Offering Insight: What is Metal Fabrication Work?
Metal fabrication is the process of putting specialized alloys to work to build, customize or repair both machinery and structures. Because of the practice’s broad nature, such work requires team members with experience in a range of skillsets, including welding, soldering, assembly and more.
Metal fabrication work can then be broken down into two subsequent categories — field fabrication and shop fabrication. While each requires the same basic skillset and produces the same general results, the practices do carry certain advantages. Allow us to explain:
Field Fabrication Overview
Field fabrication entails crew members traveling to clients’ job sites to carry out their work. This is an especially common approach for customization or repair work on pieces that are already installed on-site.
Last-minute changes are easier to incorporate during field fabrication work, since crews have direct access to the finished product’s final home. Such work also tends to result in quicker turnaround times — and lower transportation costs — as only raw materials must be shipped in. Finally, because the final product is created and assembled on-site, it drastically lowers the risk that it might suffer damage before installation.
When carried out in outdoor environments, field fabrication work can find itself at risk of delays — or complete halts — due to adverse weather. Meanwhile, depending on plant conditions, the crews carrying out such work can find it difficult to get to and from the work area — or to usher in the necessary tools, materials and equipment. Finally, because such fabrication is completed on-site, oftentimes while other work is being carried out, it has the potential to impact or delay existing facility work.
Shop Fabrication Overview
Crews carrying out shop fabrication work do so from designated fabrication shops equipped with cranes, tools and other necessities it takes to get the job done. FUSED, for instance maintains a 33,000-square-foot ASME shop for such work.
Crews carrying out shop fabrication work have something of a “home field advantage.” They’re working in spaces they’re familiar with, among people they know, and that can lead to more efficient project completion. Because such shops typically maintain inventories of common parts, materials — and even excess equipment — they can also get back to work quickly and easily, should an unexpected breakdown or missing piece enter the mix. Finally, a shop’s controlled environment means work can continue even amid most adverse weather scenarios.
Last-minute changes, such as new dimensions or additions, are more difficult during shop fabrication work. This is because crew members must rely solely on plans and gut instinct — and don’t have direct access to the assembly site itself. Because fabricated materials must be transported to their final home, additional logistics, as well as the costs and time commitment associated with transportation, must be considered. Finally, fabricated products do risk experiencing damage while en route to their final home.
Selecting the Right Company for Your Houston Fabrication Work
When choosing a construction company to assist with your fabrication needs, it’s all about finding a crew skilled in the specific work you need — and with whom you’ll feel comfortable working. Here are a few questions to ask when talking with potential companies.
Is the Company Willing to Work with You?
Fabrication work can be a lofty investment — one with lasting effects on a plant and its future operations. Make sure the company you work with is willing to discuss all aspects of your work, from budget, to timeline requirements and the best way to approach the work, so as not to disrupt ongoing operations. Open communication — and a willingness on their part to listen to your needs and adjust accordingly — can make all the difference.
Can the Company Provide References?
A company’s prior record can say a lot about its future work. Ask your potential fabrication companies to provide you with a list of prior project partners. Then, reach out. Ask whether they adhered to their promised budget and timeline, and if any issues arose during the work. If so, how were they handled? While you’re at it, ask to see examples of the company’s past work, and check out their online reviews, as well. Such research doesn’t take very long.
Can the Company Help on All Fronts?
Each fabrication project is different, so it stands to reason that the approach should be just as unique. Talk with potential industrial construction companies about what all they have to offer. Can they assist with both field and shop fabrication services? Can they provide insight and assistance beyond basic welding needs? It is often quicker — and more cost-effective — to hire one company to tackle multiple needs on your job site. At FUSED Industries, for instance, our crews provide assistance in the areas of Industrial, Civil and Commercial construction work.