Steel is the backbone of the construction industry and a driver of many economies globally. Its versatility makes it a material of choice for most construction projects. Steel is also lighter and less bulky compared to other construction materials. Moreover, steel is a strong and durable construction material that fits almost every construction project. Here, we discuss the various steel construction methods and designs to help you expand your knowledge of steel application in the industry.
Conventional Steel Fabrication
Conventional steel fabrication is the traditional method of constructing steel structures. The process involves designing, measuring, cutting, bending, and welding steel plates and sections to create the desired structure. Conventional steel fabrication can happen at the construction site or in a steel fabrication shop. However, most contractors prefer fabricating the steel at a shop and transporting the finished product to the construction site for a faster and safer installation process.
Fabricating at a shop enhances efficiency by reducing wastage and onsite construction time. The construction cost also goes down when fabrication happens in a shop, due to increased efficiency. A factory
set setting allows the application of advanced technology and the use of automated machines, lowering labor costs. Onsite conventional fabrication, on the other hand, is labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Bolted Steel Construction
Bolted steel construction is an advancement of conventional steel fabrication. In bolted steel construction, the bulk of the work is done in a fabrication shop. Steel components are fabricated off-site, and transported to the construction site, where they are bolted together to create a structure. The factory setup enhances fabrication efficiency since the shops have the right working conditions, including lighting, technology and the absence of weather anomalies.
Once the fabrication and painting are finished, the steel components are transported to the construction sites using trucks. The size of the steel members is, therefore, dependent on the transporting truck/trailer. Flatbed trucks and trailers range from 20-40’ in length with options for oversized loads being available with added cost. The added trucking cost can outweigh the uptick from field fabrication, therefore, the cost for oversized loads may be the best option.
Many construction firms prefer bolted steel construction due to its quick installation time and lesser field welding requirements. Moreover, bolted steel construction is cost-effective compared to conventional steel fabrication. These advantages make bolted steel construction a preferred method for the construction of industrial buildings, warehouses, and other large structures.
Light Gauge Steel Construction
Light gauge steel construction uses thin steel sections that are cold-formed into shapes in a shop and assembled on-site. This construction method is popular for residential and small buildings, especially in areas with high seismic activity. It’s possible to create walls similar to wood framing with this type of construction. Several benefits of light gauge steel make it a preferred construction material for many projects.
The steel sheets are galvanized to prevent rust and corrosion, which enhances its durability. Unlike wood, steel is more resistant to pests, mold, and fire, which enhances its longevity. It is also stronger than wood and can withstand tremors during seismic activities. Moreover, light gauge steel is less bulky and more flexible than wood, which paves way for enhanced designs and modifications.
Another advantage that makes light gauge steel better than wood in construction is its environmental friendliness. Steel can be recycled or reassembled into a new building. The use of light gauge steel instead of wood also preserves forests, which reduces global warming and climate change.
Modular Steel Construction
In modular steel construction, complete building modules or units are fabricated in a factory and assembled on-site. The modules are constructed in standard sizes and shapes that are easily stacked to create a variety of building designs. These modular units may be fabricated into complete rooms or parts of a room. They can also be fabricated into highly serviced units such as washrooms or elevator
A notable advantage of modular steel construction is the speed of building erection. Since the prefabs are fabricated in a factory setting, contractors are only required to transport and assemble the units on-site. The rapid installation allows onsite assembly of 6-8 units per day. Modular steel construction is also cost-effective. Repetitive manufacturing, which is typical of factory settings creates economies of scale that reduce the cost of production.
Steel Frame Construction
Steel frame construction is a type of construction that uses steel to construct the structural framework of a building. The skeleton frame made of steel columns and beams supports the building’s weight and loads. The steel beams and columns are prefabricated off-site and assembled on-site. Steel frame construction has several benefits over other structural construction methods. Steel is lighter and less bulky than other construction materials, such as concrete. Using lighter materials for the structural framework reduces the foundation cost and the overall construction cost. Steel is also stronger and more durable than other building materials, and can withstand earthquakes or harsh weather conditions.
