those walls. These new construction efforts can quite possibly improve the quality of life for patients facing this illness.

 

Aim Steel has a long-standing history of structural design dictated by the needs and concerns of the projects and its clients. As is often the case with large-scale facilities such as hospitals and treatment centers, it is imperative that the designs of such buildings are not only functional, but take into consideration the needs of those who will be using these facilities.  Aim Steel strives to incorporate innovation into our business model, allowing us to continue to the lead the way in steel fabrication, engineering and design.

 

How Steel Changed the World

December 9th, 2015

 

While early humans relied on stone, wood, and iron for structural materials, it was steel that fueled the Industrial Revolution and borne modern cities. Evidence of steel tools dates back roughly 4000 years ago, and continued to advance throughout history. Following the discovery and invention of the Bessemer process[1] in the 1850s, steel exploded into one of the biggest industries in history, and was used in the creation of everything from bridges to railroads to skyscrapers and engines. It was particularly influential in North America where massive iron ore deposits helped it become one of the world’s biggest economies.

 

MODERN STEEL

 

Steel is an alloy of primarily iron and carbon. While steel has always been valuable, it was difficult to produce until recently. Since the beginning of the industrial age, steel has been an essential building material. Today, China is by far the largest consumer of the iron-based commodity. In 1943 the world was producing under 400 million tons of steel, but global production has skyrocketed since – last year, the world produced more than 1.6 billion tons!

 

Modern processes are broken into two categories: primary and secondary steel making. Primary steel making uses mostly new iron, usually with a blast furnace. Secondary steel uses scrap steel as the primary raw material. Gases created during the production of steel can be used as a source of power.

 

TIMELINE OF STEEL IN HISTORY

 

4000 BC          The Ancient World: The Spartan’s steel swords were an advantage against opposing bronze users.

 

300 BC            Damascus Steel: Developed in India, swords made from this steel became legend, as Europeans couldn’t understand how a blade could be both hard and flexible.

 

1865 AD          The Bessemer process: This development meant that large amounts of steel could be produced in bulk at a low cost. Steel began to replace iron as a major construction material.

 

1867 AD          Railroads: Cheap steel allowed rail pioneers in the United States to build more than 30,000 miles of railroad and colonize the Wild West, adding 12 new states to the Union.

 

1889 AD          Modern Cities: The first skyscraper using steel cages was built by George Fuller, and it marked the beginning of hi-rise living, multi-story hotels, and financial districts.

 

1960 AD          The Bessemer process was refined. Sixty percent of the world’s steel production runs on the basic oxygen steelmaking process, which uses oxygen rather than air to purify the steel.

 

THE FUTURE OF STEEL

 

The demand for steel is set to continue growing. Despite being a child of the industrial era, steel is still suitable for an environmentally aware age. As a sustainable material, Steel is the most widely-recycled metal in the world, with more than 80% of steel products being recycled.

 

[1] The Bessemer process was the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron prior to the open hearth furnace. The key principle is removal of impurities from the iron by oxidation with air being blown through the molten iron.

 

Hiring the Best: How to Find Strong Design-Build Candidates

November 5th, 2015

When you work with our team at Aim Steel International, you will understand why we call our process a true design-build experience. Our in-house professional services include a complete range of consulting, design, engineering, estimating, fabrication and erection.

Recruitment is one of the most important aspects of a successful build, but it can be time consuming and feel like quite a gamble. How do you ever really know if you’re hiring a qualified candidate? When determining how best to score potential design-builders, we recommend that you follow best practices for design-build procurement, which is recommended by the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).

A Two-Step Design-Build Selection

With a one-step process, a request for proposals (RFP) is issued for a project to an unlimited number of applicants. As a result, teams are asked to spend time and resources compiling laborious proposals. But with a two-step process, a request for qualifications (RFQ) is released, and teams can simply provide a résumé of experience; a much simpler and less expensive process for the applicants. Additionally, this allows you to quickly cull a short list of the top contenders and follow up with an RFP.

Why Choose a Design-Build Contractor

  1. All the same advantages as a general contractor.
  2. Simplifies the process with one-stop shopping for design and construction.
  3. Potential cost savings compared to hiring an architect for design. Significant cost savings compared to hiring an architect for design and construction administration.
  4. No disputes between the designer and contractor over design errors or interpretations, or the “right” way to build. Should result in very few change orders or upcharges related to unclear or incomplete plans and specs.
  5. Potential cost savings due to a more practical approach to design (since the design-build team is more likely to design with an eye toward construction costs).
  6. This method places engineering responsibility and steel construction under a single contract with one team and makes for more cost-effective and efficient solutions for the project.

