DIS-TRAN Steel Blog

Structural Detailing and Where It's Heading

Posted by Brooke Barone on Mar 28, 2013 10:18:00 AM

Structural detailing is headed in a new direction, and this time, it’s three dimensional.

Although 3D Modeling isn’t something new, it has taken many years to develop and reach a level that is making it not only practical to use in the industrial environment, but cost efficient and self-checking. The learning curve is steep, but it’s not impossible.

It’s no secret that erectors and fabricators are frustrated with way the steel detailing industry is going, and chalk it up to the generational differences.  It’s pretty much inevitable that there is always going to be a generational gap, especially when you throw technology into the mix.

structural detailing

These technical advances in plant machinery are a major factor in lessening the need for detailers to be as critical with dimensioning as in the past.  Steel detailers are beginning to believe the fabricators do not need dimensions to fabricate the steel if CNC and DXF files are supplied.  Many dimensions, which were supplied in the past, are now left off the drawings.  While it may be true that the fabricator can fabricate the steel without the “old-style” dimensioning, they do however need the dimensions to check the accuracy of the output from the machinery.  Great scrutiny must be taken when using “out-of-the-box” modeling software.

It will take time and training, both in the classroom and on the job, for a person to get proficient with the new technology that is here now and will be coming in the future. But no matter if you’re using a drafting table, Ames Lettering Guide or the best computer and software system out there, the bottom line remains the same: a good profit margin with the least amount of time required and the least amount of mistakes. 3D Modeling can make this happen.

Benefits of 3D Modeling:

1.       Increase efficiency

2.       Reduce errors

3.       Improve schedules

4.       More economical

It’s going to take a couple of years to get things working properly with 3D Modeling, since  3D detailing software was not created specifically for the utility industry.  Some of the biggest obstacles of converting to 3D are the amount of time to get model structures and the lack of standard structures across the utility industry.  Each type of structure will have to be modeled and constrained properly to see significant gains in the output of details.  Unless the utility industry standardizes across the country, the modeling process will be prolonged. 

To get today’s generation excited and interested in this profession, the “wow factor” has to be there. This 3D Modeling is going to pull in a whole new chapter of talented young people who have grown up with computers and video games, and understand the concepts, sometimes better than the older generation. The talent is there, so the next question is how to tap into that pool.

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Tags: utility industry, Structural detailing, 3D Modeling, 3D detailing, detailing, fabricators, plant machinery, modeling software

Wood Structures: Still in the Game or Ancient History?

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jan 18, 2013 2:04:00 PM

While many say “Out with the old and in with the new,” this might be true for hairstyles, tube socks or shag carpet, but with over 130 million wood utility structures across America that are still in service today, this is simply not the case.

Wood utility structures have an undeniable reputation for being reliable, versatile and cost-effective.Wood distribution and transmission structures remain highly preferred in the utility industry due to their ease of construction, climbability and design flexibility.

Wood Transmission Structures

Reliability Wood transmission structures have higher Basic Insulating Levels (BIL), which can help reduce lightning flashovers, cutting down on power outages.

Cost-effective With economical initial costs and low overall life cycle costs, wood can directly reduce the impact of operating expenses.

Safety Since wood transmission structures have been around for decades, utilities and lineman are very familiar with proper use and handling of the products.

Why use wood transmission structures?

  1. Lower cost
  2. Long and proven service life
  3. Adaptable to many different applications
  4. Easy to handle and store the structures
  5. Natural flexibility providing  high performance under load
  6. Can be easily modified in the field
  7. Can be supplied quickly in times of crisis

trans pic green

The general standards that wood transmission structures must meet include ANSI, RUS, NESC, WCLIB and AWPA. And just like steel, concrete and other materials, there are countless configurations for wood transmission structures. 

Just to name a few, there are:

  • Single Pole with Traditional Crossarms
  • Wishbone Structures
  • Two Pole H-Frame Structures
  • Multi-Pole H-Frame Structures

trans 2 green

When considering which manufacturer to choose, you might want to consider their history in the supply of products in the utility market, the location and number of facilities, in-house design capacity, access to raw materials and available inventory for standard items, especially when time is critical. All of these factors could make or break your recovery response when natural disasters strike.

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Tags: utility industry, wood distribution crossarms, wood crossarms, utilities, transmission, wood crossarm, wood transmission structures, wishbone structures, H-Frame structures, wood structures

DIS-TRAN Wood Products; A Proven Commodity

Posted by Brooke Barone on Sep 21, 2012 1:39:00 PM

 describe the imageWith shorter lead times than our competitors, DIS-TRAN Wood Products, LLC has been   providing distribution crossarms, ground molding and wood transmission arm assemblies that  include arms, braces and hardware to the utility industry for over 45 years.

