Over the last two decades, many advancements have occurred in the production of shop drawings due to advancements in computer technology. The developments in computer-aided drafting and building informational modeling (BIM) have impacted how shop drawings in structural steel, reinforcing steel and other trades are produced.
Computer-based 3D modeling has impacted constructability issues and improved communication among the major players in the overall construction process. Based on interviews conducted with a select group of fabricators, contractors and engineers, the author concludes that shop drawings produced using 2D and 3D computer software is a positive step toward improving constructability.
Just as the design, drafting, fabrication, and construction practices vary from company to company based on the size of the company, and the types of civil works they are involved in, so does the practice of production of shop drawings.
Each fabricator has to develop their own 3D model from 2D drawings which is contrary to what the architects do, that is developing 2D drawings from a 3D model. Issues of risk, legality, and responsibility come into play, and seemingly easy solutions are difficult to achieve.
The accuracy and precision of shop drawings is vital to the success or failure of an engineering project. The contractor is responsible for production of shop drawings and is required to review the shop drawings before transmitting them to the architect/engineer. The Architect/engineer is not obligated to review any shop drawing unless it has been reviewed by the contractor. This is also done to weed out the submittals that are seriously missing significant information, or do not agree with the contractors means and methods.
With the advancement of computer-aided drafting and 3D modeling technologies, and electronic submittals and review processes, positive steps have been taken to enhance the overall process of shop drawings. In the long run, if all the parties involved in the process can share their data and their 3D models so that all parties can work off of the same data base, it will immensely improve the accuracy and quality of the shop drawings.