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NISD 2018: Three Themes to Spotlight

The NISD’s (National Institute of Steel Detailers) 50th Conference, held in Phoenix, Arizona May 4th and 5th provided a diverse set of speakers and topics, which did not disappoint the audience or me. Although this was my first NISD conference to attend, I came away with plenty of notes and ideas to share with my colleagues and you.

I could not possibly include all of my notes, ideas and thoughts in this post but I will include three spotlights of discussion that stood out. These were not intended themes but each speaker touched on these as did the discussions over breakfast, lunch and at breaks. The three themes I will spotlight include:

  • Difficulties of Project Communication
  • Love/Hate Relationship with Technology
  • Challenges with Hiring

Difficulties of Project Communication

Spotlight number one is nothing new to the audience but I was surprised that after 12 years in the industry as a marketer, I’m still hearing this gap in the communication workflow from the practitioners. This started during the Welcome Cocktail hour and continued the next morning into breakfast, where one detailer said, “The A drawings and the S drawings in the bid don’t often lineup causing me to spend my time figuring things out.”

It was not just in the bid process. George Rolla, representing American Welding Society spent a good portion of his presentation “Welding Codes for Detailers” addressing the need to correct common errors. George said of learning to communicate with welders, “We know what he (the detailer) meant but it has to be there in case it goes to court. So an RFI needs to go out but that slows down the job. Inspector does not want to hold things up and turns a blind eye. But no! just do it right from the beginning.”

To continue on the drawing side of communication. One person said, “I’m not going to trust shop drawings until I inspect them first.” Dave Schulz of Schulz Iron Works and representing the Steel Erectors Association of America (SEAA) as the association’s new president, continued this theme in his presentation, “What detailers need to know about Steel Erection” said, “we love the models. When you (the detailers) give us (fabricators and erectors) the models we look at it.”

Quality-Budget-Scope graphicGreg Brawley of PDC Asia Pacific, in his presentation, “A New Look at Old Issues” said, “We don’t have 100% of the information at the start of a project so the quality, according to the Triple Constraint Triangle, is off; so we’re doomed for poor quality.”

Access to shared information, provides that flow of communication needed for project success. This information, such as connection design and configuration options, is generated in the cloud and becomes available for review (and sharing) faster than ever before because of technology

Love/Hate Relationship with Technology

I’m naturally drawn into these discussions because of my role in the industry. It’s also my general interest to understand the balance between the technology that binds us versus the technology that automates processes therefore reducing our time on tasks. Today it’s how to utilize technology to make the detailer’s life easier not more complicated.

The audience included a mix of those along the technology bell curve, from innovators to laggards. This mix was positive because so often I have found myself at conferences surrounded by like-minded and innovative individuals. With this audience, I heard the concern of losing much-needed intuition that comes from learning the basics first. I also came away realizing the misunderstanding of what 3D modeling can provide on a project – throughout the life of a project.

“I get 3D models and they’re useless. Why do I need to see so many columns; they are so tiny I can’t understand what’s going on?” This comment during breakfast and referenced a warehouse. Most of us have seen full-project models drawn to one sheet, which gives a great overview of the project but little useful detailing information. So if you’re only looking at the 3D model as a static, fancy drawing on the screen it will certainly appear to have little or no value; however, what was not understood was all the detail and information inside the model.

christian-and-attendeeIn addition to these detailers, I talked with several detailers who have started to provide miscellaneous in addition to structural over the past few years. Schulz stated during his presentation, that in his experience, “it’s better to work with fewer people” and having miscellaneous and structural responsible for the detailing is a positive.

Another attendee said, “The guy behind the computer screen forgets or does not know what this will be like for the guy in the field.” Combining the experience and the understanding of technology will also increase positive communication.

Challenges with Hiring

George Jones sang “who’s gonna fill these shoes?” and that song rang true to for me during NISD. OK, so The Possum did not expect talent to replace Merle, Hank or Willie but we do expect the Steel Detailer industry to replace themselves with others who are just as passionate and committed. These folks certainly are good people, good humor and have a real interest in keeping their profession growing. I dare say that doing that is almost a full-time second job. Several attendees were retired. Several brought along younger detailers. It’s going to take time, education and patience for those that have reached the top.

Charlie Carter, American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) President was asked about acquiring young talent and how to groom a new hire as detailers. In addition to talking about the Education Foundation, he also said, “A lot of what we need can/should be done through schools. We can also do things at the college/university level.”

