How Steel Buildings Are Manufactured
Have you ever wondered how steel buildings are manufactured? The process is both complicated and precise. The manufacture of a steel building is an awesome combination of engineering, draftsmanship, ingenuity, teamwork, knowhow and metal building manufacturing expertise. Each building receives the utmost care and attention throughout the manufacturing process, manufactured by experienced craftsmen and watched over by a dedicated staff of professionals from start to finish. Precision engineering, machinery and components plus exceptional quality control yield a precision high quality manufactured product.
Once a customer has purchased a pre-engineered steel building or metal building system, their sales person, who performs multiple functions of building consultant, building designer, technician and estimator, forwards the purchaser’s order to the steel building factory. In the top metal building factories, the factory itself fabricates all required building components in house. That way, all components are compatible and go together easily on the job site with no surprises and no waiting for components to arrive from different suppliers.
At the steel building factory, the order entry department oversees the order from start to finish, from the time the order is received until the steel building is shipped. Steel building factory staff verifies all design codes, snow and wind loads and seismic information to make sure that everything complies with the purchaser’s contract and enters the order into scheduling software to ensure that the buildings manufacture is efficiently managed.
Pre-engineered steel buildings engineers are responsible for optimization of the steel building, each engineer certified by the state where the building will be constructed. Building details including snow and wind loads and seismic information is input into an advanced metal building software program that generates engineered shop drawings for the framing of the building as well as other drawings needed for the buildings manufacture and construction.
The metal building factory’s pre-engineered steel building engineers review the building drawings and check the purchase order again for accuracy. Permit drawings are generated that can be used to help secure permits to erect the building.
Actual building production begins with the input of building specifications into CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinery, a process that involves the use of computers to control machines programmed withlanguage (G-code). The CNC machinery controls all machine features including feeds and speeds.
Components of steel buildings, such as I-beams, gutters and down spouts, sidewalls and end wall panels, and even standing seam roofs are systematically manufactured in designated areas called “lines” throughout the metal building factory. Each manufacturing line completes a specific function, automated by use of conveyors that move the steel sheeting, I-beams and fabricated metal components from station to station. Since each steel building is manufactured to order, building components are produced as required to fulfill each steel buildings exact specifications.
The manufacture of steel buildings rafters and columns begins with the Plasma Table. The Plasma Table cuts the web, the center of the rafter or column (like the center of the letter “H”). The web moves to a holding station waiting to move by automated conveyor to the station where the web will be tack-welded to the flange.
The flange machine cuts flanges into specified lengths determined by the pre-engineered buildings specifications from steel bar stock. After cutting, the flanges move to a holding station waiting to move by automated conveyor to the station where the flanges will be tack-welded to the web prior to going through the automatic welding machine.
Certified welders tack-weld flanges and webs in place to form rafters and columns. The tacked rafters and columns move by conveyor to the PHI machine. At the PHI machine, an automatic welding process fuses the web and flange materials, permanently welding the flanges to the web. A Welding Inspector checks all welds to ensure that strict AISC standards are met.
Roof and sidewall panels are fabricated from steel sheeting. Large coils of metal sheeting are placed in a machine called an “uncoiler” which passes the sheeting through another machine called a “straightener” that straightens the sheet. The straightened sheet is die cut and passes through a roll former to give the straightened sheet the shape of roof or sidewall sheeting. As with all machinery in the steel building factory, computers are feeding information to the metal corrugation machine giving it the exact specifications for each building.
Sophisticated machinery on the Trim Line automates the process by which custom trim is formed and ensures exact bends and perfect angles. Starting with a coil of steel mounted on an uncoiler, the steel passes through a straightener to a series of ten roll formers that form the shape of each trim and make all trim components: rake trim, corner trim, jamb trim, head trim, base trim, eave trim, rake angle, base angle, gutter straps, downspouts and gutters.
Out in the yard the Staging Department gathers all the steel building components and carefully loads them onto trucks to deliver the building to the job site. Special attention is given to the Bill of Materials ensuring that every order is complete and accurate. The Traffic Office handles the shipment of each building, scheduling trucks and coordinating buildings to arrive at the job site on time where the erection crew is waiting for delivery.