The design document is the medium by which the architect/engineer communicates to the steel detailer (and other trades) the locations, sizes, stresses, and other requirements of every piece of steel in the project. If any of the information is missing, incomplete, or erroneous, the steel detailer has been spoken to in incomplete sentences. The detailer will then misunderstand the intent, misinterpret the meaning, or be unsure how to proceed. Communication is the key to all we do. To do their job, steel detailers require complete, checked, coordinated, design drawings, especially principal controlling dimensions and geometry. We rely on the designers to develop plans, sections, views, and details, which fully describe and illustrate the desired end product. Designers must assist the detailer as much as possible in connection development and should design moment, special, and heavy connections on the design drawings. If the fabricator or erector elect to make a change to the designed connection, they will have a frame of reference to discuss this with the engineer. It must be remembered that steel detailers produce shop drawings; this is the service they are trained for, and this is what they are paid for. Most steel detailers do not have the time, the financial resources, the legal authority, or the insurance to check or to complete design drawings or to do connection design. Steel detailers are totally dependent on the design team to communicate to them the data required to permit the successful completion of the project.
Just as architects and engineers use design documents to communicate with the steel detailer, the shop drawings and the approval process are methods the detailer uses to communicate with the reviewing agency or the engineer of record. Shop drawings must be checked to assure that all project requirements, codes, and specifications have been met. If the detailer fails to provide all the necessary information, the designers will be delayed and may require resubmittal of the drawings -- a delay and added expense to all parties involved, including the project owner.
The AISC Code of Standard Practice addresses the design requirements on the part of the engineering profession. Adherence to this code is a first step in successful communication with the Steel Detailer. Additionally, the NISD Steel In Schedule Driven Projects are excellent sources of reference for detailers and Industry Standard publication and the AISC publication Working With Structural designers alike.