The process for aligning not only with the right fabrication partner, but considering the variables and hurdles at the outset of your project, are critical steps in ensuring your projects success. When these variables are not considered early on, they can result in significant delays in project completion, and can be costly.
Design Stage Engagement
After 30 years in the business, the key variables have become well defined:
- Transportation Parameters will play a major roll in design criteria. Mapping routes with trusted carriers can indicate the viability of modularization versus traditional knock down panel or “stick” fabrication. Knowing the restrictions and permitting requirements per jurisdiction will establish the primary limitations in regard to the geometry of major components.
- Crane Capacity. Regardless of who is contractually responsible to provide, this will be the second metric to consider in assessing your configuration and its efficiency. Analysis of freight cost versus crane fees could provide that elusive competitive edge over the rest of the field.
- Identify Value Adds. The fewer sub-contractors at site the better. Solutions are easily incorporated at the Fabrication Facilities’ controlled environment. Auxiliary steel, linings, insulation, cladding and coatings are examples. Add to this, the labor cost advantage of shop rates and you have a winning combination.Start with the worst-case scenario and work backwards. Given the never-before-seen market conditions of recent months, everyone should take a pessimistic stance. A thorough and rigorous approach to strategic sourcing and supply chain optimization has never been more important. Payoff from up front resource investments in the procurement process is essentially guaranteed.
Unprecedented surcharges, tariffs, premiums, and trade shortages are plaguing the industry. Newcomers no longer have the ease of entry or access they once had. Long established fabricators are essentially in a position of privilege. They need to appreciate and strive to be worthy of this status.
Critical review guideposts once all parties have a vested interest:
- Connection Design and Erectability. Innovation doesn’t always have its place in a project but drawing on common sense and experience does. The Client, Fabricator and Erector should all come to the table to share best practices. Over welding, needlessly intricate connections and excessive crane usage can be avoided when al parties contribute meaningfully to the process. Faster Installation ensures satisfied clients, with positive ripple effects touching all parties.
- Quality Measures. Aim to have any Quality Controlled and Non-Destructive tested sections completed at the Fabrication level to the maximum extent possible. Coordination and implementation of such can eliminate the need for site access passes, orientations, and involvement of yet another sub-contractor.A project schedule is redundant and overwhelming when crudely generated as a compilation of timelines from four or more separate parties. It’s to no one’s advantage to limit the lines of communications and ignore the particularities of everyone’s constraints, requirements and objectives. From Civil works to Commissioning, everyone needs to be on the same page. We believe in integrated and progressive installation instead of waiting for each discipline to conclude their scope. Overlapping of tasks can be a deadline’s best friend.
- Budget Improvements. Whether a budget is provided or not; Fabricators should give insights on where to trim costs. Material grade and member substitutions are large openings where suppliers should share their knowledge of what is more affordable and commercially available in this climate.
Delegate to the Fullest Extent
Fabricators should enable Clients to focus on the big picture.
- 100% Trial Assembly at the Shop. Minimize and possibly eliminate large-scale rework and back-charges. Design clashes, engineering oversights and even the occasional misfabrication can be corrected and addressed in a controlled environment at a much lesser cost than if discovered in the field.
- Peace of Mind. Documented and photographed evidence of the entire trial assembly process needs to be shared with the client. This should be seen as an integral part of the service provided by a reputable Fabricator. The installation crews are then left with no excuse for schedule delays and Clients know they’re getting a guaranteed to fit Product.Let the Fabricator coordinate, load and track your deliveries. There are more pressing issues for clients than customs paperwork and lane tracking. Tariffs, surcharges and Customs can all be carried by the Fabricator as part of responsibilities established at the early engagement phase.
Establishing a Relationship
Trust; the almighty intangible.
- Don’t count out the perceived “little guy”. Private and Family-owned corporations deemed “small businesses” are often much simpler to work with. Corporate hierarchies come with lots of red tape and segregated departments. It is better to have one dedicated Project Manager as the point of contact to deal within than exchanging information with multiple departments.
- Location may not matter. With enough volume; the location of fabrication and its related freight costs can be off set by favorable labor rates. The bottom line will tell the tale.
- More than a Warranty. Fabricators should always accumulate lessons learned and valuable feedback from their clients. Essentially “How could we do this better next time?” If these questions aren’t being asked, it shows a one and done mentality where no one really wins. A proper supplier-client relationship will foster an environment where both parties grow together.
From concept to completion, Coastal Metals Ltd. provides a full range of services that are designed to aid clients in achieving their fabrication objectives. CML’s experience and resources maintain the ability to work from customer furnished ideas, design drawings or from in house designs and plans through consultation with the client.
For questions on the article or to learn more about our services, visit coastalmetals.ca/contact_us.php