Composite Steel Construction
In composite steel construction, steel is combined with other materials, such as concrete or wood to create structures with improved strength and stiffness. Several advantages of using composite steel make it a viable construction option for a structural framework. Composite steel is cheaper than non-composite steel components as you’re able to lighten the amount of concrete used by adding rebar, adding strength and reduces the overall construction cost. Composite steel frames are also lighter, which lowers foundation costs. Moreover, composite steel enhances environmental sustainability by reducing the amount of material used in the fabrication process. A reduction in the amount of materials used in construction reduces the carbon footprint of a construction project.
Pre-Engineered Steel Construction
Pre-engineered steel construction is a modern building technique that uses pre-designed and pre-fabricated steel components that are assembled on-site. This construction process produces buildings that meet specific project requirements for commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications. The pre-fabrication is done in a shop setting using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software. Technology application helps manufacture steel components that can be customized to meet specific requirements of a construction project. Moreover, the shop setting used for pre-engineered steel construction makes the process cost-effective and aids the construction of strong and durable buildings.
Learn More About Steel Construction
RK Steel plays a critical role in many of RK’s construction projects. Our steel construction experience and expertise set the foundation for fabricating and installing structural and custom steel. Contact us today to learn more.
Steel is the backbone of innovation and economic growth for most of this country’s infrastructure. Beginning in the 19th century, technological advances started making the production of steel cheaper while also improving the quality of the product, helping fuel the growth of American cities, railroads, bridges, and factories. With technological advances making it stronger and even lighter, steel is necessary to build future infrastructure.
Steel is a common and important building material because of the benefits it adds to a structure. It offers high strength durability, performance, flexibility, reduced weight, configuration adaptability and safety. It is also sustainable and cost-effective.
Benefits of Steel in Construction
Steel has not changed much since the 19th century. The reliability of the product is what makes it essential to construction. Steel is known for its strength, durability and efficiency because it can handle the wear and tear of outdoor environments. In addition, structures made from steel have longevity and require little maintenance. Another benefit of steel is that it does not need excessive space to support a structure, allowing for slender columns and better space usage.
Computer machinery has also made an impact on efficiencies in the steel industry. Prefabricated steel sections can be quickly produced in off-site fabrication shops, providing dimensional accuracy and ensuring that the steel used is the right size and density.
Steel can be shaped, cut and molded to fit different designs, making its versatility vital for all types of construction. In addition, it is one of the most sustainable construction materials due to its ability to be reused and recycled without experiencing any downgrade. Steel reduces the usage of nonrenewable minerals and does not require excessive energy or the use of harmful products. The recycling of automobiles, refrigerators and toasters, to name a few, has allowed steel to increase its overall strength and toughness, providing better resistance to heavy loads. The elements found in these products can include copper, titanium, nickel, chromium and manganese. When combined, it produces alloy steel, resulting in highly resistant properties against corrosion.
Test of Time
Steel can be installed anytime, regardless of the weather, which means projects can remain on schedule. In addition, the prefabrication of steel allows for dimensional accuracy, easy installations and efficiencies in reducing construction waste.
In addition, it is easier to modify steel buildings to accommodate new applications and vertical expansions. Engineers can effortlessly strengthen existing beams or add to existing steel-framed structures. Steel modifications can be done without the need to vacate premises, making steel construction ideal because it reduces costs and allows business to continue as usual.
RK Steel is the heart of many of RK’s construction projects. RK’s foundational knowledge in construction paired with RK Steel’s expertise in fabricating and installing structural steel, custom steel, metal products and miscellaneous metals, results in best-in-class projects.
Written by Ileana Morales
How Steel Can Improve Sustainability in Construction, accessed May 10, 2022, Nearby Engineers
Made in America: The Past, Present, and Future of the Steel Industry, accessed May 10, 2022, Boyd Metals
Pros and Cons of Using Steel in Construction Projects, accessed May 10, 2022, BuilderSpace.com
Companies are always on the lookout for employees who will stay long-term and are committed to growing and improving. Likewise, employees want to work for companies that will provide them with opportunities to develop their skills.
