An Australian structural steel fabricator, Cullen Steel, was established back in the 1930s. The company has a long history in providing quality fabricated steelwork to the building and mining industries throughout Australia.
Today, managing director Ron Barrington states that the company is driven by a commitment to deliver exactly what the client has ordered. “Our clients can hand us a job and not worry about it, because they know we’ll look after it,” Barrington promises. In the competitive steel fabrication market this promise might just be what it takes to make the difference.
Productivity through high level of automation
Cullen Steel has been a Tekla user for more than a decade. The company originally chose Tekla products because it appreciated the high level of automation. Benefits that lead to increased productivity continue to be the most important advantage for Cullen Steel.
Pioneer in competing with automated processes
Australia imports a fair amount of steel from abroad, a lot of it comes from low labor cost countries. To compete in the tough market Cullen Steel relies on quality information, automation and delivering exactly what the client has ordered. “We are driven, first and last, by productivity gains. The thing we achieve is smarter, faster, high quality, error-free, and on time fabrication,” states Barrington. “Up until about 12 months ago we had a total throughput of around 4-5,000 tons per year. We are currently hitting a lot closer to 8-10,000 tons per year. This has generally been as a result of a fair bit of investment in automation.”
Their latest addition was a Zeman SBA (Steel Beam Assembler) which has brought Cullen Steel another step closer to far greater efficiency. Zeman is a global steel construction group based in Austria. Zeman’s offering ranges from complex steel constructions to machine and plant construction. The Zeman portfolio also includes the execution of construction work, manufacturing and assembly as well as logistics and software solutions. Although the high degree of automation has shortened production times, accuracy is the most important advantage. A machine just does not make errors. “A wrong part cannot be placed in the wrong position,” explains Barrington. “It just is not possible with the Zeman system. The results impresses our customers which then creates more orders. The Zeman system has been a real advantage for us.”
From model information to assembly
Tekla’s quality information output supports fabrication automation throughout the process. “We do not use Tekla primarily just for shop drawings. In fact, shop drawings are increasingly becoming redundant in our workshop.” So how does model information from Tekla transfer to the Zeman machinery? “Tekla outputs NC files both for shafts and parts but also outputs individual XML files for each assembly. Scanners utilize the NC file to identify the parts are correct and the XML file is used to locate components in the assembly. The Zeman software marries all this data together - quite a complicated feat,” Barrington explains.
Quality information supports fabrication automation
“Firstly, we use Tekla to drive the shop detailing process. With the use of BIM we communicate better with others involved in the project. Secondly, we use Tekla to assist in the operation of various pieces of equipment in the workshop, including the Zeman,” Barrington says. “Thirdly, Tekla is used to help manage the fabrication process, including painting and dispatch of the structure in a logical and timely manner. And lastly, to assist in the correct and logical erection sequence of the final structure.”