Development of steel use for construction

Posted on 02 May 2014

Source: SEAISI
The construction sector is under more pressure due to resources limitation such as land, energy, water, materials and environmental pollution. According to the UN’s 2009 forecasts, population in the world will reach 9.1 billion people by 2050 (>33% increase from 2009), with 70% of the people living in urban areas that year. About 82% of the people lived in ‘less developed regions’ in 2009 and there will be more than doubled the number of people (1.7 billion people) living in the ‘least developed countries’ by 2050. As such, the UN predicted that there will be a need for 170,000 houses to be built per day for the next 40 years.

The construction sector is the largest steel consuming sector in many regions. According to World Steel Association, value of the worldwide construction market is estimated at USD 5.4 trillion. Residential construction market is valued USD 1.8 trillion, one –third of the total market. Meanwhile, ASEAN uses up to 60% of steel for the construction sector.

Steel frame housing has been promoted recently in the world market. There is wide perception that the cost of construction when using steel frame for housing is relatively high in many countries when compared to the traditional way of construction by using brick and concrete. Many companies have started to promote steel frame housing by providing solution services to customers. According to the Steel Construction Institute, by using composite beams for building, steel weight could be reduced by 30-50% and they can also improve vibration and fire resistance for buildings. The construction can be done faster with 20-30% reduction in construction time compared to site-intensive construction. Site management costs would also reduce by 20-30% which leads to 3-4% saving in overall building cost. Moreover, using steel frame building allows more flexible use of space and foundation of the building.

China, which is having an over capacity problem, also promotes value added into steel in order to drive more consumption for steel. By having steel structure industry, there will be not only lower cost of production, less time consuming in construction industry but there will also be less wastage of steel used in the sector, which means there will be less iron ore consumption within the country. For example, the 30-floor Changsha Yuandakejian Building in China was installed within 15 days and opened for occupancy within 48 days. It has 9 anti-seismic degrees, saves five times the energy (93% of the factory is completed and produces 1% building garbage). Waveform plate welds H-shaped steel is used to replace hot rolling or welding H-shaped steel, which can save 30-40% of steel.

In ASEAN, NatSteel Holdings has promoted complete building solutions by providing cut and bend facility and using prefabricated building components at the construction sites. According to NatSteel, the production has 20% higher productivity and 50% lesser manpower. This also helps to reduce material wastage, free up space and improve site safety. For example, the construction of Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 2 saved S$3,050,000 from lesser construction time, S$152,650 from material wastage reduction and S$670,557 from manpower reduction.

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