With two separate locations in Pineville, LA and Vancouver, WA, DIS-TRAN Wood is available to customers from coast to coast for quick lead times, as well as an even quicker response for storm restoration.

Through Columbia Vista Corporation, DIS-TRAN Wood plant facilities in Pineville and Vancouver have both been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, COC# SW-COdescribe the imageC-00244, and have made a commitment to the environment to improving forest management.  We are also the only certified environmentally friendly “green” wood products supplier.

Wood is a regenerative source, and the longevity and reliability ensures a consistently reputable product for the utility industry.

Benefits of having two locations:

  • More opportunities to efficiently serve the entire country
  • Allows redundancy if there are issues such as weather or fire in one geographical location
  • With two avenues to get to job sites, allows for an enhance volume of materials during times of crisis.
  • Not so dependent on one workforce or single location
  • Enables flexibility
  • Expand or retract, even if the weather event is in the gulf or Pacific northwest, ability to serve customers that are not affected

Benefits of using wood:

  • Renewable resource
  • Shorter lead times
  • Proven commodity; has been around since before the turn of the century
  • Forgiving product; can shape, nail and drill into it, and can modify as needed in the field with little difficulty
  • Cost-competitive
  • Easy to install
  • Capable to be processed with alternate technology that allow it to be more environmentally friendly
  • Easy to transport and cost-effective to unload and store

To learn more and stay up-to-date with the latest at DIS-TRAN Wood Products click on the button below.

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Tags: utility industry, DIS-TRAN Wood Products, Columbia Vista Corporation, distribution corssarms, ground molding, wood tranmission arm assemblies, FSC

More than just Standard Steel Poles...

Posted by Brooke Barone on Sep 20, 2012 9:07:00 AM

Aerial view of our plant in Pineville, LAIt’s always hard when you’re first starting out and trying to establish yourself and your company, but with perseverance and an appetite for success, growth is inevitable.

In the beginning, DIS-TRAN only manufactured standard shape steel structures; however, we were always in need of steel poles. We established a great relationship with a company here in Louisiana who we purchased our steel poles from until a larger company came in and bought them out and shut their plant down. This forced us to reach out to other companies across the country.

Right around this time, in the late 90’s, cell phones were rapidly catching on and cellular towers were going up everywhere. Contractors were purchasing tons of steel pole capacities, so it became very hard for us to get service. One of the problems that we ran into was that we would ship the structural steel out to a site, but then have to wait a month or so for the steel poles to arrive. We all know how that story ended-with unhappy customers.

So, in 1995, DIS-TRAN decided to open up its own steel pole shop and dabble into the market. With only 12 employees in the beginning, it was a huge learning curve, but as the industry grew and became more advanced, so did DIS-TRAN.

DIS-TRAN Steel Pole and DIS-TRAN Steel Fabrication were two separate companies at first, but after we realized we were doubling our internal workload, we decided to merge the two in 2010 to become what is now DIS-TRAN Steel, LLC. In 2006, DIS-TRAN Steel Pole and DIS-TRAN Steel Fab had 149 employees total, and now, six years later, DIS-TRAN Steel has more than doubled that number to 321.

Over the years, we’ve realized that there are some misconceptions about the capabilities of DIS-TRAN Steel since we initially started off just manufacturing steel structures. But we can also design, detail, fabricate and deliver tapered tubular steel structures for the utility industry. 

Our engineering and detailing capabilities allow DIS-TRAN Steel to pursue and be involved in highly technical design projects. With 18 in-house detailers and 10 engineers, including 4 Licensed Professional Engineers (P.E.), we can design any steel structure for the utility industry, whereas some of our competitors require shop-ready drawings.

Whether they are pre-engineered poles, engineered transmission poles or taper tubular substation structures, DIS-TRAN Steel can fabricate it. As one of our guys says, we can design steel structures with as little information as a stick figure on a napkin to fully-detailed drawings because of our in-house expertise and resources.

The investment we have made in our employees goes hand-in-hand with the investment that we have made at our plant, with 4 expansions in 16 years. Customers are always surprised when they tour our plant in Pineville, LA because of how large and advanced it really is. It’s not just this little fabrication shop tucked away in the swamps.