Mentorships are a great way to help employees, both new and experienced, expand their knowledge and personal development. They focus on positive workplace behavior and performance, providing employees with the training needed to be successful.
Traditionally, mentoring relationships have involved senior employees guiding their younger colleagues, but hierarchy and age aren’t necessarily important in modern workforces. As long as mentors have experience that can help others learn, this is all that matters. For instance, younger employees can teach older employees about ever-changing technology in the workplace.
Successful mentoring relationships can also naturally create a rich multigeneration office culture by combining the top qualities of each participant. Senior employees traditionally have a great work ethic, loyalty and dedication. Whereas, younger employees may come to work with new ideas and passion. Together, they can make for a positive and effective team.
Research has shown that workers who have a mentor enjoy greater job satisfaction, and mentors learn from those they are guiding. But, mentoring in the workplace not only benefits the mentors and mentored, it also benefits companies with increased employee retention and knowledge sharing. On top of that, mentoring programs have shown to increase company diversity, with participation expanding minority representation in management-level positions.
Top Benefits of Mentorship in the Workplace
Something important to note is that mentoring relationships should never be forced. This can cause employees to resent the idea as an obligatory task. Instead, sharing the positive benefits with employees and offering to help connect them with a mentor, when and if they are ready, is most effective. To be prepared, companies should gather information about employee skills, communication styles and career goals. A major key to successful mentorship relationships is connecting employees who communicate well together, can connect on a personal level and are working toward attaining similar goals.
In the end, mentors need to feel that their time is valued in order to achieve a successful mentorship relationship. Those who are mentored must think of the experience as an investment in their growth, rather than a sure path to promotion.
Apprenticeships prepare workers for highly skilled construction jobs. Employers invest time and money in hands-on training, often along with regular classes. The model provides valuable real-world experience and educational instruction for workers who would like to break into an industry that is new to them. The end goal of an apprenticeship is attaining national skills standards and becoming licensed in a particular skilled trade.
There are many benefits to apprenticeship. However, many people often overlook apprenticeships, instead opting to attend college or beginning their career with an entry-level position.
Here are the top three reasons to consider an apprenticeship:
- Learning While Earning
Going off to college or a trade school can be a great educational experience, but it can cost a lot of money that many simply do not have. On top of that, it can be challenging to hold a full-time job in order to pay for expenses while in school.
Apprentices are paid a basic living wage (the national average is $15/hour) to start while also learning and gaining experience every day. As an apprentice’s skills grow, wage increases and promotions often follow.
- Access to Ongoing Mentoring
Apprentices are usually assigned a mentor who is an experienced construction professional. The mentor’s role is to help plan and guide an apprentice’s learning along the way. They provide valuable feedback and support to improve an apprentice’s skills and are always available to answer questions.
- Increased Future Opportunities
Being involved with the day-to-day operations of a business during an apprenticeship, which usually takes two to four years to complete, allows apprentices to make connections with many important people within the industry.
Future employers will also see the hard work that was required to complete the apprenticeship and will surely value that education and work ethic when considering hiring an individual.
In addition, apprentices have the potential to earn college credit toward a degree through their apprenticeship program, should they decide to work towards gaining an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at a later date.
The apprenticeship model prepares workers to compete in today’s economy. The hands-on training keeps apprentices current with innovations and technology. Moreover, the majority of apprentices stay on as full-time employees upon completion of an apprenticeship, allowing for a successful long-term career with a competitive salary without college debt.
The RK Apprenticeship Program helps provide skills for a much needed construction workforce. If you are interested in starting an apprenticeship in construction, click here to learn more about what our program offers.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year was anything but predictable or normal. Predictions for 2021 are cautiously optimistic with a combination of positive and some negative growth for the construction industry, arguably one of the largest sectors worldwide. Although large hotel and higher education projects have declined recently, others have increased, such as healthcare facilities and warehouse construction to meet current needs.
