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New Jersey Iron - Why SDS2 is the Heart of Our Operation

New Jersey Iron: SDS2 Is the Heart of Our Operation

New Jersey Iron is a 4th generation owned family business with 5th generation now here.  My brother and I are each over the 30-year mark in the business, having started in high school as summer jobs and each could run the first CNC punchline we installed in 1990.  We do projects as large as 1,100 tons, but medium projects are mostly what we do so our tonnage comes in around 3,500 tons a year.  We have (4) SDS2 stations for detailing, fabrication is all done with CNC equipment, including stairs and rails.  We also do our own shipping, erection, shear stud install, and small crane work (rent larger ones).   

The two of us are very much hands-on, for example when we buy a new machine, one if not both of us go through the training which allows us to see befits and areas of improvement. Many times, we have heard “no one has mentioned that before, great idea.”  We believe in a hands-on approach because it keeps us in the mix of everything as we can see for ourselves if something can or can’t be done, and at what speed.  

SDS2 is the heart of our operation, I have been using it since 2001.  I had always wanted to use SDS2 for estimating and in 2016 became the main estimator doing the model in SDS2.  In SDS2 2018 alone, I have 232 projects.  I can do most models in a day, with larger projects or intricate ones in about 2 days all thanks to the many improvements such as reference drawings, parametrics (kicker braces, bent plate, edge angles), custom properties (to enter shear stud count), components (roof frames, stiffeners outriggers) and moment connections.  The model is imported into Tekla PowerFab, where labor and material lists are produced. As an added benefit, while trying to land the project I can screen share the estimodel with clients and proactively go over issues like staging, tonnages, problems, etc. 

Once a project is awarded the model is cleaned up and approval drawings are made. During approval, I often host web meetings with the design team and GC to review the SDS2 model. Just about every time I get the comment, “this is great software, what is it?”  I tell them, then enjoy pointing out that we have had it since 2001.  We routinely send out a snapshot of the model from the RFI creator so an engineer can see the issue with a 3D PDF. 

After approval SDS2 makes the CNC to Raptor for our Peddinghaus (5) tool drill and Shop Data Systems for the plate processor.  Angle master and coper files come direct from SDS2 as well. All material is reserved after importing data from SDS2 to Tekla PowerFab where production control and purchase orders bring it all together.  In the 90’s making these CNC and material lists entries by hand basically took about as much time as it takes to complete a model now. Just last year we automated our stairs and rails with an EMI pipe cutter and Lightning Rail.   

In the shop during fabrication, if there are any questions our people have an SDS2 station with 36” monitor to review the model or drawings.  This is most helpful in seeing how things go together especially in the case of galvanized units to check shipping or kettle requirements. Our erectors also have a copy of the model to see sequencing for staging on-site or developing a crane placement plan with the general contractor.  

Other benefit of SDS2 is getting involved with the hard workers at SDS2, I benchmark their service and commitment to logging and tracking bugs when considering any software. I feel fortunate to have met other SDS2 users such Dennis McCartney or B&B Iron who got us into SDS2, Mark Selvaggio at Selvaggio Steel, whom I bounced ideas off about estimating with SDS2, and Bruce Vaughan at BV Detailing who helped me by developing the nailer hole parametric and others. At every stage, you can see we rely on a great many tools SDS2 has to offer.  The only drawback to our hands-on management approach is not much time off, so I have yet to make it to a User’s Group Conference.I plan to change that with the plan to have User’s Groups at remote locations. Thank you SDS2 for all the years of great service.