3 Ways Lawton Welding Completed “The Lucas” Faster Using Advance Steel

4 May 2023Advance Steel, Architecture and Engineering, Autodesk Software, BIM, BIM workflow, Construction, Design, Digital Transformation, Fabrication, Structural design3D Model, Advance Steel, Applied Software, Autodesk Software, efficiency, productivity, standardization, workflows



Years ago, Massachusetts structural steel company Lawton Welding did the steel detailing and fabricating for a project that renovated and repurposed an old stone church. There were problems with the project, mainly because of irregularities of the stone structure. The amount of rework stretched out Lawton’s portion of the project to twelve weeks.

As described in an Autodesk customer story, about six years ago, Lawton worked on a similar project – The Lucas. Instead of taking three months for steel detailing and fabrication, this much larger project, which was about ten times the size of the previous stone church project, required only half the time – six weeks.

The Lucas, a former church from the late 1800s in downtown Boston, was being converted into 33 luxury condominiums on eight stories. While there were similar challenges to the previous renovation project, Lawton was able to use a new detailing software it had implemented: Autodesk® Advance Steel.

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photo of man in hardhat and orange safety vest working on mobile device with steel building framing overhead
Advance Steel image: Shutterstock

With Advance Steel, Lawton staff gained the ability to detail steelwork in three dimensions with almost no rework. When changes were needed, there was no frantic scrambling. A change could be made, and everything would automatically update.

The 80,000-square-foot development, designed by Finegold Alexander Architects, maintained the church’s existing puddingstone façade and exterior walls, while placing an eight-story building in the center of the church’s footprint. The glass and steel structure rising from behind the original stone challenged the detailing team to interact with the existing walls, which, similar to Lawton’s previous church project, had irregularities of the stone structure that caused distortions at various places. Detailers had to design close enough to the walls but not contact them, while not staying so far away that it would affect design performance.

Following are 3 ways Lawton Welding completed “The Lucas” faster using Advance Steel:

  1.  IMPROVED ACCURACY – After implementing Advance Steel, Lawton reported a drop in the average error rate of steel fabrication from ten percent to less than one percent. Before Advance Steel, Lawton reported having little standardization in fabrication drawings, contributing to a higher error rate. With Advance Steel and standards, drawings are equivalent, benefitting the fabrication shop and reducing human error. On The Lucas, a 3D survey of the interior walls was imported into Advance Steel, enabling detailers to draw with quarter-inch precision, drastically reducing rework. Working in 3D, Advance Steel enables detailers to understand how their drawings will work in the field. By ensuring the plan is adequate before it is sent to the engineer, less engineering redesign is required.
  2.  FASTER REACTION TIMES – As a building information modeling (BIM) tool, Advance Steel helps projects proceed more smoothly and rapidly. When a last-minute change on The Lucas project needed to be made because of another team’s miscalculation, Lawton was able to adapt its fabrication plans in a matter of minutes to compensate. Manually, that would likely have taken days. As BIM processes are becoming an industry standard, Advance Steel gives companies an advantage for winning more work and completing jobs more quickly.
  3.  RETURN ON INVESTMENT – Lawton reported that adopting 3D detailing software enabled dramatic time savings at nearly every step of detailing and fabrication. In the Autodesk customer story, the company estimated a return on investment in Advance Steel could be made back on just one job simply through reduced labor costs. Detailing work goes more quickly in Advance Steel, with fewer errors, and the software automatically generates computer numerical control (CNC) fabrication files. As a bonus, when Lawton shared its detailing plans with the project’s plumbing and HVAC contractors, they gave feedback about where additional holes would be needed in the beams. Lawton was able to have the holes cut in the fabrication shop, rather than sending someone to do the work in the field.

From improved accuracy and faster reaction times to a quick return on investment, Advance Steel offers detailing and fabrication companies a way to increase productivity and deliver better projects.

Learn more about the advantages of Advance Steel in the Graitec webinar, “The Benefits of Using Advance Steel vs. 2D AutoCAD.


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