Because of measurements put in place to keep everyone safe, businesses have had to change how they function and communicate both internally and externally, limiting in-person interactions. This has also caused delays in some projects. The need to know what is happening on a job site has become greater than ever. As a result, even in an industry that is otherwise resistant to embracing new technology, construction has seen an increase in adoption of construction-specific technology, from BIM to 3D-printing, facilitating a more versatile way of working.
Without further ado, here are the top eight construction trends predicted for 2021.
- Keeping focused on safety with continued social distancing, protective gear and enhanced protocols for cleanliness
- Increased hiring for seamless execution of current and unexpected future projects
- Implementation of construction-specific equipment and technology to supplement a declining workforce
- Expanded distribution and manufacturing facilities to meet current e-commerce demands
- More complex urban development and infrastructure projects
- Renewed focus on sustainability and renewable energy
- Expanded use of modular construction, increasing quality while also reducing costs and project timelines
- Increased construction cost and pressure on the bottom line, as net profits remain slim
Construction companies must prepare themselves for the uncertain future. Luckily, with many recent innovations already in place, the construction industry has begun to optimize processes in all phases of construction.
Key developments in the construction industry will likely continue to grow and change as we progress through 2021, and we look forward to it.
Digital Builder, 2021 Construction Trends: 20 Insights from Experts, 12.17.20
Construction Dive, 2021 Outlook: 6 Trends that Will Influence Construction this Year, 1.04.21
Chad Fisher Construction, Commercial Construction Trends For 2021, 12.07.20
Method:CRM, Key trends in the construction industry for 2021, accessed 1.19.21
Let’s Build, 5 construction trends you want to look out for in 2021, accessed 1.19.21
Culture is the character of an organization. It’s the values, traditions, behaviors, interactions and attitudes displayed every day. Workplace culture is to an organization what personality is to an individual.
Positive workplace culture attracts talented people, affects happiness, engagement and satisfaction, while also improving performance. A company’s culture is influenced by everything from leadership and management to workplace policies, practices and people.
When looking to work for a company, the primary factors are often the company’s brand value and compensation to employees. While many believe these are enough to attract talent, work culture often plays an even bigger role in retaining good employees. Workplace culture makes some places great to work and other places miserable. It affects relationships between employees and leadership. This can mean the difference between working with each other for the common good of the company or arguing every step of the way.
A company’s culture is so important in bringing out the best in employees even during not-so-great times. Negativity not only crushes creativity and an employee’s will to perform but also stops the development of dedication to a company’s success.
When it comes down to it, humans are relatively simple beings. Working in a positive environment with a good culture affects the way we think and how we act with one another. So, make your workplace a positive one!
RK strives to create a rewarding workplace for employees by hosting several employee-focused events and recognition ceremonies throughout the year, check them out here.
By: RK Steel
When it comes to choosing materials, steel is preferred among designers because it can be used to rapidly build economical, durable and safe structures. However, its downfall is the tendency to react with oxygen and water, causing corrosion.
Applying the correct protective coating to structural steel upon installation can give a steel frame a long life, limit corrosion and reduce ongoing maintenance needs. Older paint systems consisted of five or six coats but, in recent years, have been replaced by fewer coats of thicker film. These paints are composed of three main ingredients: pigments, binders and solvents. Each layer applied has a specific function.
Breaking Down the Layers
Primer is applied directly to clean steel, providing corrosion resistance and good adhesion to the subsequent layers. Intermediate coats help to build up the total film thickness; generally the thicker the coating, the longer the life of the steel. In addition, these layers decrease the permeability of oxygen and water, delaying moisture penetration and improving tensile strength. The finish coat not only gives the paint job the desired glossy appearance but also acts as the first line of defense against condensation, weather and sunlight. An additional stripe coat is often applied directly to welds, fasteners and external corners to bring the thickness in those areas to satisfactory levels.
