Reducing Waste in Structural Steel Fabrication with BIM

Philippe Bonneau January 15, 2019 4 min read

During Autodesk University Las Vegas 2018, I taught a class called “Reducing Waste in Structural Steel Fabrication with BIM”. I discussed how prefabricated parts for structural steel can be designed with BIM-based integrated workflows and how this process helps reduce waste in steel fabrication, decreases the risk of costly errors, and increases quality and speed in the construction. If you want to see the full class, you can watch the recording here.

For another view of this content for Revit users, I created videos summarizing the key insights and concepts covered during the class.

Reduce rework through BIM

1) Structural steel design

Revit is a multi-disciplinary BIM platform which offers structural engineers the tools they need to design buildings containing steel elements such as structural columns and structural framing.

This video shows how structural engineers can easily model a steel structure in Revit.

2) Parametric steel connections

Revit provides access to a variety of parametric steel connections, enabling connections to be easily and efficiently added to the structural model.

This video shows how structural engineers can access a comprehensive library of parametric steel connections in Revit.

*You don’t need to install the separate “Steel Connections for Revit” add-in. These connections are available out-of-the-box in Revit 2019.

3) Change synchronization between steel design and detailing

The Advance Steel Extension for Revit enables you to import structural members and steel connections into Advance Steel so that you can continue to work where the designer left off.

This video shows how steel detailers and fabricators can leverage the Revit structural model in Advance Steel to continue detailing the model, and how these changes can be synchronized back into Revit.


Turn a design model into a fabrication detailed model

1) Group steel connections

Create a group of connections in Advance Steel to easily manage changes. When a modification is made, the steel connections in this group will automatically update.

This video shows how you can easily modify steel connections when you have the same connections occurring multiple times in your Advance Steel model.

2) Steel connections libraries

With Advance Steel connections, you can save any joint configuration to the library of each joint. The saved values will then be available both for use in the current project and for future projects.

This video shows how you can save your preferred connection configurations in the connection library for later use.

3) Punch marks

You can create punch marks in the 3D model by using dedicated tools available in automatic connections, such as the base plate connection. These punch marks will help the workshop assemble steel parts more efficiently.

This video shows how the marking information can be displayed in shop drawings and NC files to help you reduce errors and waste in the shop.

4) Library of standard parts

If the fabricator is using the same (standard) parts in multiple projects, it is a good idea to create a library file containing one example of each standard part or assembly. When running the numbering, if a part found in the project matches a part in this library file, it will automatically be assigned the same number it has in the reference file.

This video shows how you can create a library file of standard parts and how the numbering process can automatically assign these part marks to similar parts or assemblies in your Advance Steel project.


Drive and automate the fabrication offsite

1) Shop drawings creation

Steel detailers and/or steel fabricators need to create documents that provide information necessary for shop personnel to fabricate and assemble the steel components.

This video shows how you can leverage ready-to-use templates to automatically create shop drawings with Advance Steel.

2) Drawing update with revision

Advance Steel will inform the user in real-time if documents such as drawings, bill-of-materials, and CNC data require updates, reducing time spent tracking and making the changes to affected drawings.

This video shows how you can automatically update a shop drawing with revision clouds for modifications compared to the previous status of the drawing.

3) Bill-of-material creation

You can use predefined templates to obtain reports, such as a material list summary. This summary will provide details about the steel members which need to be ordered and fabricated, with accurate quantities, weights, and lengths.

This video shows how you can create a bill-of-material of selected elements by using a query and how you can export it to Microsoft Excel.


Contractors are increasingly looking for lean principles which help grow productivity and eliminate waste in all the form it can take for construction companies. With BIM, structural engineers can now deliver more accurate designs to the steel detailer and fabricator who can create accurate deliverables for fabrication with Advance Steel, which helps cut waste in the shop and in the field.

If you want to see the full class that I taught at AU, you can watch the recording here.

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