Commercial Construction Technology: Steel Framing in the Pacific Northwest

Northwest Partitions (NWP) specializes in premier drywall and framing services and delivers superior final products. 

Using high-quality wall and ceiling construction materials and methods, NWP professionals work hard to put industry-leading expertise and long-term value into each client’s project.

To that end,  Woodinville, Washington-based NWP understands the latest in commercial construction technology and steel framing systems, particularly in the Seattle-area construction industry, providing companies a great opportunity to reduce costs, increase durability and improve project outcomes.

Below is a closer look at the advantages of both construction technology and metal stud framing systems can bring to any project.:

Freemont Office Building by Northwest Partitions
Freemont Office Building by Northwest Partitions

Construction technology

Construction technology is defined as any product, tool, machine, application, or process used during commercial construction to improve project quality, efficiency, or effectiveness.

As an example, recent steel framing product and system innovations used by Northwest Partitions have made framing design and installation much more efficient and improved overall project quality.

Over several decades, and especially the past few years, pioneering advancements in construction materials and methods have made a sizable impact on project timelines, costs, and safety, providing Seattle-area construction firms and project managers the opportunity to adapt, customize and deliver more cost-effective solutions. 

According to the Construction Institute (CII):

“… the adoption of proven technology can improve construction industry productivity by 30-45%, as well as improved material predictability and reliability… other technologies adopted by the industry, such as RFI, wireless, and advanced building technology have all provided industry benefits in quality, productivity, reliability, less rework, and improved inventory management.”

5 Top construction technologies to watch for in 2020 

As the Northwest Partitions team knows, innovation is sweeping across the commercial construction field revolutionizing how projects of all sizes and scopes are designed, managed, and executed throughout each critical phase. 

Below are five of the top new construction technologies to watch for in the coming months and years:

1. Construction drones

Drone technology is rapidly replacing traditional surveillance methods on job sites across the country, eliminating much of the human error that leads to inaccuracies and quickly collecting useful data. While the use of drones may cause legal and contractual concerns, the growing presence of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) on commercial projects demonstrates that this technology is being used more frequently.

Statistics collected by commercial drone software platform, DroneDeploy, revealed “an increase of 239 percent in the adoption of drone technology” by the construction industry in 2018. 

2. Augmented reality

Augmented reality and wearable AR devices are making an impact on the construction industry. AR devices provide contractors and workers a unique but powerful opportunity to analyze plans, data, and site locations without spending hours combing through forms and blueprints. 

AR makes it possible to review design proposals and modify plans quickly and create 3D models that can help improve overall site and architectural planning.

AR has been a staple of video game tech for years, though it has recently emerged as one of the most talked about trends in construction technology. By overlaying one’s physical surroundings with computer-generated info, and presenting it in real time, AR technology promises to create extensive opportunities to improve project efficiency and lifecycle down the road.  

3. Project management software

With an abundance of project management, estimating, and accounting apps widely available,  commercial builders have options for keeping costs down, eliminating redundancies and improving project efficiency. It may be difficult to choose from the thousands of available platforms, project management software offers the ability to tailor solutions to any business or project. Northwest Partitions leverages the Plexxis ERP and mobile app which integrates accounting and project management from office to field.   

4. CAD & BIM

Even though CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and BIM (Building Information Modeling) has been a staple of architecture and construction for quite some time, it has taken off in big ways across the construction industry. As technology advances and more companies turn to 2D and 3D modeling, it is important to incorporate CAD and BIM into the design process to ensure you stay competitive. Here’s a good primer on CAD construction technology and its ongoing, transformative impact on design and processes. 

5. High-tech building materials

While construction software and equipment innovations are moving the industry forward, building material breakthroughs are also beginning to challenge what projects can and will look like in 2020 and beyond. 

With sustainability and cost-cutting bigger priorities than ever, materials like self-repairing concrete, translucent wood and eco-friendly brick are making their way into the mix, providing alternatives that may reshape the industry for the foreseeable future.

Other construction material innovations with the potential to make waves include:

Behind-the-scenes work done on the Sea-Tac International Airport North Satellite scaffold by Northwest Partitions
Behind-the-scenes work done on the Sea-Tac International Airport North Satellite scaffold by Northwest Partitions

After exploring several of the top construction technologies available today, below is a look at steel framing systems and their value as a top wall construction technology:

Steel framing

Steel framing is a type of framing system commonly used to support the interior and exterior walls of a residential or commercial construction project. Made from sheet steel and assembled using metal stud members, metal stud framing systems are available in a number of lengths, sizes, and thicknesses. These variables make metal stud framing one of the most versatile framing options on the market. 

Steel framing tends to go hand-in-hand with gypsum wallboard installation, though many drywall subcontractors only focus on one approach. This often means that builders have to work with two or more contractors to finish a wall and ceiling project. Fortunately, companies like Northwest Partitions specialize in both framing and drywall, which can help minimize project costs and expedite completion.   

Types of steel framing

When it comes to commercial wall and ceiling construction, the types of steel framing that provide the most reliable project outcomes include:

  • Cold formed metal framing, and
  • Light gauge metal framing

1. Cold formed metal framing

Primarily designed for exterior wall applications, cold formed metal framing offers an effective steel framing system for a variety of building projects.  Derived from sheet steel, cold formed metal framing is noncombustible and capable of withstanding the elements and provides a high-level of durability and quality. 

Cold formed metal framing is available in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses, making this in-demand framing option a highly flexible choice for loadbearing and non-loadbearing applications. 

According to the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA), “Cold-formed steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any building system, resulting in a lighter structural frame that can carry the same building loads.  Lighter buildings allow the designer to reduce the mass at the foundation, cutting costs for concrete, formwork, and equipment.”

2. Light gauge metal framing 

Light gauge metal framing systems are versatile and reliable, providing a long-lasting option for interior framing installation. Much like its cold-formed counterpart, light gauge metal framing solutions are designed to withstand strict tolerances and are noncombustible, ensuring greater staying power than alternative framing options.

Light gauge systems are also in ample supply and pre-punched for electrical and mechanical systems. They come with a variety of metal stud members that deliver significant design flexibility and provide installers the ability to easily build custom curved elements. This helps reduce project time and costs. o

“Light gauge steel frames are extensively used in commercial and residential buildings for structural support,” says a recent market report on light gauge steel framing. “Recent technological improvements have enabled the use of such lightweight frames in commercial buildings with more than three floors. The adoption is expected to increase substantially over the next eight years owing to improved material strength, refined manufacturing processes, and increasing awareness about its economic advantages.”

Top steel framing systems

As a leading commercial drywall and framing contractor in greater Seattle, Northwest Partitions is well-versed in the top steel framing products and construction technology available across the steel framing market.

Some of the more notable framing products and manufacturers include:

Note: Northwest Partitions maintains long-term relationships with local metal framing suppliers and manufacturers that allow the company to purchase steel framing components at the lowest prices possible. Such relationships have also made NWP a preferred customer, ensuring access to framing materials even during supply shortages. 

Northwest Partitions: your preferred drywall and steel framing contractor

As Western Washington’s drywall and metal stud framing leader, Northwest Partitions works hard to deliver the superior-quality construction materials, service, and results needed to complete any construction project on time and on budget.

Whether the project is in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, or Olympia, NWP provides the gypsum wallboard and framing construction technology that adds durability and value to building for years to come. 

At NWP, delivering quality commercial construction is not a goal, but the very standard that defines who we are and how we operate. 

Learn more by calling (425) 375-2500.

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