Paint Application Methods
The method of application used can have a significant impact on the quality and durability of the coating. Airless spray is often used under controlled shop conditions. Brush, rollers and air spray are typically used for on-site application.
Temperature and humidity are the main conditions that affect the final paint job and can be more easily controlled under shop conditions. Air and steel temperature can affect how the solvent evaporates, as well as drying and curing times. Paints should not be applied when there is moisture present or if the humidity level is high. This can affect the overall paint application and drying time.
Metallic Coatings for Structural Steel
Hot-dipped galvanizing is sometimes applied to structural steel surface. It is a process that involves immersing the steel components into a bath of molten zinc, leaving the surface uniformly coated with more durability, abrasion resistance and increased protection. Since this requires a dipping process, there are obvious restrictions on the size of pieces that can be galvanized. However, when it can be used, it is a highly sustainable, producing minimal waste.
The primary quality of steel is its physical strength, or load-bearing capacity, which is generally long-lasting. It is only compromised by corrosion, adversely affecting the steel’s safety. The life of a structure depends on the rate of reaction to its environment, as well as the protective coatings applied. Corrosion protection must be applied from the onset to minimize this process, preventing or greatly reducing the rate of corrosion.
By: RK Steel
The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel, importing approximately 35 million metric tons last year, which accounted for 33% of all steel used in the entire country. Nearly 60% of this total imported steel originates from five countries, 25% of which comes from Canada and Mexico.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration placed tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports coming from various countries to the U.S. The goal of these tariffs is to incentivize U.S. companies to buy steel and aluminum from U.S. producers, with the idea being that this will make the domestic metal industry stronger.
What is a Tariff?
A tariff is a border tax or duty placed on a particular class of imports or exports. Tariffs have been used by governments since the 18th century. Originally, their main purpose was to raise revenue, now they are more often used in order to make foreign products less attractive to consumers; protecting domestic industries from competition.
Steel and Aluminum in the U.S. Construction Industry
Raw steel has many uses in the construction industry, including reinforcing steel in structural concrete, structural steel framing, miscellaneous metal framing and supports. Although the tariffs will affect all these, the single biggest impact will be on structural steel in steel framed buildings.
The cost of structural steel is typically composed of four main elements – raw material, fabrication, delivery and erection at the site. While the cost of these can vary over time and by geographic location, raw steel is typically around 30% of the total cost per ton of structural steel.
What Effect Do They Have?
For those involved in the construction industry, the tariffs raise direct and immediate issues. Contractors are often required to supply and use large quantities of various types of steel products. These tariffs present contractors with considerable uncertainty and financial risk.
These tariffs are a direct charge on imported steel and aluminum products, however, the effect of the tariffs is not limited to imported steel. Volatility is rising in the domestic steel market due to the anticipation of higher cost imported steel, as this will likely lead to an increased demand for domestic steel. The result has been a surge in domestic steel prices.
Challenges Facing Contractors Moving Forward
Contractors main concern will be in relation to price fluctuations between the time they submit a bid to when the contract is awarded. The most likely response to this heightened risk will be an inevitable increase in bid prices to cover the risk of fluctuation. In addition, they may add a clause which limits the amount of time a price can be held.
By: RK Steel
Testing Welding Candidates Before Hiring is Key
Quality and safety are top priorities when it comes to steel fabrication. In order to produce high quality products, it is important that steel fabricators test welding candidates before they are hired. Some companies will even retest certified candidates to ensure they meet company requirements.
The most efficient way to test welders is to have the capabilities to do so in-house. That said, there are few steel shops in Colorado that test in-house. The majority of shops send their tests to an outside source; results can take over a week to get back and can cost around $20,000-30,000 a year.
Companies that test in-house save time and money with certified weld testers that can review four to five tests a week. On average, two out of five candidates pass and move onto the interview process.
Tests and Standards for Welding Candidates
A 6G test consists of a 2” pipe weld. The test takes an hour and is examined with side bends. Some companies perform an industrial radiography test to examine the internal structure and integrity of the weld.
