Steel in the News
AGA Releases Galvanized Steel Inspection App
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 20, 2014 at 5:42 PM.
The American Galvanizers Association (AGA) has released a comprehensive app to aid in the inspection of hot-dip galvanized steel.
The Inspection of Hot-Dip Galvanized Steel app is a visual guide to identifying various surface conditions present after hot-dip galvanizing. “The advantage of a picture-based app is it provides inspectors, architects and engineers who may be unfamiliar with the specific outcomes of the galvanizing process with a visual example of a surface condition similar to one they are viewing for their particular project,” said AGA executive director Philip Rahrig.
Each image in the app is accompanied by text identifying the industry term for the surface appearance and detailing how and why it occurs, and whether or not it is accepted according to the specification. “Although approximately 3.5 million tons of structural shapes, plate, fasteners and tubing are hot-dip galvanized each year in the U.S. and Canada, the design of products and the chemistry of steel being galvanized yields an array of results which are often misinterpreted,” Rahrig said. “This app provides an immediate understanding of surface conditions, which makes it handy when there is an inspection question.”
In addition to the visual interpretation of surface conditions, the app also contains critical specification (ASTM, ISO, AASHTO) information to assess compliance with coating thickness requirements, as well as how to conduct repairs.
The app is available for purchase for $4.99 in both the Apple and Google Play stores; visit galvanizeit.org/mobile for the download links.
Steel Shots: Crown Jewel
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 17, 2014 at 6:01 PM.
The roof structure of Arlington, Va.’s new office tower at 1812 N. Moore St. is a custom-built ornamental steel structure featuring two tension rings at the top. One is oval-shaped, creating an interesting illusion. Photo: AISC
The signature top of Arlington, Va.’s new 35-story, 580,000-sq.-ft office tower at 1812 N. Moore St. is a decorative structural steel “crown.”
The roof structure — engineered, fabricated and installed by American Iron Works, Inc. (an AISC member and AISC Certified fabricator/Advanced Certified erector) — was fabricated over the course of about seven months and a team of ironworkers assembled the structure in just four nights.
AIW expanded their Maryland shop to allow for full fit-up of the structure. They embedded the steel columns at the upper floors, welded base plates at the top and then let the pinned anchors fall into place before welding. This complicated structure was required to be shipped in certain parts, which had to be delivered upside down, and all construction was required to take place at night.
The project recently won a 2014 WBC Craftsmanship Award for Structural Steel Framing by the Washington Building Congress.
You can view additional photos of the project on AIW’s website (www.americanironworks.com).
LeJeune Named Steel Fabricator for New Vikings Stadium
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 16, 2014 at 5:44 PM.
Minneapolis-based LeJeune Steel Co. (an AISC member/AISC Certified fabricator) has been named the steel fabricator for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, which will use nearly 19,000 tons of structural steel.
LeJeune is searching for welders as it prepares to begin fabricating steel for the project, according to a recent article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. The company has started to draw plans for the project and will fabricate the steel through mid-2015.
To learn more about the new stadium, visit www.vikings.com/stadium.
(Rendering courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)
Bungale Taranath, Tall Buildings Expert, Passes Away
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 16, 2014 at 10:53 AM.
Bungale S. Taranath, S.E., P.E., Ph.D., a structural engineer known for his expertise on tall buildings, passed away peacefully on December 31, 2013 at his residence in Chino Hills, Calif. His engineering career spanned over five decades and three continents. In addition to being a structural engineer on numerous projects throughout the U.S., his contributions as an engineering textbook author are enormous.
Born and raised in India, he received his early engineering education at the National Institute of Engineering Mysore. Following work in the construction industry in India and England, he attended the University of Southampton in the UK and obtained his doctorate degree in structural engineering. He then moved to the U.S. and worked for more than 40 years designing buildings and teaching young engineers the art of structural engineering. His five books on the design of tall buildings are a testament to his ability to simplify design and analysis, both of which have too often been made overly complicated and cumbersome in today’s design offices.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Saroja; son, Abhiman and his wife, Kristin; daughter, Anupama and her husband, Rajesh; and four grandchildren.
