Detailing is a critical process in any manufacturing activity, and is the vital link that connects design Engineers, Architects, Fabricators and Installation Contractors. Engineering and detailing have a substantial potential to negatively affect the overall success of a project if not executed to the correct standard or by a well-trained and experienced detailing team.


Once the layout of a structure has been finalised and it has been ensured that it mechanically and practically achieves the design intent, the structural design of the individual elements of the structure is done. The designed structure is then passed onto the Detailer. It is commonly the responsibility of the Detailer to apply standard connections to the designed elements, with the Engineer focusing on engineered connections.

This is where the work of the detailer, and what is typically thought of as “detailing” initially takes place.

The detailer serves as a translator, turning the engineer’s design into workable fabrication drawings. The focus is very much on practical solutions to connections and members as the detailer is producing drawings which will direct the artisans on the workshop floor when manufacturing each element of the structure. These fabrication drawings contain all the information required to fabricate steelwork that is accurate and practical to manufacture while ensuring the Engineers requirements are maintained.

Steel detailing also helps resolve engineering design conflicts, particularly in critical areas such as connections and joints, supporting structures and facades, as well as mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire service interfaces with the structure.

Accuracy and collaboration

Accuracy is a crucial factor in the detailing process; potential issues with fabrication and installation are caught and addressed early on thus preventing unnecessary rework, extended timeframes, and additional labour on site.

Steel detailing software such as Tekla Structures, in conjunction with contractors like VIVA, allow for 2D drawings & engineering sketches to be easily translated into a 3D model that can be used as a data centre for the rest of the project, thereby significantly reducing time and costs.

Fabrication and erection

Once the Engineer approves and releases the detailer’s workshop drawings, manufacturing begins. Fabrication companies use the data from the detail drawings and 3D model to generate CNC files for their modern automated equipment. Hard copies of detail drawings, or more recently, soft copies on tablets, are used by the artisan to assemble the various components to make up the final steel assembly. The drawings are further used for the fabrication inspection and release process, ensuring all is manufactured to the Engineers intent

Lastly, the on-site installation contractor receives the site installation drawings that are created by the detailer for the final installation of the structure on site. These drawings direct the site crew how to assemble piece small items into the overall structure.

Choosing the right Steel Detailing Company is crucial

Accurately translating design drawings into shop drawings is far more complex than a push of a button or a click of a mouse!

The detailer is the critical link between the Engineer, the Fabricator and the on-site installation team. The detailers output is the direct input into the efficient automated cutting and drilling processes. Consider the number of work streams which are directly dependant on the output from the detailer. That’s why it’s important to have the right team of experts with the appropriate technical expertise, who understand the design intent and can bring the project concept to life. Steel detailers must be able to interpret design drawings and integrate them into a 3D model, identifying and rectifying issues, to produce highly accurate 3D models that facilitate superior quality fabrication.

Design drawings, shop drawings and installation drawings all play an essential role in the lifecycle of steelwork on a project —whether it is for a bridge, stadium, tank, or new mine.

Design drawings enable an Architect or Engineer to communicate their vision for a project.

Shop drawings deliver the in-depth instructions and specifications required by a fabricator and their modern automated equipment and their skilled artisans to manufacture structurally sound, millimetre-perfect steelwork.

Installation drawings are used to guide the steel installer on the construction site as to where and how to install the fabricated steel members.

Choosing the wrong detailer has to potential to cost you dearly in time and money. So before awarding your next contract, it would be worth your while to confirm the training and experience of the detailing team working on your structure.

The Viva Way

As a fundamental element of the turnkey design to installation process, detailing is a core competency of Viva Engineering.

Viva Engineering’s detailing team has both the theoretical knowledge and practical experience to ensure the most cost-effective and innovative solutions for mining, industrial, power, and architectural projects.


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