Recommendations for Hiring a Design-Build Contractor

If you find competent, trustworthy, and reasonable people to work with, the job should go smoothly regardless of specific credentials and the structure of the work relationship. Investing your money, time and energy to get a build done is a huge undertaking. It’s important to choose a design-build contractor who will keep you well-informed throughout the process so you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

With Aim Steel International we advise the owner, based on accumulated building experience, on a course direction that will fit their budget, time constraints, and tastes in what they believe the building should look like and how it functions.

Building Permits Rise Feeding Steel Industry

July 16th, 2015

Building permits reached their eight-year high in May. In April, US housing starts had reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate (or SAAR) of 1.135 million, which was the highest level since November 2007. Notably, construction spending has breached the $1 trillion mark.

 

The spring and summer months have finally begun to shed light on the slow building industry. In April US housing starts reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 1.135 million—the highest since November 2007. By May, building permits reached an eight-year high (increasing by an impressive 25.4%). In June, construction spending toppled over the $1 trillion mark.

 

Before any building can begin, permits must be obtained from government agencies, so it’s an excellent indication of future steel needs. Higher permit applications and issuances mean that more buildings are expected to be built in the future.

 

The building and construction sector is the biggest steel consumer where, remarkably, residential construction accounts for more than one-third of total construction spending. The housing sector was among the worst affected during the financial collapse of 2008. But there has recently been some encouraging numbers from the housing industry.

 

When one side of building booms, the other side does too. So when residential building is on the upswing, commercial construction is always marching in stride. Nonresidential construction spending has been on an uptrend, increasing 4.5% year-over-year in the first five months of 2015, which has supported the demand for steel products.

5 Reasons to Invest in India’s Growing Economy

May 6th, 2015
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Aim Steel International has been watching the growth of major foreign economies all along, and the recent title stronghold has been India. With optimism for doing business in India rising, investors have recently been scrambling to put bids together.

 

Interest in India existed and shoppers were biting before the economic collapse in 2008, but China received most of the attention of foreign investors once the economy started to bounce back. Sentiment for investing in India improved again when Narendra Modi was elected prime minister on a business-friendly reform agenda in May 2014.

 

Investors have been rewarded for investing in India over the past year. Looking at economic indicators, Aim Steel’s recent investment in India has allowed us to best cull the indicators of growth in the region:

 

  1. In 1970, the GDP of India stood at $63.5 billion. In 2012, the GDP of India rose to an astonishing $1.84 trillion. This is roughly a 2900% increase.
  1. India is now the 10th-largest economy in the world based on market-exchange rates. But based on purchasing power parity (PPP), India is the third-largest economy in the world. PPP may not be widely known to investors, but it is worth consideration. PPP is designed to eliminate misleading comparisons of GDP based on converting India’s GDP into U.S. dollars.
  1. One of the best predictors of the long-term potential of a growing, mostly market-based economy is demographics. India offers a young population; more than 50% of its population is below the age of 25.
  1. India is expected to become the world’s second largest producer of crude steel in 2015-16, moving up from the fourth position, as its capacity is projected to increase from 100 million metric tons (MT) to about 112.5 MT in 2015-16.
  1. With infrastructure development and automotive industry driving steel demand, production is expected to hit 140 MT by the end of 2016. In other words, India is the economic hotspot.

 

Structural steel isn’t the only industry surging in India. As the population continues to grow and urbanize, foreign investors such as Volvo, IKEA, General Motors, Starbucks, Singapore Airlines, and Lockheed Martin have already staked their claim in the advancing economy. Competition for smart opportunities is fierce and will only intensify as the business climate improves.

 

Commercial Building Industry Sees Rise in Metal Systems

April 3rd, 2015

 

In recent years, during the sluggish recovery of the economy after the Great Recession, the commercial building industry has seen a tremendous resurgence in productivity. With all of this new building going on, a blend of practicality and innovation in structural materials has dominated the suppliers’ market.

 

According to predictions made by Jones Lange LaSalle on behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors, commercial building will increase 15% in 2015. Office construction has assumed a leading role in the commercial building upturn, aided by expanding private development as well as healthy construction activity related to technology and finance firms.

 

A recently published annual report of the Metal Building Manufacturer’s Association (MBMA) noted a surprising statistic, “Metal building systems now account for over 50% of new low-rise, non-residential buildings in the U.S.”

 

Because of new market innovations and system developments over the past decade, metal buildings have responded with increased functionality and aesthetic versatility. Today’s metal building systems are compatible with numerous applications, and capable of a broader range of architectural choices, fulfilling more of the market demand.

 

The metal building industry, in the form of the MBMA, is working to further saturate the market, highlighting the longterm benefits of metal building systems as a construction choice. This includes research to improve structural technology and energy performance. These advances will translate to considerable economic benefits, including accelerated project schedules, reduced site management costs and an earlier return on investment.

 

A small portion of the report speaks to the range of research initiatives and refinements of sustainability standards. They are studying the seismic performance of metal building systems, studying wind loads on roll-up doors and ways to improve design, and developing better structural connections.

