An online technical information system for the steel construction industry
STEELBIZ is an on-line information system designed to improve the performance of the European steel construction industry. It provides engineers with technical information, design guides, building regulations, case studies and, for broadband users, voiceover Continuing Professional Development (CPD) lectures.
The STEELBIZ project is led by the UK-based Steel Construction Institute (SCI) which represents some 600 SME members in 30 countries. In the last 15 years it has produced nearly 200 publications which, if brought together in paper form, would produce a book several metres thick. Now all that technical information is available on line at www.steelbiz.org
“STEELBIZ is designed to help engineers work faster and smarter,” says Dr Graham Owens, SCI’s Director. “It is as simple to use as an Internet search engine and it is designed to be fully integrated with a company’s intranet.”
The search function is critical, to enable steel specialists rather than IT experts to find what they need quickly and easily. “You can free search on a word or phrase and specify if you are looking for technical information or products and services,” explains Owens.
“We kept the IT simple, using tried and tested systems, and concentrated on the content,” Dr Owens explains. “Creating the content was expert intensive – it involved the mark up and manipulation of more than 300,000 pages of archived text by experts in their fields, so that users could have access to relevant knowledge instantly, wherever they happen to be working in the world.”
In practical terms this means that steel designers and engineers can check building regulations, access plans for structures, for example curved steel for arches, review site installation of light steel framing or seek advice from over 40 highly qualified steel construction specialists at the Institute.
The French and Swedish partners in the STEELBIZ project are now adapting and expanding the SCI model for their own markets. Jacques Brozzetti, Deputy General Manager of the French partner, CTICM, says “STEELBIZ offers on line information to our steel construction industry and a new means of communication for this sector. It gives access to European sources of information which will assist in the marketing of products and with the assimilation of Eurocodes.”
“Eurocodes” are harmonised European standards which, for the steel industry, will be piloted in 2003 and are scheduled to be implemented by 2008. Steel giant Arcelor, which produces 13 million tonnes of steel per year, is already monitoring STEELBIZ closely with a view to its helping specify best practice implementation of the Eurocodes for steel construction.
The partners in STEELBIZ are all SMEs and they relied heavily on EUREKA to complete this project. As Dr Owens says, “without EUREKA, STEELBIZ just wouldn’t have happened – it helped us get essential funding and give steel a key position in construction IT.”
Nicola Vatthauer | alfa