How DIY steel framing can save builders $1M annually


Author: Rob Siganto

Light gauge steel framing is playing an increasing role in the ever competitive construction industry. Amidst the constant pressure of tight margins, many businesses such as builders, timber frame manufacturers and structural steel fabricators are asking:

“Will it pay off if we do light gauge steel framing ourselves?”

The answer is “Yes, but not always.” So what’s the best way to find a definitive answer for your company?

This article firstly shows what you need to consider. It then goes on to outline how Scottsdale‘s fabrication system and business model can be easily implemented to have you operating profitably within 90 days.

The 5 key pillars of a DIY steel frame fabrication business

To shift your business towards, or grow it with, LGS framing fabrication, you’ll need:

  • a solid evaluation of your current business and future possibilities
  • high performance, economically priced roll forming machines
  • smart, user-friendly software
  • plenty of training, know-how and support as you start up your operation
  • ongoing service and support that is always available and keeps costs under control.

Business fit: Is starting my own steel framing operation a viable opportunity?

Just like any building project, before starting out on a DIY LGS framing path you’ll need to do some assessment and planning first. Self evaluation is an important first step so you should ask questions like:

  • What type of business am I in now?
  • How experienced am I and my partners/staff?
  • What is the size of the market in my target area?
  • How many homes/frames per year am I currently doing and/or how many do I anticipate doing going forward?

You then need someone who won’t just sell you the machines and software without helping you make a sharper evaluation.

When you book a call or appointment with Scottsdale, we not only discuss with you further on the above questions, but with our special calculator tool we take you through line by line — income and expenditure — to show what the estimated capital expenditure, profit and ROI looks like for your circumstances.

If it’s not right for you, that’ll be clear to both of us.

As the calculator is based on our decades of business know-how and management experience, you’ll quickly find out if it’s a green light. And from there, we’ll give you a copy of the calculator so you can play around with different scenarios to come to the best possible decision. We do better when you’re winning.

Business example — builder takes steel frame and truss production in-house

If you’re a builder working at the equivalent scale of 12 houses per month, having your own machines can save you over AUD$1,000,000 per annum on frame and truss supply.

Plus, you’ll also find:

  • Your machine’s spare capacity can fabricate extra profit from other, smaller builders.
  • If there’s a problem on site such as a design adjustment due to an error by another contractor, you can make the required changes more easily, economically and quickly.
  • You can produce when you want; no worries about supplier errors or waiting your turn when they are busy.

Roll forming machines and software engineered for profit

If the assessment process shows the opportunity is ripe, you then need to choose the right machines. Our consultation with you continues so you select the right options depending on:

  • your needs
  • the type of construction you’re doing
  • your business plan.

Scottsdale’s range of machines is designed to balance capability and cost for varying circumstances. They’re built for operational performance; not weighed down by superfluous extra features. Our machines are also easier, and more economical, to operate.

Software is needed to design panels and trusses from architectural drawings, perform engineering analysis on every single component, and roll out precise machine instructions for production. Scottsdale’s proprietary software reduces this traditional multi-step fabrication process down to one, seamless, integrated solution, saving time and expense. Our software has two main, interconnected aspects:

  • ScotSteel (design and engineering)
  • ScotRF (machine control).

This also includes unlimited software licences and twice-yearly updates.

Get going: Start-up training and operational know-how in steel framing

Having the machinery and software is great but at Scottsdale we recognise the pressing need to get you up and running and into the profit zone ASAP. We’re passionate about sharing our set up systems and operational know-how with new customers. We do this in two main ways:

1. Machine/Software commissioning and training

We work closely with you to customise your training/commissioning program, so you can produce commercial volumes straight up. This involves:

  • Training and staffing — We help you make the most of our innovations via one-on-one software training (7 days) and factory commissioning (2 days). This is undertaken at your own location, though you may do some of the program remotely. As well as training your people, we can even help you find them in the first place, if required, or put you in touch with contractors versed in our design and engineering software.
  • Factory Layout Requirements — We understand optimal arrangement of sites for efficient floor spacing, storage of stock, assembly etc. This includes:
    • planning for optimal factory layout, either for single or multiple machine operations
    • crew efficiency models: whether 1, 2 or 3 staff is better operationally
    • instruction in our rivet system that negates the need to flip frames, saving handling time and floor space
    • what tools and accessories you need.

2. Business operating systems

We help set you up with an operating plan, including ready-to-go business systems, benchmarks and KPIs. Part of the business systems we provide are tools and templates for the following aspects of operations:

  • Estimating
  • Scheduling
  • Design
  • Fabrication
  • Transport
  • Installation.

You have further opportunities to gain a first-hand understanding of the systems, processes, workflow and logistics of the Scottsdale system with factory visits. Via the following options:

  • In Brisbane Australia, we arrange your visit to a high volume, low overhead production plant at AFS (15+ machines), and a smaller site such as Elite Framing (2–4 machines), plus job sites to see various installation and construction methods.
  • You can visit fellow fabricators closer to you. Many of our customers are happy to help newcomers learn the ropes. Wherever you are, we can put you in touch with them.

Fixed Price Support

Once you’re set up and into production, you’ll need the reassurance of professional help, at hand, whenever required. You’ll also need a service and support package tailored to your individual business circumstances.

With our fixed price support plans, you’ll be better able to budget annual operating expenses and capitalise the upfront cost as much as possible. No matter how many times you need us, it’s all covered.

Our incentive is to keep you operating as efficiently as possible, providing you always with:

  • unlimited service and support (calls, emails, online RFS)
  • machine service and maintenance
  • business operations support
  • Knowledge Base, including video-on-demand training
  • unlimited software licenses*
  • software updates every April and October
  • design and detailing support
  • 24/7 worldwide request for service
  • response within 24 hours.

*Unlimited software licensing means you don’t have extra costs for taking on additional detailers or new computers.

It’s important that your service option suits your business. Once again, we can sit down and work through the figures so you can make the best choice for a service package that keeps everything on track.

Get in touch about DIY steel frame fabrication

Scottsdale has made it easier than ever to get started in steel framing, and once up and running, we have your back every step of the way. Our onboarding support leads the way in helping new businesses establish profitable steel framing operations, in the shortest amount of time, with rapid return on investment. Find out how we can do this for you.

To learn about Scottsdale Steel Framing Solutions   Enquire now
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