AISC Revives ‘Steel Profiles’ Podcast Series
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM.
Gain inspiration in the New Year from captivating discussions with leading experts in the structural steel industry! AISC’s “Steel Profiles” podcast series returns after a year hiatus and provides audio access to valuable insights from leading steel design and construction professionals. The latest episode features a 30-minute interview with “Mr. Steel” himself, Robert (Bob) Disque, P.E. (pictured left), AISC alumni emeritus and former chief engineer. Play or download the podcast free of charge at www.aisc.org/podcasts (podcasts are also available for free on iTunes and RSS).
“I am very excited that the Steel Profiles podcast series is coming back from hiatus!” said Margaret Matthew, Steel Profiles host and AISC senior engineer. “I have many more fascinating people that I’m looking forward to interviewing. The podcast episodes are great listening and offer insight into the lives of these giants in our industry.”
At your convenience you can listen to these interviews with your favorite steel experts and learn interesting and useful tidbits that you likely won’t hear anywhere else. For example, in his interview Disque shares personal experiences from his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II and what led him into civil engineering; his two-decade tenure as AISC’s chief engineer and what prompted him to launch AISC’s lecture series in steel design; his transition to teaching at the University of Maine before returning to AISC until his retirement; and his one piece of advice for structural engineers starting out in the field.
All of AISC’s 23 Steel Profiles podcast episodes are available for online streaming and downloading at www.aisc.org/podcasts. The podcast recordings can be downloaded onto any media player and will automatically play on the user’s default audio player, and they can be transferred onto any iPod or MP3 player. Those who have an iTunes (www.itunes.com) account can download the podcast recordings (search “AISC Steel Profiles”) and also have the option to subscribe to the series to have the podcast recordings automatically downloaded to their iTunes library free of charge.
Steel Profiles podcasts previously aired monthly and are returning on a limited basis throughout the year with new interview subjects. The next episode will feature an interview with Rafael Sabelli, S.E., principal and director of seismic design at Walter P Moore and a 2013 recipient of AISC’s Special Achievement Award for his contributions to the literature on seismic design of steel and composite structures.
Additional information on all AISC Steel Profiles episodes can be found at www.aisc.org/podcasts.
New Cloud-Based Equipment Management Software
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 14, 2014 at 3:48 PM.
Construction software provider Dexter + Chaney has released an equipment management solution, Spectrum Equipment Management, geared towards preventive maintenance and equipment tracking, including for heavy and smaller equipment and tools applicable to ironworking and steel erection, as well as a mobile app. The new software works seamlessly with the company’s Spectrum Construction Software, which works completely in the cloud, requiring no software download or specific hardware devices.
“Typical investment in construction equipment can be well into the seven-figure range, so saving just a percent or two through better fleet management can result in a significant return on that investment, ” said John Chaney, Dexter + Chaney president.
The latest updates to the company’s equipment management offerings also include an app that can be downloaded for use on Apple and Android mobile devices. The app allows field staff to enter equipment information from the job site and synchronizes automatically with Spectrum Equipment Management.
To learn more, visit www.dexterchaney.com.
Steel Shots: La Salle St. Bridge Turns 85
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 13, 2014 at 11:15 AM.
Completed in December of 1928, Chicago’s La Salle Street Bridge (or Marshall Suloway Bridge) is a single-deck, double-leaf trunnion bascule bridge that spans the main stem of the Chicago River, connecting the city’s Near North Side with the “Loop” area. In the warmer months, the bridge is raised to allow boats to pass. (Click on the above photo for another view of the bridge.) Photos: Courtesy of Jim Phillips
Chicago’s La Salle Street bridge was opened to much fanfare 85 years ago on December 20, 1928. According to a Chicago Daily Tribune story at the time, festivities included a parade from downtown’s Grant Park to the bridge and a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Mayor William Hale Thompson with about 1,000 spectators in attendance.
