NASCC 2017

Night School


Engineers, Fabricators Turn To EDI To Cut Project Costs & Time [INACTIVE]

August 06, 2001 From AISC, Inc.

A new tool from the steel industry has the potential to cut weeks off a typical project's design and construction time. Software programmers are beginning to incorporate the CIMsteel Integration Standard, or CIS/2 for short, into design, detailing and fabrication packages.

CIS/2 is a set of standards that allows a wide variety of design and construction software to seamlessly communicate with each other. CIS/2, which is endorsed by AISC, goes far beyond the current methodology of using .dxf or other CAD formats to transfer information. Instead, software translators incorporating CIS/2 will also include such information as load information, end member reactions, and connection types. Utilization of the CIS/2 protocols will also allow a single model to be carried through the entire project-from design to detailing to fabrication and erection. "AISC has endorsed the CIS/2 protocol and is working closely with software developers to facilitate the development and implementation of translators into their software," explained Lou Gurthet, president of AISC.

Steel has always been advantageous on fast-track projects because of its fast erection time. The drawback, however, was the typical four-to-six-week lead time on obtaining steel. Because of the single model approach using CIS/2, though, fabricators can develop fast and accurate material take-offs to get steel orders in earlier.

This same single model approach also is beneficial once a project is underway. It's not uncommon for a general contractor to consider substantial changes after work has already begun-but to also want to know the time and cost impact of these changes before approving them. Because the CIS/2 protocols allow a single model to be carried through the entire project, it is now a quick process to modify the model and evaluate the impact of the proposed change.

"Standardizing and using EDI will streamline existing work processes, allowing owners to receive more value for their construction dollar," said Mark Holland, P.E., Chief Engineer with Paxton & Vierling Steel Co. in Omaha and Co-Chairman of the AISC EDI Review Team.

Currently, many of the leading software vendors are working to incorporate CIS/2. Working translators are now available from early adopters Ram International (RAM Steel), Design Data (SDS/2), Tekla (XSteel), Fabtrol, and CSC (3D+). In addition, beta translators are expected soon from Intergraph (Frameworks), CSI (SAP 2000 and ETABS), GTStrudl, and Bentley (Triforma).

Already, use of the beta translators have paid dividends for such companies as AISC-member SteelFab, Inc. "We are working on a bid in which we received a model from RAM," explained Susan Navy, a detailing team leader. "[The CIS/2 translators] saved approximately four days in estimating the material cost by putting the model in Xsteel and then [importing] into

Mark Mosher, managing partner of both AISC member AmFab Inc. and dtls Inc., reports even greater success. "[EDI] takes several individually good tools and makes them even better," Mosher explains. The CIS/2 protocol is more encompassing than previous translators for the steel industry and therefore allows information to be passed from the design and analysis phase all the way through to detailing, fabrication and the production of a bill of materials.

Earlier this year, Mosher selected an 85,000 sq. ft., braced steel frame building as a trial project. The design and analysis of the new Casino of the Sun in Tucson was completed-using RAM International's RAM Steel V7 software-on March 7, 2001, with erection beginning on March 22, 2001. Using CIS/2 translators, Mosher imported the model into Design Data's SDS/2 V6.2 detailing software package and was able to detail and finish the first sequence (50%) of fabrication in just 19 days. The CIS/2 translators eliminated the need to re-input data into SDS/2 from paper drawings. In fact, paper drawings were generated only for column details. All of the information remained in electronic format and was translated directly between the two software packages.

Without EDI, Mosher estimates it would have taken an additional four weeks to complete. In addition, EDI helped reduce detailing errors by providing an accurate transfer of member sizes and locations. In turn, the hours normally required for detailing and checking for errors was greatly reduced. Cost savings continued throughout the project since erection could begin sooner and occupancy could occur earlier. AmFab was the design-build fabricator on the project and dtls was the detailing firm. Structural engineer on the project was Chavez/Grieves Consulting Engineers in Albuquerque.

"AISC encourages all designers, detailers and fabricators to contact the vendors of their software to inquire when translators will be available," explained Jim Todd, Director of Information Technology at AISC. "The time-savings promised by the incorporation of the CIS/2 protocols makes it critical that all vendors make these translators available as soon as possible. And it's vital that software vendors understand this urgency and receive requests from users for these features."

For more information on CIS/2, visit AISC's website at www.aisc.org/edi.html
or contact software vendors directly at:

CSC (UK) Ltd. www.cscworld.com

FabTrol www.fabtrol.com

Ram International www.ramint.com

Design Data www.sds2.com

Tekla www.xsteel.com


For more information contact:

Scott Melnick
VP of Communications
(312) 670-8314
[email protected]


American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

130 East Randolph St. Suite 2000
Chicago IL 60601
Phone: 312.670.2400
Fax: 312.626.2402