 

They are also working with a primary standards-making entity, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), to refine the structural specification for metal building systems. U.S. steel alone contains 93.3% recycled steel scrap. At the end of a building’s life, 98% of all structural steel is recycled back into new steel products with no loss of its physical properties. As a result, structural steel isn’t just recycled but multi-cycled; meaning it can be recycled many times over.

 

The metal building industry is dedicated to increasing the performance and utility of products and improving the quality of the built environment. Industry leaders are driving resources toward the future, not merely trying to maintain status quo. Because of enhanced safety measures, environmental sustainability, raw strength and structural flexibility, it is little wonder that the appeal and acceptance of metal buildings is now dominating the marketplace.

 

10 Facts about the Steel Industry

February 20th, 2015

Steel ConstructionDid You Know? From the deepest depths of the sea to the stars in the universe, steel allows humans to push the boundaries of the possible. From start to finish, steel surrounds our daily lives. Whether you’re waking up, keeping time, getting in or logging on, steel is there making your everyday activity possible.

For more than 30 years, Aim Steel International has contributed to the steel marketplace, contributing to the nation’s building landscape. This material is so ubiquitous in our lives, but there’s much more to know about steel than just the products or buildings it helps to build. Here are just a few interesting facts about this material and how it affects our lives.

  1. The industry directly employs more than two million people worldwide, with a further two million contractors and four million people in supporting industries.
  2. Steel is the main material used in delivering renewable energy – solar, tidal and wind.
  3. All steel created as long ago as 150 years can be recycled and used in new products and applications, without any loss of strength.
  4. The amount of energy required to produce a ton of steel has been reduced by 50% in the past 30 years.
  5. The housing and construction sector is the largest consumer of steel today, using around 50% of world steel production.
  6. New lightweight steel is dramatically changing the market. In 1937, 83,000 tons of steel were needed to build the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Today, only half of that amount would be required.
  7. The steel industry globally spends more than $12 billion annually on improving the manufacturing process, new product development and future breakthrough technology.
  8. Approximately 25% of an average computer is made of steel. More than 332 million PCs were sold in 2014.
  9. 97% of steel by-products can be reused. Millions of tons of iron and steel are diverted from the waste stream to the recycling stream due to steel’s magnetic properties that make it the easiest material to separate from the solid waste stream.
  10. Steel is roughly 1000 times stronger than iron in its purest form.

The Utilization of a True Design-Build Process

February 9th, 2015

Design-Build Process

From the moment you begin working with our team at Aim Steel International, you will understand why we call our process a true design-build experience. Our in-house professional services include a complete range of consulting, design, engineering, estimating, fabrication and erection. This facilitates successful projects and eliminates the complex web of suppliers and vendors. Using our single-source approach means project specifications are defined early and are properly understood.

Our dedicated staff of engineers and detailers offers the best solution to value engineering. We are experienced in value engineering structures and have employed the progressive collapse system required in multi-story and complex structures for clients worldwide.

The “Pros” to using the Design-Build project delivery

Account Unity

Everyone is on the same team; the owner, architect, constructor and contractors make up the team. We’re all in this together and we all have the same goal: to arrive at a successful project that meets or exceeds the client’s expectations for their project. When challenges are encountered on the project, everyone rolls up their sleeves and works on solutions.

Total Accountability

One entity is accountable for everything, including how the end result looks, how much it costs and the time of completion. When the same group that designs the project also builds the project, there tends to be much more attention given to pricing and scheduling in the design phase. The cost of everything is taken into account early in the process.

Expertise 

Aim Steel understands costs, how buildings go together, scheduling, and options that can save the client time and money. In addition, Aim Steel uses the manufacturing business model to bring you a high quality, low cost solution to your custom project.

Professional Guidance

Aim Steel serves as a touchstone to the clients throughout the process, guiding the way to the best possible outcome. Design-Build refines a system from beginning to end and manages the chaos into orderly steps.

Involvement

We operate under the assumption that the client actually wants to be an active participant in the design and construction of their steel construction project. Such involvement is inspiring and gives the owner a lasting sense of pride upon completion.

Collaboration

The design-build project is a collaborative effort empowering the client with control and the design-build team providing their expertise of options and knowledge. One cannot survive without the other.

Open Communication

The best kind of communication is open, honest and often. Design-build is transparent because clients need to understand the process and be advised of every step of the process along the way.

Time is of the Essence

Design and construction involves managing hundreds of timelines that need to coordinate in lockstep. Design-build creates opportunities for clients to process the big decisions, ask questions and consider their options.

The purest form of the design-build process means the design-build drives the project design through construction at his risk. It is hard to change directions or jump track once the design train is heading one way, which is why cost saving and value engineering are best served in the first few meetings and in the first few design concepts.

With Aim Steel, we advise the owner, based on accumulated building experience, on a course direction that will fit their budget, time constraints, and tastes in what they believe the building should look like, how it functions, and more.