La Salle Street was considered to be an important piece of the solution to Chicago’s downtown traffic flow problems in the early 1900’s. Feasibility studies for a bridge began around 1914. The Chicago Plan Commission began studies to widen La Salle Street from Washington Street to Lincoln Park in 1920, and bridge construction began in late 1924.
The bridgehouse plaque (shown at left) credits Donald Becker as the engineer of bridge design. The consulting architectural firm for the Chicago Plan Commission — Bennett, Parsons, and Frost — was responsible for the design of the bridge houses. The substructure was built by Central Dredging Company while the bridge superstructure was the responsibility of Strobel Steel Construction Company. Kelly-Atkinson Construction Company built the bridge houses.
This bridge makes quite a statement, with its sweeping pony trusses and four Beaux Arts style bridge houses. During this era of movable bridges, only two houses were functionally necessary (one for each leaf). The remaining houses are solely ornamental. Four house bridges were reserved for “gateway” locations in the city, and the La Salle Street bridge is the gateway into the financial district.
The current bridge is the second river crossing at its location. A roadway tunnel with pedestrian sidewalks opened there in July of 1871. This tunnel provided an important escape route during the Great Fire in early October of that year. The original tunnel fell into disuse and was replaced in 1912 by a streetcar tunnel. The Dearborn Street subway (now the CTA Blue Line) cut through the La Salle Street tunnel in the early 1940s. The last vestige of the tunnel crossing, the north portal, was removed in the mid-1950s.
As with a number of other downtown Chicago bridges, this bridge is named in honor of an important Chicagoan. In 1999, this bridge was christened the Marshall Suloway Bridge. Suloway, a Chicago native educated at IIT, started his civil engineering career in 1950 with the Illinois Highway Department. He joined the Chicago Department of Public Works in 1964, serving as Chief Engineering beginning in 1967. In 1974, he was appointed Acting Commissioner of Public Works. He was selected as the Man of the Year in 1976 by the American Public Works Association and served as Commissioner of Public Works until 1979. Suloway passed away in 2012.
For more information about the LaSalle Street Bridge, contact Jim Phillips (who provided this commentary) at 312.540.0696, or visit his www.chicagoloopbridges.com website, which features multimedia pages for all of the Chicago Loop bridges.
2014 Forecast: More Projects to Bid On, Spending to Rise By 10%
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 9, 2014 at 5:40 PM.
The new year is bringing positive news for contractors, with more projects to bid on in 2014 than the past five years and total construction spending expected to rise by 10% despite a slight decline in public construction, according to Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). However, while materials costs “should remain tame,” skilled labor availability will become an increasing concern.
The new year opened with an upbeat report on construction spending from the Census Bureau last week. The agency reported that spending in November was the highest since March 2009 at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (a statistical technique to remove distortions due to normal weather or monthly variations). For the first 11 months of 2013 combined, year-to-date spending rose 5% from the same months in 2012.
But the pickup was very unevenly distributed. Private residential spending soared 18% year-to-date, powered by a 45% leap in multi-family construction, a 28% jump in single-family homes and a 2% uptick in improvements (additions and major renovations to both types). Private nonresidential construction was unchanged, on balance. Public construction slipped 3%, dragged down by an 8% contraction in public educational spending, which more than offset a tiny rise in highway and street construction. These two segments account for more than half of public construction.
The overall flatness of private nonresidential construction masked extreme differences in some segments. The top performer through the first 11 months was lodging construction, which climbed 26% as hoteliers modernized older properties and began putting up new big-city hotels and extended-stay properties in areas receiving an influx of oil and gas-related workers. At the other end of the spectrum were communications construction, down 13%, and power, down 11%. However, the apparent plunge in power construction was driven by a surge in construction of wind facilities in late 2012 to beat a year-end deadline to qualify for the wind production tax credit. In 2013, the credit applied to projects begun by year end, so there was no comparable spike in spending.