Our state-of-the-art facility is just as large as any other steel fabricating facility in the U.S., sitting on about 60 acres with 300,000 square feet under roof manufacturing space. Some of our most prized possessions at our plant include a fully automated 2500 ton, 60 foot Press Brake with a one-of-a-kind automation software package that our plant operators actually helped design. We also have in-house high definition plasma cutters, robotic welding systems, CNC controlled seam welders and CNC punches for standard shapes.

Something that also surprises many is that we can also supply wood transmission arm assemblies and distribution crossarms through our sister company DIS-TRAN Wood Products, LLC. DIS-TRAN Wood Products has two fabricating facilities, one in Pineville and the other in Vancouver, WA.

Throughout the years, DIS-TRAN has made the investment to meet the demands of the growing industry, and has made sure to keep up as the elite supplier, consistently providing the highest quality products.

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Tags: steel structures, utility industry, wood transmission assemblies, DIS-TRAN Steel, tapered tubular steel poles, DIS-TRAN Wood Products, wood distribution poles, pre-engineered poles, transmission poles, standard shape steel structures

Distinguishing the DIS-TRAN Difference

Posted by Brooke Barone on Sep 14, 2012 11:25:00 AM

Aerial view of Crest Industries, LLC including DIS-TRAN Steel, DIS-TRAN Wood Products, DIS-TRAN Packaged Substations, BETA. It’s funny how things change. When we’re young and impressionable, we want to blend right in with the rest of our camouflaged peers. But once we survive high school and stretch our arms out, we realize blending in is not all that it’s cracked up to be. We want to be different.

Being different is the quality of not being the same as another, it’s being distinct. So, maybe DIS-TRAN Steel is not the largest company per say, but we pride ourselves on doing the very best at what we do, distinguishing the DIS-TRAN Difference…Experience.

Experience is key in building trustworthy, reliable relationships. We all can agree that if we go out to eat and the server is not attentive, rude or gets the order wrong, we’re unlikely to return again or recommend the restaurant to a friend.

The distinction between DIS-TRAN Steel and others is: quality, high-performance products, proposals and customer service designed for your needs; responsiveness, prompt attention to all of your project needs, storm restoration, single point of contact and critical lead times; flexibility, to meet your needs with timely production schedules, change in structure or tight lead times and creativity, professional assistance, solution finding and more productive providers for your individual projects.

In the business for over 45 years, DIS-TRAN Steel has worked closely with an array of companies around the country in the utility industry, honing our skills to create a memorable experience that keeps our customers confident to hire us again and again.

So what all does this mean for you?

On Time, On Budget, Solid Integrity, Superior Quality

  • ON TIME Being timely, no matter what the industry, is vital. And living in the fast-paced world that we do today, we want instant gratification. The capacity in our shop allows us to efficiently fabricate large projects and also expedite schedules on small and medium size projects when lead times are critical. Expedited delivery dates are available on those projects where in-service date is more important than cost. DIS-TRAN has provided steel projects where the delivery window seemed impossible to make, but with hard-working and dedicated employees, we are able to produce lead times to seemingly impossible delivery dates.
  • ON BUDGET If you have ever done business with DIS-TRAN, then you know we aren’t always the lowest bidder. But you also know that the outstanding quality of our products makes every penny well worth it. Think about when you’re purchasing something that you know you’ll only wear a few times out of the year. You’re not likely to spend the extra dollars to ensure that is it sustainable and durable. But when you’re looking for something you can wear all-year-round, you don’t mind spending more because you know it’s an investment. Ah, the magic word.
  • SOLID INTEGRITY Now you know we would be lying if we said we never make mistakes, but the difference is that we take immediate and aggressive actions to find a solution, no questions asked. Having integrity allows us not to be too proud to admit when we mess up. And honesty builds trust, allowing relationships to grow. When DIS-TRAN designs your project, you can count on it being to the exact specifications you have requested, with no alterations that aren’t approved by the customer. DIS-TRAN promises date specific schedules and delivers no less. When we say it will be there, you can count on us to have your steel as promised.
  • SUPERIOR QUALITY Every project stamped with DIS-TRAN’s approval is at or above industry standards. We don’t just build things to build things; we take pride in every project we complete. Getting it right the first time is our policy, and to ensure that, we have internal quality insurance inspectors who examine the project at each different stage, all the way until the finished product. This added value is just one of the reasons our customers return. When they rely on DIS-TRAN to execute a project, they know that the experience and quality can’t be beat.

Every company vouches their number one priority is customer service, but as DIS-TRAN Steel’s President, Donnie Roberts, says, “We walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

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Tags: utility industry, DIS-TRAN Steel, storm restoration, quality, flexibility, relationships

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