A very telling question was asked by Marianna Ludmer (also representing AWS): “How does one become a Detailer?” As a few people attempted to answer the question, my mind went to my daughter’s teacher recent email asking parents to come speak about their career. My career in this industry has been to help communicate the benefits of technology to detailers and others in the building and construction industry. After this question and the stumbles to answer it, I might just speak to her class and share my role in the exciting and rewarding steel industry and the different opportunities that are available.

Brawley asked, “Why are there not more young people in this business? It’s not sexy. It’s not like sitting on the couch designing software.” As a marketer, it’s how we present steel detailing. It is sexy. Really. It is designing. It is creating. It is contributing to great iconic projects and beautiful designs and the everyday infrastructure that moves us ahead one beam, one column, one connection at a time.

What can you do?

You’ve read this far. You must be interested. Share your thoughts. The more conversation we can have about these issues the quicker we’ll get to resolving them.

So until next year, during your busy day as a detailer and dealing with the continued challenges, consider what you can do to increase the needed project transparency, to embrace technology to help you reach your project and professional goals and to contribute to the next generation of detailers by sharing your profession with someone younger, much younger. Ask me what I’m doing to contribute. Ask me how Qnect contributes. I’m interested in having this conversation with you.

. . . . . . . . . .

Christian Erickson, Qnect’s Director of Global Marketing and Sales, attends conferences and events and shares his observations on industry trends in the Qnect news blog.

Qnect’s Great Week at NASCC 2018

It’s good to have great weeks. Qnect had a successful week at this year’s NASCC: The Steel Conference! Seeing our customers, partners and other members of the steel industry is always a highlight at this annual event. In addition, we gained more customers, announced an investment in Qnect by Nucor, enjoyed the Thursday Conference Dinner and soaked in the positive energy so many were feeling in the Baltimore Convention Center.

If you were able to join us, you might have been one of many that sat in on our product demo “Using Qnect for ​Value Engineering and ​​Project Optimization” and our workshop “How to Leverage ​Tekla + Qnect for Esti-modeling.”

During the conference, we had literature that highlighted our work with the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, The Harper and Rock Hill School as well as quality microfibers for our booth visitors. We kept a few of the Qnect Microfibers back at HQ so if you would like some let us know and we’ll be happy to send a few out to you.

For those that did not make the trek to Baltimore, you missed our 10×20 booth where we offered demonstrations of QuickQnect and B+Op (read about B+Op here).

Several people have already requested a personal demo either because you were unable to get one at the booth or because you needed more team members to sit in with you. For all of you, you can request a personal demo by filling out this form or contacting Christian Erickson directly at Christian@Qnect.com and we’ll arrange a time.

NASCC 2018 Show Special

For even bigger news…our show special has been extended to those that were not able to attend the event. That’s right, even you can get the show special. You receive 20% off the cost of your first 500 tons for your first Qnect project when you upload and connect your model before June 30, 2018.

NASCC 2018 Show Special Coupon

Visit our Facebook page to see the photo album from the conference, including a few pictures of the Booth, the Product Demo and Workshop.

To be the first to see our news and announcements below follow on our social pages:

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We look forward to seeing you throughout the year and in St. Louis for #NASCC19! And…a special thanks to AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) for another great event.



About AISC: American Institute Of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry in the United States. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural-steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry providing timely and reliable information.

About NASCC: The Steel Conference

NASCC: THE STEEL CONFERENCE is the ideal place for structural engineers, steel fabricators, detailers and erectors to learn about structural steel design and construction, to interact with their peers and to see the latest products for steel buildings and bridges. The Steel Conference offers more than 100 technical sessions and is the premier educational event for structural engineers, fabricators, erectors and detailers. In addition to practical seminars on the latest design concepts and construction techniques, the conference offers an extensive trade show (featuring products ranging from structural software to machinery for cutting steel beams) and plentiful networking opportunities. It’s a once-a-year opportunity to learn the latest techniques, see the most innovative products and network with your peers and clients.

Qnect continues to shape the steel industry with investment from Nucor

America’s Largest Steel Producer is Lead Investor
in SaaS Connection Optimization Company

Qnect is welcoming Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) as the lead investor for Qnect’s $3.8 million funding round. Qnect provides software and digital engineering to optimize connections and production throughput for better steel project efficiency.

“We are proud to be able to partner with Nucor. Their investment recognizes the power of our software and is a gratifying endorsement from such a prominent leader in the steel industry,” says Jef Sharp, CEO of Qnect. “Qnect helps everybody in the industry with early data and optimization cost benefits that make steel the best choice.”

Nucor is looking forward to working with Qnect as it delivers on its vision of bringing significant efficiencies to the design, fabrication, and erection of steel structures and provides stewardship to the construction process.

