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  • Writer's pictureIr Lee Mei Ling, Pauline


The steel-framed building derives most of its competitive advantage from the virtues of prefabricated components, which can be assembled speedily at site.

Unlike concreting, which is usually a wet process conducted at site, steel is produced and subsequently fabricated within a controlled environment. This ensures high quality of construction.

Offsite manufacturing allows improved precision and enhanced speed of construction at site.

The efficiency of fabrication and erection in structural steelwork dictates the success of any project involving steel-intensive construction.

Good facilities with skilled workers are required to achieve this efficiency.

Normally, the fabrication and erection of structural steelwork has been out of the purview of the structural designer. Nevertheless, in the future emerging situation, the entire steel chain, i.e., the producer, client, designer, fabricator, and contractor should be able to interact with each other and improve their efficiency and productivity for the success of the project involving structural steelwork.

Hence it becomes imperative that structural designers also must acquaint themselves with all the aspects of the structural steel work including the fabrication and erection of steel structures.


Structural fabrication refers to the cutting, bending, and assembling of steel to create different products. During structural steel fabrication, several pieces of steel are combined together to form different structures of predefined sizes and shapes intended for assembly into buildings, industrial equipment, tools, and various other final products.

Structural steel fabrication can be carried out in shop or at the construction site.

Fabrication of steelwork carried out in shops is precise and of assured quality, whereas field fabrication is comparatively of inferior in quality.

Construction site fabrication is still common even in large projects due to inexpensive field labour, high cost of transportation, difficulty in the transportation of large members, higher excise duty on products from shop.

Beneficial taxation for site work and regulatory requirements such as IBS score is a major financial incentive for site fabrication.

The methods followed in site fabrication are similar but the level of sophistication of equipment at site and environmental control would be usually less. The skill of personnel at site also tends to be inferior and hence the quality of finished product tends to be relatively inferior.

However, shop fabrication is efficient in terms of cost, time, and quality.

Structural steel passes through various operations during the course of its fabrication.

Generally, the sequence of activities in fabricating shops is as follows:

1. Surface cleaning

2. Cutting and machining

3. Punching and drilling

4. Straightening, bending, and rolling

5. Fitting and reaming

6. Fastening (bolting, riveting, and welding)

7. Finishing

8. Quality control

9. Surface treatment

10. Transportation

The sequence and importance of shop operations will vary depending on the type of fabrication required.

Structural steel fabrication is a multifaceted process that requires specialized knowledge, skills, and resources to complete successfully. Years or even decades are required to establish a competent production facility.

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