For 2014, the two biggest private nonresidential segments—power and manufacturing—should both post double-digit increases, along with lodging and warehouse construction. Office and retail construction should continue to make modest gains, although they will remain far below pre-recession levels. But private hospital and educational construction will remain in the doldrums, said Simonson.
Overall, private nonresidential construction should increase 5% to 10%. Private residential construction will grow another 10% due to continued double-digit growth in apartment construction, although single-family homebuilding will probably stall later in the year. Public construction will slip again, though perhaps not as much as the 3% drop in 2013. Adding up the pieces, total construction spending will rise close to 10%, a significant improvement over last year’s 5% growth.
As for prices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported last month that its producer price indexes (PPIs) for new nonresidential building construction rose 3% to 4% between November 2012 and November 2013. These indexes measure what contractors say they would charge to construct industrial, warehouse, school, office and healthcare buildings. While moderate, those increases are larger than contractors had reported for several years and also are larger than the PPIs for materials used in construction (including items consumed by contractors, such as diesel fuel). The materials index rose just 1% over the last 12 months.
Materials costs should remain tame in 2014. Diesel prices may actually fall slightly. Steel prices have begun to climb, after slumping 8% in 2012 and finishing 2013 roughly unchanged. However, there should not be large spikes like those in 2004-2008. Similarly, copper and concrete prices may rise modestly, and gypsum prices are likely to start the year higher. But there should be ample supplies of all products, and by December, the materials price index is not likely to increase more than 3% from the December 2012 level.
Labor costs and, especially skilled labor availability, will be bigger worries. The unemployment rate for construction workers tumbled from 18.8% (not seasonally adjusted) in November 2010 to 8.6% in November 2013 as 890,000 former employees left the ranks of the unemployed. Unfortunately for contractors, the industry added only 327,000 employees in that span. That means most of those experienced workers left the industry, at least for now.
To get them back, contractors will likely have to spend more on wages, benefits and bonuses, explained Simonson. Firms that can’t find the additional workers they need will increase their payment of overtime wages. As a result, employers’ costs for employee compensation, BLS’s overall measure of wages, salaries, benefits and required payments such as unemployment and workers’ compensation, will probably go up 3% to 4% in 2014, compared with a 2.1% rise from the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2013. Even then, more contractors will likely experience difficulty finding skilled craft workers, supervisors and estimators.
Welding Standards Conference Coming to Miami Jan. 26-28
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 8, 2014 at 5:52 PM.
The American Welding Society (AWS) and Germany’s Gesellschaft fur Schweisstechnik International (GSI) have partnered to deliver a conference on U.S. and European welding standards, which will be held at the AWS Headquarters in Miami, January 26-28.
This conference is geared toward engineers, inspectors, supervisors and quality control personnel who are familiar with one set of standards and need to know about the other. Among the topics to be discussed are welding standards covering structural fabrication, pressure vessels, railway vehicles and heavy machinery.
ISO 3834, which addresses the importance of the qualification of personnel involved in making human decisions that affect how welding is done, will also be covered in depth as will the various EU Directives that affect welding.
The format of the conference includes an expert presentation on the U.S. standards followed by an expert presentation on the comparable European standards for each topic. There will be open discussion allotted for each topic period.
To learn more, view the conference program or register, visit www.aws.org/conferences/2014weldstandard
Construction Workers Brave Frigid Temps
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 7, 2014 at 6:17 PM.
While many of us were huddled inside this past week due to the nationwide deep freeze, construction crews remained hard at work at Buffalo, N.Y.’s HarborCenter, where workers hoisted a 25.5-ton ice plant onto the sixth floor of the steel-framed structure.
Now that the ice plant is in place for the 19-story mixed-use hockey and entertainment facility, set to open this fall when it becomes the home of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres (part of the Ontario Junior Hockey League) and recently acquired Buffalo Regals youth hockey organization, workers will start erecting the structural steel that will eventually house two rinks, 11 locker rooms, a training facility and more, according to a WKBW news story.
Watch the video at www.wkbw.com to see the HarborCenter construction crews at work.