Introduced to the market in April 2016, Qnect’s cloud-based connection software is designed for steel detailers, fabricators, engineers and others involved in the structural steel workflow. Qnect projects have recognized savings from earlier delivery of shop drawings, improved fabrication throughput, reduction in connection costs, and streamlined approvals and revisions.

With Nucor’s investment, Qnect will strengthen its market position in North America and key international markets.

“This investment in Qnect emphasizes Nucor’s commitment to continuous improvement, our dedication to our customers and our belief that technology will continue to drive the steel industry,” said John Hollatz, President of Nucor’s Vulcraft / Verco Group. “Nucor is looking forward to working with Qnect as it delivers on its vision of bringing significant efficiencies to the design, fabrication, and erection of steel structures and provides stewardship to the construction process.”

Read the full release »
Download the FAQ »

Nucor and its affiliates are manufacturers of steel products, with operating facilities primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Products produced include: carbon and alloy steel — in bars, beams, sheet and plate; hollow structural section tubing; electrical conduit; steel piling; steel joists and joist girders; steel deck; fabricated concrete reinforcing steel; cold finished steel; steel fasteners; metal building systems; steel grating; and wire and wire mesh. Nucor is North America’s largest recycler.

B+Op: The Great Optimizer

B+Op (bäp) noun 1 An acronym for Bolt Optimization pioneered by Qnect.
verb 1 The action of optimizing a structural model through improving efficiency without sacrificing a project’s safety and integrity.

In an increasingly competitive world, it’s essential for fabricators, detailers and EORs to utilize tools that allow them to work faster, lower costs and accelerate revisions. Thankfully, Qnect is answering that call with B+Op. It’s not a chemical or algebraic formula. B+Op is simply an acronym for Bolt Optimization. B+Op includes a combination of bolt, plate, angle, weld and labor optimization for each engineered joint in a steel structure.

QuickQnect users, such as Julien Locus, Program Manager with fabricator Metal Perreault, lauds bolt optimization for its ability to “maximize efficiency while maintaining required engineering limit states.”

By narrowing the scope of each connection design to just one connection, bolt optimization ensures that each connection is just that – optimized.

For decades, standard vertical bolt spacing has been a consistent 3 inches between bolts. This consistency was important to maintain quality control and conformance. As CNC equipment became more sophisticated and easier to manufacture the practice of 3 inch spacing didn’t evolve at the same rate as the CNC equipment. And for connections, there is only a T/2 requirement that must be met in order to satisfy the AISC code. As long as T/2 is satisfied, and the instantaneous center of rotation and all limit states are satisfied, then 3 inches is not required.

Not surprisingly, “B+Op” is a big help to fabricators looking to optimize their connections. “Fabricators in particular benefit greatly from bolt optimization,” Locus says, “the way it saves both time and money makes it a must for all projects.”

But it’s not just fabricators who benefit from bolt optimization. Erleen Hatfield, formerly of BuroHappold and Thornton Tomasetti, explains that “engineers who design connections also benefit, because B+Op gives them the ability to quickly study different connection variations. Ultimately, the General Contractor or Owner can be the primary beneficiary, as B+Op saves substantial costs to a project.”

QuickQnect user Michael Nelson of Meyer Borgman Johnson, succinctly breaks it down like this: “Bolt optimization allows each connection to be uniquely designed to suit its exact condition. The alternative, more typical practice, of using standardized details has an intrinsic conservatism in that it tries to cover as many different conditions as possible. By narrowing the scope of each connection design to just one connection, bolt optimization ensures that each connection is just that – optimized.”

As Chief Drafter at Canam Group, Line Cusson understands the power of B+Op, perhaps putting it best that “there is really no reason not to be using bolt optimization, nor do I think there is a project that wouldn’t benefit from it.”

NASCC 2018: Free workshops and a show special

Join Qnect’s connection experts at NASCC 2018 for two free, hour-long workshops offering tips and tricks on how to optimize the connection and detailing processes to work faster, lower costs and accelerate revisions.

NASCC 2018 Show Special

With our big news we are offering a big promotion to kickstart your next project with Qnect. From April 16th until June 15th, 2018 Qnect will offer a 20% discount off the cost of the first 500 tons on your first Qnect project.

NASCC 2018 Show Special Coupon

How to Leverage ​Tekla + Qnect for ‘Esti-modeling’

Thursday 11:30a-12:30p | Session EW17 | Room 339

Hosts: Henry Lederman, CSO Qnect & Scott Love, Owner Integrous Steel Software Solutions

​It’s all about early data. By leveraging your Tekla software with Qnect’s connection modeling capabilities, you will estimate faster, with more accuracy and get ​ insight into optimization opportunities. Typical results include reduced costs, reduced work hours and increased profits. ​Come see how easy and quick it is to build a stick model, connect it, and ​analyze the data so you can create accurate bids using Tekla + Qnect.  Transfer data to your cost analysis software (FabTrol, FabSuite, STRUMIS) for accurate reporting.

