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Trends in Structural & Offshore Steel Grades

Durable and versatile, structural steel is widely used in the construction of bridges, buildings, stadiums, and other structures, and demand for structural steel components is growing. The same can be said for offshore steel demand, thanks to China’s continued increase in marine development. In 2019, the structural steel market size exceeded US$285 billion globally, and it’s estimated that it will grow at more than 7.5% CAGR by 2026.

Whether we consider structural or offshore steel grades, we find that the fabrication and erection of the various components can be expensive, challenging, and time-consuming. This is especially true for large-scale or complex projects. As a result, contractors and civil engineers continually look for new trends that can improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of structural and offshore steel fabrication and erection methods.

Take a closer look at some of the most significant trends in offshore and structural steel grades.

Improved Strength and Toughness for Offshore Steel

Using high-strength and ultra-high-strength offshore steel can reduce the self-weight of offshore platform structures and increase the platform’s variable load and self-sustainability, as well as the ratio of total displacement to the structure’s self-weight.

While domestic offshore platforms are usually concentrated below the E550 level, foreign similar products are usually concentrated above the E690 level – and their usage is much greater than the domestic level. As the demand for the same series of E and F-grade steel places increases, we expect to see high-strength, high-toughness offshore steel grades among the key varieties to be developed in the coming years.

Development of low-cost, high-value products

The proportion of high-strength steel used in welded offshore platforms is as high as 60-90%. It’s possible to reduce the construction costs of offshore platforms by reducing the design of high-strength steel alloy. The existing high-strength offshore steel grade 690 in China uses a significant amount of precious alloying elements such as Ni and Mo. The design concept of Mn/C-substituted Ni can be realised if the alloy design is used, which will greatly reduce costs. Mn is a strong austenite stabilising element which costs between 1/5 and 1/20 of Ni.

High-Mn steel boasts superior strength, plasticity, and low-temperature toughness, which makes it able to solve the problems of low-temperature toughness and the high-yield ratio of 690 MPa ultrahigh strength steel for offshore steel structures. Thanks to these factors, this trend in grades of steel can meet the construction costs and safety requirements of ultra-high-strength steel for deep-sea and polar offshore platforms in the coming years.

3D Modelling & BIM

The use of 3D modelling and building information modelling (BIM) is one of the most significant trends in structural steel grades in the UK. Using these tools, fabricators and civil engineers can create accurate, detailed digital models of the structural steel components, and to communicate and coordinate with other project stakeholders.

Additionally, these tools can help optimise various processes such as design, fabrication, and erection. Plus, they can enhance integration and collaboration, enable better inspections and quality control, and reduce errors as well as the need to re-do work.

Offsite Fabrication & Modularisation

Offsite fabrication and modularisation are another trend in structural steel grades which is growing in popularity. This trend sees structural steel components manufactured in a controlled factory environment before being transported and assembled onsite.

This trend offers various benefits. Among them are improved productivity, enhanced fabrication quality, reduced environmental impact and waste generated by fabrication, reduced site disruption and congestion, and improved safety and security for workers and materials.

Smart Sensors & IOT

The increased use of smart sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices is yet another trend in structural steel grades in the UK. You can use these devices to assist with monitoring and collecting data on diverse aspects of the steel components, such as corrosion, deformation, humidity, strain, temperature, and vibration.

These devices allow data to be transmitted and analysed in real-time via cloud computing and AI platforms. This trend ultimately can play a supportive role in enhancing the durability, maintenance, and performance of steel structures, and it can help you to detect and prevent potential damages or failures.

Automation & Robotics

Another important trend emerging in high-strength structural steel grades is the use of automation and robotics technologies. These technologies can assist with automating potentially hazardous tasks that usually are done manually or with conventional machinery, such as bolting, cutting, drilling, lifting, and welding, especially in confined spaces, at heights, and in other dangerous conditions.

This trend could lead to vast improvements in the accuracy, consistency, and speed of manufacturing and erecting structural steel components. It could also lead to reduced risks and labour costs.

Powerful trends to watch

From changes that could lead to improved strength and toughness to the use of smart sensors and robotics, the offshore and structural steel grade trends covered in this article could revolutionise fabrication and erection processes in the near future. Stay on top of emerging trends by choosing SPS for assured quality when you need steel products or related services.

Posted by Killian Ward
21st June 2023

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