What Are Field Fabrication Of Structural Components?

Structural components that are fabricated on site by trades people constitute the greatest risk for a catastrophic failure. This is due to the fact that control of putting parts together in the field is not done with the same diligence and controlled environment as a factory-made component.

Thus, great care must be taken to ensure that proper testing is performed so that a failure will not occur. The erection of a concrete structure is an excellent example where the use of a mixed type material must have adequate testing.

Concrete is a very viable construction material if placed according to the standards established by the organizations. However, due to the complexity of mixing the ingredients at the plant and transporting it to the site, placing the concrete at the site requires numerous controls to obtain an excellent final product.

The testing of concrete should include:

1. A trial concrete mix approved by the owner’s engineer
2. Proper mixing procedures at the concrete plant
3. Timing for the transportation of the concrete mix
4. Designed and properly installed form work and shoring so that they will not collapse or deflect
5. Temperature monitoring of the concrete at the site (to make sure that flash setting will not occur)
6. Ambient temperature monitoring (too hot for flash setting and too cold for freezing)
7. Slump test to confirm water/cement ratio of the concrete
8. Supervision for concrete vibration and dropping height for the actual placement of the concrete
9. Monitoring the thickness of a concrete slab
10. Assurance that all the concrete encapsulates the reinforcing bars, especially when
pouring columns
11. Placement of a sample of the concrete into concrete cylinders to determine the compressive strength of the concrete at 7, 14, and 28 days (via testing in the laboratory). This will be accomplished for design strength conformance and to know when the forms can be stripped
12. Checking the number and location of the reinforcing bars required for the pour
13. Proper curing of the concrete
14. Assurance that reinforcing bars are properly lapped
15. Assurance that all exterior exposed concrete is covered by 3 inches of concrete
(2 inches for interior concrete) over the reinforcing steel

Even though steel sections are fabricated in a controlled environment at a plant, the steel members must be connected in the field by iron workers with bolts and/or welding.

Thus, stringent testing is also required for a steel structure. Some of the tests that would have to be considered when erecting steel are the following:
1. Proper bolts are being utilized.
2. Required tightening (torque) of the bolts needs to be accomplished by code standards.
3. Steel sections as indicated on the approved shop drawings are in fact being installed.
4. Welds have to be checked for proper thickness and continuity.
5. All welders have to be certified.
6. Shear stud connectors have to be attached to the steel with proper spacing and welds.
7. The steel has to be fireproofed with approved material that will have proper thickness, adhesion, and density.
8. All columns are perfectly aligned (plumbed).
9. Correct steel is being used (i.e., A36).
10. Proper steel camber has been placed on the steel as specified by the consultants.
11. Splice plates must be of the approved thickness.
12. Inspection at the fabricator’s shop would be helpful for checking beam camber and obtaining coupons.

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