Today was a BIMForum first. We added an optional day to the conference, went off-site with 60 attendees and saw a few of the workflows that we've been discussing for the past few year. The first that my group visited was Schuff Steel's 1/2 mile long fabrication facility.
Because there was so much to see on the "shop floor", we didn't spend a lot of time discussing Schuff's model requirements and up front process. However, Chris Fischer explained that their detail group models in Tekla, no matter the data source (which still ranges from pencil drawings to Revit models).
The data in Schuff's Tekla models feeds into their full range of CNC machines - everything from the plasma cutters to the robotic welder. CNC is so much more efficient than traditional fabrication methods that Schuff puts in additional effort to use it - there is a 50" length requirement for CNC, so when Schuff has to fabricate smaller pieces they actually stitch them together to leverage the efficiency.
Schuff has built automated processes into their workflow to gain efficiencies and avoid downtime - a sensor is built into the feeder wire. When the spool runs low, an email is sent to the shop manager and the supplier, so that it is replaced before the welding machine runs out.
We ended the tour with an opportunity to really visualize the connection between the model and the fabrication process:
Next stop: Tri-City Mechanical