Who should attend: Fabricators, Detailers, Engineers, Erectors

Using Qnect for ​Value Engineering and ​​Project Optimization

Wed 2:30-3:00pm | Session PD2 | Stage 2

Host: Henry Lederman, CSO Qnect

​Leverage your Tekla investment​ with ​Qnect’s fast, intelligent, cloud-based connection software. We will demonstrate the ease of connecting your Tekla model 9 times simultaneously using 9 different sets of parameters with Qnect’s buttons 1 and 2. We will demonstrate how to reduce 20% or more bolts on your projects by using QuickQnect’s Bolt Optimization radio button​. We will show you how early data will identify the location of ​beams requiring​ reinforcement doublers and how our Doubler report will help you eliminate them.

Who should attend: Fabricators, Detailers, Engineers, Erectors

Industry Veteran Christian Erickson Joins Qnect as Director of Global Marketing and Sales

Christian Erickson Joins Management Team to Drive Awareness and Customer Growth

christian_ericksonQnect, the connection optimization software company, is welcoming aboard Christian Erickson as its Director of Global Marketing and Sales. In this new role, Erickson will steer the company’s marketing strategies and sales operations in order to align with Qnect’s vision.

With more than 20 years experience in both sales and marketing, Erickson previously served marketing and leadership roles at AEC industry companies such as Autodesk and Tekla where he led projects to increase awareness, generate demand and engage the customer base. He has a proven track record of building successful marketing programs, teams and delivering results from startups to public companies.

Jef Sharp, Qnect’s CEO said, “We are at a critical stage of growth. Our commitment to our current and future customers continues to lead our decisions. Christian is a leader who understands this and has a strong history of putting customers first. We are excited to have him join our team to help shape Qnect’s global culture and product narrative while introducing new customers and keeping our current customers well nourished.”

“Qnect offers steel detailers, fabricators and engineers a unique value proposition for a changing industry. Qnect’s optimization technology offers traditional professionals an opportunity for the incremental change they are comfortable with, while offering cutting-edge professionals an opportunity to leapfrog the competition, to increase profits and exceed deadline expectations,” says Erickson. “I am honored to join such a high-caliber team with a product that has such a positive impact on the steel industry. Qnect exists to make a profound difference in the industry and to change the lives of our customers.”

Discover how Qnect’s intelligent, cloud-based connection software can optimize your projects — contact Christian at christian@qnect.com for a demo.

The importance of quality and a good night’s sleep

And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good—
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

Saving time on engineering and detailing with QuickQnect allows the engineer, the detailer and the fabricator to focus on quality. Has there ever been a construction project that would not benefit from a little extra time to focus on quality?

Let’s examine a typical project and see how Qnect adds value at each critical step.

The fabrication process can’t begin until the connections are known. QuickQnect produces engineered connections in a matter of hours, not weeks.

Time wasted is an opportunity cost. Lag time waiting for changes to a design or a model is costly. RFI’s (Requests for Information) cost time and money.

Slow down, we say. Spend just a little time up front carefully considering the engineering and fabricator preferences on the preference dashboard of Qnect’s website. Run the job 10 or more times – in less than an hour – to compare the cost differences for different preference choices such as bolt diameters, shear versus clip angles, welding vs. bolting, etc.

Think about it. Take a road trip on your bike. Hit the reset button.

Come back and make final tweaks to your personalized preferences and then run ~70% of your connections in under an hour using QuickQnect. Next, with one click, prepare the floor plan maps showing the remaining connections needed for the engineer and the detailer to polish off sequence one.

Everyone on the team can easily see what is left and can focus on any engineering or detailing challenges. Revisions are fast and easy, and they are always free from Qnect – our gift to quality. More time and breathing room leads to careful, smart decisions, quality, timely shop drawings and a good night’s sleep. Enjoy a little Zen and the art of connection design.

Detailing drives everything

By Jef Sharp, CEO, Qnect

While traveling with the Tekla Roadshow this past month in California I asked clients and future Qnect clients what was a common pain point for their projects. In the steel engineering and construction industry, more often than not, I heard “detailing” as the frequent determining factor. Why? Because detailing is a critical role to creating accurate shop drawings and the entire process. It’s the balancing point between the push of the EOR and the pull of the Fabricator, and the Detailer must carefully manage that territory – the nexus.

