The term industrial construction may not sound very sexy, but things change when you understand what’s involved. Some examples of the size and scope of custom steel fabrication for industrial construction may open your eyes a bit. It’s all around us, in buildings, bridges, skyscrapers, stadiums, and a variety of other distinctive structures, so here’s a closer look at custom steel fabrication for industrial construction.
Piecing Things Together
Metal fabrication requires shaping metal, usually steel plate, into various configurations, either by welding or other forms of metal joining processes. Custom Steel Fabrication for industrial construction can be like working with a gigantic “Tinker Toy” set and creating massive pieces, using structural steel. It’s demanding, but this is bread and butter work for industry-leading fabricator, LeJeune Steel Company (LSC).
LeJeune played a key role in construction for the National Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA) in White Sands, New Mexico. LSC fabricated the 48 by 40 foot steel skeleton and main structure for a new gantry – a frame consisting of scaffolding on various levels, used to erect vertically launched rockets and spacecraft. Conditions were challenging, as winds in excess of 40 mph frequently interfered with the welding and grinding process. Work teams had to draw on their heavy structural and engineering expertise, in addition to being on the lookout for dangerous snakes and spiders.
Battling the elements is part of the process for custom steel fabrication for industrial construction. At the Mesabi Nugget project in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, a frigid, open pit was the worksite for the world’s first commercial iron nugget plant. Lejeune Steel Company was on the job. A 33-foot wide, 240-foot diameter, ring-shaped foundation required 500 tons of fabricated, reinforced steel, topped by 4,200 cubic yards of concrete.
LSC did the fabrication work at the IKEA store in Bloomington, Minnesota, near the Mall of American. The Swedish furniture store is something of a big box store with a cavernous interior for storage and display space. The project required precision all the way, as 3,600 tons of steel had to be fabricated in 17 weeks. The shell went up even while designs for the roof framing and wall girts were still being discussed.
Computer Generated Excellence
Working with 3D and 4D computer generated models is a specialty at LeJeune Steel. Bridge projects can be especially tricky, according to LSC project manager Bryan Fanvig. His team worked on the Canadian National Bridge Over Hall’s Creek (near Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada).
“Specialty has its own specific requirements compared to a typical office building fabrication.” There’s more scrutiny and pre-planning in custom steel fabrication, he says, “You use less common materials and welding procedures and also the skill set, attention to detail during fabrication, and assembly of these items is more stringent than typical fabrication.”
Whether you’re talking custom industrial construction or custom specialty work, such as a state-of-the-art stadium, the sheer volume of steel used on a project can be a huge challenge. LSC project manager, Rick Torborg says there are two major priorities, “The most important thing is that the tolerances and the quality of fabrication are right.”
According to the history books, steel was used to erect a building for the first time in Chicago in 1885. Steel framed buildings have been the undisputed choice from that point forward, and with LSC leading the way, custom steel fabrication for industrial construction is still going strong.
For more than 70 years, LeJeune Steel has been an industry leader in steel fabrication. Since 1944, we have grown to become one of the largest structural steel fabricators in the Midwest, with more than 40,000 tons of steel fabricated annually by our shops in Minnesota and Wisconsin.