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Material handling in a steel fabrication shop

Three Big Reasons to Ditch Your Trial-and-Error Loading Process Today

There’s a problem with your trial and error loading process, and that problem is error. When you’re working with items weighing two thousand pounds and more, error is not only costly and time-consuming, but dangerous as well. And yet that’s the way it’s always been done—guess and check, trial and error, loading lists and mental maps, or maybe some ad hoc visualization tools.   

What if we told you there was a better way? SDS2 Load Planning (formerly Fortosi) was first released in 2018 to solve precisely these problems and dramatically reduce material handling in the shop and the field.  

The product, which is independent of SDS2’s more widely known steel detailing software, allows you to transform any IFC 2x3 file from your preferred modeling software—including SDS2, Tekla, Cadwork, and more—into 3D loading plans.  

It’s a disruptive technology in the best way possible, entirely new to shop floors but packed with time, money, and even life saving potential.

Adopting new tech can often be seen as a risky move, but there are plenty of advantages to getting on board with SDS2 Load Planning early. Here are three of the most important:  
 

1. You can be the trendsetter for a new industry standard. 

Since its initial release, SDS2 Load Planning has been under a rapid development schedule. Major updates and new features are added throughout the year. In 2020 alone, Load Planning has been upgraded with bundling capabilities, cleaner load maps, customizable user properties, roundtripping integrations, and more—many of these stemming directly from user feedback.   

Getting on board early gives you incredible opportunities to share your feedback, vision, and ultimate wish list for the software’s future. How will you use it? What features and capabilities will benefit your shop? Try it out and let us know, and we can work together to start making it a reality.  

“When you purchase SDS2 Load Planning, I consider you a stakeholder,” says James Schwartz, software advocate and development manager for Load Planning. “You get on board early, and you can have a real impact on our development plan.”  
 

2. You'll see the benefits immediately with faster, smarter, and safer material handling. 

Right out of the gate, SDS2 Load Planning has brought huge savings and transformative workflows to our customers. While your typical bill of material may indicate by weight what will fit on a given load, our virtual load planning software additionally takes geometry and balance into consideration, providing an automatic center of gravity marker as pieces are virtually added, moved, or modified.  

“There is no trial and error on my production floor,” said David Graves of Garrison Steel, one of SDS2 Load Planning’s early users. “I hand them a load map, and they put the pieces in place.”  

With better and smarter planning, our customers have seen dramatic reductions in material handling, optimized loads with fewer trips, clear communication between loaders and shop foreman, and increased safety on the floor and in the field. Some have also found that it can serve as a secondary check on materials before shipping when, for example, you lose track of a revision during fabrication. Plus it can help decentralize your loading expertise, so your shipping gurus can take a vacation now and then without creating major backlogs in your shop.   
 

3. You can start refining your project workflows and get ahead of the competition.

In addition to giving an immediate boost to your loading process, SDS2 Load Planning also has the potential for more long-range and long-term perks for your business—and those are only going to expand as the software progresses and you, as an early adopter, begin to discover further possibilities and influence its development.  

Imagine the possibilities, for example, of sequencing your structural steel fabrication with a loading plan already in place. You could move your steel straight from fabrication to the trailer with less congestion, keeping your process clean, organized, and streamlined.    

Better yet, in keeping with lean construction methods, you could think further down the line to offloading and erection. If you could deliver loads exactly as the pieces are going to be put up in the field, you’d accelerate the timeline for the entire project, making your customers and other project stakeholders happy, saving everyone money, and building your reputation for long term success. 


“For our customers, how the product shows up is a really important deal…It’s creating a separation for us so that people see a noticeable difference between CoBuilt steel and someone else’s steel. In some ways I don’t want other people to know about [Load Planning] because I want to keep it as a little thing that only we know about.”

- Bryan Boggs, CoBuilt, LLC
 

Of course, implementing process changes like that takes time, which is one more reason to get in early—the sooner you start adapting, the sooner you can begin the transformation and start reaping the benefits. 

With technology, automation, and optimization solutions at every other stage in a project, it’s amazing that loading and shipping has been overlooked for so long. But with customers worldwide gaining interest, it’s clear that virtual load planning is on its way to becoming an industry standard. Now’s your chance to get ahead and distinguish yourself from the competition. 

 

 

 

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