Steel applications in construction sector

Posted on 28 January 2016

Source: SEAISI
Construction sector is the largest steel consuming sector in ASEAN-6 countries, accounting for more than 70% of total steel usage in the region. Construction technology has been developed for faster technique, stronger and safer building and for better cost effectiveness.

Construction in ASEAN is still a labor-intensive industry that relies heavily on human work, especially in cheap-labor cost countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. However, some countries in the region have adopted smarter construction methods such as industrial building system, steel structure building design, pre-engineering building system etc.  
Reinforced concrete is one of the most common building materials for many construction projects in ASEAN, such as residential houses, high-rise condominiums, commercial buildings, industrial structures and infrastructures. With this construction method, reinforcing steel bar and wire mesh are mostly used for main structure components. Although demand for these steel products continues to surge in line with the increase of construction activities in the region, local steel producers have lost their market share to cheap imports from other countries. Nevertheless, steel companies continue to develop their products to provide better solutions for the construction sector. High strength steel is one of the value add steel applications which benefits the construction sector. High strength steel reinforcement grade 600, for example, helps the contractors to reduce total steel usage in tonnage by up to 25%, compared to the commonly used grade 460 reinforcing steel.

The adoption of high strength steel in construction helps to increase room space in the building since structural component size is smaller. This also helps to improve construction productivity and cost effectiveness as it requires less formwork, less manpower and is less time consuming. Apart from this, it also helps to reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainability of the building.

Some countries in ASEAN have also developed steel structural system in the construction sector, such as manufacturing buildings, warehouses, flex buildings (combination of manufacturing and warehouses). Steel structure has special characteristics, which benefits many aspects of construction. Due to its high ductility and toughness, it helps to ease and increase flexibility of structure designs, is adaptable for building modification, enhances speed of construction, is environmental friendly, has consistency in quality and, moreover, is available in the market.

Similar to Grade 600 used in reinforced concrete, the application of high strength ASTM A572 steels in the steel structural system would reduce total steel weight in construction, produce less CO2 emissions and improve workplace safety. This is because of its lighter structure/steel frames.

The development of steel applications in construction sector in Taiwan is a good example. Taiwan has created a special standard requirement for steel used in high-rise building at earthquake area, for example, SN400YB/YC, SN490YB/YC, SM570M-CHW, SM570-B, HT690 and so on.

China Steel Corporation has developed SM570M-CHW which complies to seismic resistant requirements, for example, higher yield strength, low yield ratio (< 0.80) and high value of the reduction of area in z-direction. For steel structure building construction, normally box section is used as the column to resist biaxial force while H section is used as the beam. The most common connection system in Special Moment Resisting Frame in Taiwan is Reduced Beam Section (RBS) and the combination of Special Moment Resisting Frame (SMRF) system and Buckling Restrained Brace (BRB) system is getting popular for high-rise buildings construction.

Not only for building construction, steel is also a popular construction material for infrastructure like bridges. Steel bridge is adopted due to faster construction period and the lighter weight of the structure. It can apply to different types of bridges like curved bridge, long span bridge, cable-stayed bridge, arch bridge, long span box girder bridge, rigid frame and truss bridge.

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