When done well, with the right knowledge and time sensitive inputs from the EOR/owner and the right knowledge and time sensitive inputs from the Fabricator, all is good with the world. Yet in our conversations with Detailers, EORs and Fabricators, we asked how often the balancing act is pulled off well. The words “never” or “not often enough” were pretty common responses.

How can Detailers mitigate the inherent push-pull pressures? The answer is a confluence of great people and the right technology at the right time. When we talk to customers about their projects and ask what pain points are we solving, the number one value we bring to the steel engineering and construction industry is TIME. Are we surprised? Of course not. Our software was created by individuals who spent over 40 years searching for TIME in order to give the Detailer a fighting chance to make changes quickly and easily – and use the technology to accelerate design reviews to identify important details that otherwise might be overlooked.
Forward thinking companies are using QuickQnect to buy TIME for asking questions such as “should there be paint on the slot?”, or “can the bolt be erected with the right clearance?”

What makes Qnect a good fit for MBJ is that the software and service make the connections more economical which helps our clients and us.

Admit it, every project has a multitude of details that can easily be overlooked – and everyone at one point in their career has felt the pain of a detail that slipped through the cracks. Users of QuickQnect are enhancing their project processes, and efficiencies to achieve new heights of quality and economy in a very time-sensitive environment.

Now that you have the answer, the question is: Have you worked with Qnect?

Qnect Accelerates Seattle Airport Project

Above: Image of Sea-Tac International Terminal. | Photo credit: HOK Architects

TOP100 AirportsWhat’s the #1 pain point at the airport? Delays. According to Skytrak’s World Airport Awards, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is listed as one of the top 100 airports in the world, moving down four spots from 2016. How can they move back up the list? Prevent delays. With a little help from QuickQnect software and a team of engineers, detailers, and fabricators the Sea-Tac airport will expand gates and aircraft hold positions in no time.

The expansion will benefit globetrotters and the local economy. Seattle Commissioner Bowman said, “This project represents benefits not just for travelers, but also for the broader community, including more jobs in construction and airport industries, future opportunities for entrepreneurs in dining and retail businesses, sophisticated building plans to lessen our environmental impact and an artistic vision that our community can be proud of.”

And Senator Maria Cantwell said, “I was proud to help break ground on Sea-Tac Airport’s North Terminal expansion, adding eight gates and new amenities for passengers. Sea-Tac is one of the fastest growing airports in the nation and we must keep making these critical investments in our infrastructure to accommodate our growing economy.”

Tekla model of SeaTac North Terminal expansion

A Tekla stick model of the SeaTac North Terminal expansion

Behind the scenes on the Sea-Tac project, Qnect saved time and money. We also broke an old habit. Initially the Engineer of Record (EOR) delivered “mandated” connections. The fabricator pushed to use Qnect. He knew the software would create efficiencies in scheduling the job. The EOR agreed and delivered non-mandated reactions which were used by Qnect to engineer and optimize the joints at extraordinary speed. Qnect engineered the connections of the Sea-Tac model in one hour, which had a very positive impact on the schedule and optimized substantial savings.

Bidding on a project? Want to know quickly if Qnect is for you, send the Qnect team your next project. Start today. See how QuickQnect works with your Tekla models in our 13 minute demo video.

For additional Media Coverage:

“Why isn’t everyone using Qnect?”

At a recent meeting of the Boston Society for Construction Solutions, an attendee raised their hand and asked us this provocative question: “If Qnect is so incredible, why isn’t everyone using it?” It’s quite simple: until you witness the speed, power and accuracy of QuickQnect, it’s hard to imagine that what we’re doing is even possible.

Qnect is value engineering, offering savings and quality with first-class shop drawings in an efficient manner.

Qnect is the best kept secret in the structural steel industry because it offers companies a powerful advantage. They can run jobs with different connection options, optimizing costs and production to fit their capabilities. The end result: lightning fast quick turnaround for structural steel connections that lets them win more bids and puts them ahead of their competition.

Leading companies have discovered Qnect and we’re their secret power.

Qnect is the detailing optimization company. We optimize for…

Speed: Two joints per second means weeks off your schedule.

Quality: Consistent, accurate engineering and modeling.

Efficiency: We iterate in thousands of ways to find the most efficient connection.

Safety: 30% fewer bolts means 30% fewer bolt related accidents

Cost: Each project receives $30-$120/ton in savings.

The good news is if you win a job, we can help you immediately optimize it.

Discover why Qnect is the industry’s best kept secret – watch the QuickQnect demo now.

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