Steel Fabricator

The steel fabricator makes the component parts for a steel building structure. The work involves:

  • being able to read and interpret Shop Drawings
  • identifying the specifications of grade, dimension, cuts and welds
  • measuring, assembling and generally preparing the steel for delivery to the construction site.

The modern trend is to do as much of this as possible in the fabrication workshop, including any blasting and coating of the steel. Nowadays fabricators use sophisticated computer numerically controlled equipment to achieve cuts and welds that are very precise.

Steel fabricating companies usually have their own dedicated field force of erectors (or riggers as they are sometimes called). They take on-site delivery of structural steel, which may include complex assemblies such as EBFs (Eccentrically Braced Frames) and long-span trusses. Powerful cranes are then used to hoist the steel or the assemblies into their structural position, ready for bolting.

This means that with steel construction, the on-site time is kept to a minimum because all the complicated preparation is done in the fabrication workshop. Typically this will have machine operators cutting and boring cleats. Most workshops have several beamlines, and as the “I” beam is moved past the welding bays, cleats are tacked, exactly as shown in the drawings supplied by the detailers. Next the welders finally fix everything in place, after which it may be blasted and given a protective coating.

This work requires the skill of tradesmen who are not only good with their hands but are also familiar with the application of computer technology. A good fabricator will know how to measure things very accurately, using laser beams to check levels and angles with a high degree of accuracy. On-site there is often a need for quantity surveying. Every day calls for an awareness of sound project management, as well as good safety in the workplace.

“ The steel industry is always interesting, never boring, and a great career choice for young people. The hands-on skills of welding and fabricating can take you a long way.”

Chris Chapman
Managing Director, Chapman Engineering