The structural steel tests are the 3G, vertical position, and 4G, overhead position. These tests go through a four-hour process starting with the visual test. During this test, the inspector looks for any discrepancies or holes that would compromise the end product. The coupon then goes through a root bend and cap bend test. If the candidate passes the bend tests, they are certified, and deemed a good candidate for hire.
Inspecting Steel Before It’s Installed on a Project is Required
Even with a team of certified welders fabricating steel projects; on-going special inspection requirements are necessary for all projects. These inspections are done by an outside party unless you are an AISC certified fabricator and erector, which employee certified testers to perform in-house inspections.
RK Steel is a premier shop for end-to-end design, fabrication and erection of structural steel and miscellaneous metals. RK Steel abides by the AWS Structural Steel and ASME certification standards. We pride ourselves on weld testing candidates before interviewing. Contact us to discuss your steel needs.
Wind energy is growing across the United States, with nearly a quarter of the states producing 10 percent or more of their electricity from wind farms. Triple the amount produced just a few years ago.
Over the past decade, Colorado has doubled the number of wind turbines in the state to nearly 1,900. According to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind energy produced 14 percent of Colorado’s electricity in 2015 with more turbines planned for the near future.
Decreasing Emissions, One Blade at a Time
Wind power is a cleaner source of energy than fossil fuels, and because Colorado is one of the country’s leaders in wind energy production, it’s helping the state comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan was established to focus and take action on climate change by reducing carbon pollution. Wind power has grown both nationally and internationally in recent years and has drastically reduced carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, “Wind energy is leading the United States to a low-carbon future. Not only is wind energy reliable and affordable,” said Emily Williams, Senior Policy Analyst, “but it’s providing sustained emissions reductions in the sector that contributes the most to climate change, the power sector.” Each wind turbine avoids approximately 4,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equal to taking 900 cars off the road. Multiply that by 1,900 wind turbines in Colorado alone and it’s like removing 1.75 million cars from our roads.
Technology Advancements Increase Production
Over the last 10 years, innovative technology breakthroughs have increased reliability, efficiency and capacity of wind turbines making them more affordable than ever.
Improved Weather Forecasting: Better forecasting has been a major factor in the increase of wind energy production. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists examine the forecast for energy potential from wind and notify utility companies so that they can adjust the turbines to pull the maximum wind power.
Larger Turbine Blades: To continue the shift to cleaner energy, more wind has to be captured. One solution has been to increase the length of turbine blades by a few additional feet. This small increase could generate more than double the electricity. Taller towers and longer blades could make wind the leading producer of energy worldwide.
Better Gearbox Design: Improvements in gearbox design have reduced their maintenance costs and increased their lifespan, reliability and load sharing between gears.
Transmission Improvements: Energy is collected from the wind farms, typically in rural areas, and transported through large transmission lines to urban areas where the majority of electricity is used. The electricity then travels through smaller distribution lines delivering electricity directly into buildings. New technologies, such as Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) which increases ampacity, High-Temperature Low-Sag Conductors (HTLS) which doubles capacity load and Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) which enhances controllability and increases power transfer, have allowed for increased capacity within the transmission grid.
Job Growth for Colorado and Beyond
The wind energy sector currently employs nearly 90,000 Americans, with 300,000 more jobs expected by 2030. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wind Turbine Service Technician ranks as the fastest-growing occupation over the next decade. Wind energy is continuing to expand in Colorado, which will not only provide hundreds of new jobs to Coloradans but will also save energy customers money.
RK Steel has been assisting in the design, engineering and fabrication for the production and maintenance needs of one of the world’s leading wind turbine companies in Colorado. Some of our major projects in the wind energy sector have included custom-built shipping stands to steady blades during transportation on trucks and railroads, special lifting equipment tools and custom metal parts, such as those used to assemble the hubs of wind turbines. For more information about custom-built products that RK Steel can build for you, contact us at email@example.com.