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Aside from the engineering concerns, there are also fabrication concerns.  If you ever get to visit a steel fabrication plant and see how the fabricators use the shop drawings, you will soon realize that the drawings are meant to have the operator set up the machine tools to perform the fabrication without having to do any arithmetic.

For example (hypothetically), drill the first hole 3 inches from the end, then drill the next hole 6 inches from the end.  Instead of using serial dimensions, i.e. 3" then 3", the detail or shop drawing will use parallel dimensions of  3" and 6".  An engineer would consider both arrangements acceptable, but for conciseness,  would prefer the serial method. A shop fabricator would prefer the 3" & 6" parallel dimensioning because they only need to reset the pointer on the drill press, thus cuts the fabrication time.

When the engineer lays out a detail, they are not suppose to know what kind of machine tools will be used, so the work can be competatively bid.  Thus, engineers have no idea how to prepare the drawings for error-free fabrication as machine tools will vary from shop to shop and from time to time.


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