3 min read

Follow-Up: 10 Quick Tips to Help Save Money on Structural Steel

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Last week we pointed out how to reduce lead times and save money from the customer’s perspective by properly submitting RFQs that were neat, included technical specifications, loads, site address, delivery date and more.  

This week we are focusing more on how to save money from a design standpoint, which ultimately can reduce lead times. From the customer to sales, purchasing, estimating, engineering, detailing, fabrication, galvanizing  and down to shipping, knowing how projects are priced and what factors affect lead time and cost, helps to avoid any hidden surprises or confusion.


So, we’ve listed out 10 tips to help save money on structural steel, however, they’re not meant to be taken as the rule in every situation when dealing with different fabricators or design specifications.

1. Weathering steel generally costs less because unlike galvanized steel, it doesn’t get the galvanized coating. (Typically see weathering steel more with transmission structures.)

2. Usually, the more steel ordered at one time could help give you a better price. In this instance, if you had different structures for one substation, instead of ordering separately, try to coordinate to order all the structures together, which could save money on freight and other expenses.

3. Loads with over-length and over-width sections could get costly because you have to get freight permitting depending on the states along the delivery route. Typically, the price for wider structures is greater than longer structures.

4. Expedited lead times can increase price. Since a production backlog is already in place, fabricators would need to expedite engineering, detailing, rearrange product schedule or may have to include some overtime.

5. Special weld inspection requirements and tests that are beyond typical industry standards could raise the price. If the fabricator needs to pull in a third party to inspect, send material off for testing or bring in an expert, it could increase the price.

6. Direct Embedded structures typically cost less than base plate structures because they require less material and labor. (Depending on certain requirements such as environment, design or structure type)

7. For transmission structures, utilizing the same design for multiple arms can reduce design and fabrication.

8. Generally, by having the least amount of detail on the pole like vangs, equipment or brackets can reduce detailing and fabrication times, as well as weighs less, which helps cost.

9. For substation, using standard structures can save time and money because over time, engineers and detailers can pull these designs, offering better lead times.

10. Having correct drawings and proper weld symbols is critical to fabrication drawings because these symbols quickly indicate the type of weld joint needed to satisfy the requirements for the intended service. Incomplete or vague weld symbols can be interpreted different ways, questioning if the connection will hold up to loadings, which requires backtracking and adds more time and cost.

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