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RE: Steel Fab Shop Inspections

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There are three primary questions, and I will pepper in my comments:

1.  What, specifically, is the owner wanting you to do?
Be careful here.  If it is a domestic shop, does the owner want you to
evaluate the shop's QA QC program.  Or in the absence of a program are you
to establish one.  Are you buying into some potential liability?  Is shop
safety an issue?  Is the schedule an issue?

2.  What is your level of competence in evaluating a steel fabricator?
If you have little or no experience in this area.  Subcontract to someone
who has.  If you want to learn, go with him.  Every shop is different.
Their operations and methods vary widely.  That is not to say one is good
and one is bad, but you need to know how to evaluate the shop practices.

3.  Is the shop certified by AISC or other authority?
It is much easier if they are certified.  Get the certification requirements
and see how they are complying.  Who is checking the welds?  Is everyone up
to date on the AWS certs?  Where are the mill test reports filed?  How are
the mill test reports tracked relative to the fabricated material?  Is stick
or wire electrode being used?  Check storage and proper use of electrodes.
What equipment requires calibration?  How is the calibration monitored?  Is
there a training program?  Are there bolts fully tensioned in the shop?  How
is the bolt installation inspected?  Is there a Skidmore in the shop?  If
the field bolts are supplied by the fabricator, check the certs. and
consider independent verification.

I don't think that I would look for short cuts the fabricator would be
making.  I guess the statement implies that there is some diminished quality
that you are looking for.  

As with any endeavor, I have seen fabricator errors.  The most glaring error
was many years ago on a project where stitch welds and caulking was
substituted for a continuous weld on a plate girder.  This is one of those
rare exceptions to the general good quality of steel fabrication that I have
seen all over the world.

Harold Sprague
The Neenan Company

-----Original Message-----
From: mark gress [mailto:mgress(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 1998 5:31 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Steel Fab Shop Inspections

I will be going to make a visit to a steel fabrication shop in the near
future to look at the steel members that are being fabricated.  The owner
suggested that I go and take a look at how the work is progressing.

The shop drawings were already reviewed and returned to the fabricator and
as far as making sure he has made the requested changes, what else should I
focus on?

What shortcuts could the fabricators be making that I can check??  

Any ideas???



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