Technologies within all industries are constantly evolving, and, of course, steel fabrication is no exception. Steel Service is constantly seeking new ways to leverage those technological advancements as they relate to enhancing productivity, reducing waste, and most importantly, improving safety. Our transition to Tekla PowerFab does exactly that.

What Is Tekla PowerFab?

Steel Service President and CEO, Jim Simonson, provided details. “[Tekla PowerFab] is a comprehensive production management, estimating tool which allows the company to better track inventory and production control.” 

Tekla PowerFab also takes 3D models of structures and feeds the data directly into Steel Service fabrication equipment, providing the most accurate information possible for the layout cuts, holes, welds, etc.

The software replaced an older software technology previously developed by Steel Service called Steel 2000. The decision to move onto new software was not made hastily. There was over “ten years of research and development” put into the selection and implementation of Tekla PowerFab.

Big Improvements to the Process

Saving Time

The impact of Tekla PowerFab’s integration was felt almost immediately. The time saved by Tekla PowerFab has been game changing for Steel Service’s productivity. “Before, we were having to input everything manually from start to finish. But now we can input straight from the model. It’s a huge step” said Brandon Cothran, Pre Production Manager. The software has helped automate several systems, for example purchasing and CNC, which has helped streamline previously slower tasks. Dan MacGregor, Steel Service’s Information Technology Manager, continued, “Some people had an entire day’s worth of work, now they have only an hour.”

Saving Money

“It allows us to do more with less. We’ve become more efficient in departments, so as we grow as a company, we can do larger and more complex projects,” explained Mr. Simonson. In addition, Tekla PowerFab’s integration with Steel Service’s fabrication software is reaping savings with reduced material usages.

A Smooth Transfer To Tekla

Overcoming Inventory Challenges

Like any successful company, when something isn’t broken, why fix it? Because Steel Service is, and pardon our pun, on the cutting edge. 

Any problems met when transitioning over to Tekla PowerFab were met head on. Getting Steel Service’s inventory into the new system proved to be the toughest challenge to overcome. The company’s inventory stretches between fabrication, production jobs, and Steel Service’s in-house warehouse. “You’re talking about an inventory that’s 15,000, 20,000 tons of material,” Mr. Simonson added.

Employee Impact

“The training and development was planned out. It was much easier than we thought it would be,” said Simonson. And so, staff working with the new system have adapted rapidly. Steel Service brought in a trainer who walked staff through basic set-ups and showed each department how to operate Tekla PowerFab as it related to our specific needs. From there, the trainer provided multiple examples of the different ways Tekla PowerFab can solve company problems. Between the training and the regular updates to the software, Tekla PowerFab is becoming an integral part of the staff’s process. 

Impact on Safety

Tekla PowerFab is just one of the many steps Steel Service has taken to upgrade and update our manufacturing processes. Steel Service has two PeddiBots in use in addition to multiple Peddinghaus plate machines, angle processing equipment, saws, multi spindle drills, and material handling systems all meant to reduce the risk of injury to staff. “There are many enhancements with the technology, not just [Tekla] PowerFab,” Mr. Simonson explained, “but through so much equipment throughout the plant, making it a safer environment for workers.”

Steel Service continues to enhance productivity, reduce waste, and improve safety. This helps us as a company, our customers, and our employees. This transition to Tekla PowerFab checks all the boxes, and Steel Service continues to look forward to more opportunities.