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Civil Engineering/Difference between light, medium and heavy steel.


Dear Arshad Khan,

Whats the difference between light, medium and heavy structural steel? I work in a EPC company and there is a lot of talk about different structural members classified into different steel types. Field labour rates are different for each steel type too.


Hi Mike,

I am not an expert in this particular subject but logically this would mean large size (say more than 10-12 inches) I-beams and H-columns for the heavy sections and small (say 2-6 inches)cold-formed Z-purlins, L-shaped angles, C-shaped channels and rectangular hollow sections for the lighter steel. Medium would be in between.

Field labour costs are usually applied per unit of steel weight and heavier sections can be handled and erected at a much lower manhour per kilogram (or lb) rate, hence the differential between these and the lighter sections.

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Arshad Khan


I can answer any questions to do with civil and structural engineering consultancy and construction industry in East Africa and the Middle East, and specifically with the analysis and design of reinforced concrete structures. My particular expertise is in the aseismic design and optimisation of tall buildings.


Employment history: 40 years in Construction and consultancy in the UK, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Somalia, Zambia, Austria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Doha and the U.A.E.

.Fellow of Institution of Structural Engineers (UK) .Fellow of Institution of Civil Engineers(UK) .Member of the Institution of Engineers, Kenya .Registered Engineer, ERB, Kenya .Member of the Architectural Association of Kenya (Engineers Chapter) .Chartered Engineer (UK)

•1984: International Conference on the Art and Practice of Structural Design, London •1994: 3rd Int. Kerensky Conference in Structural Engineering, Singapore •2008: International Conference on High-Rise Towers, Abu Dhabi •2013: IEK International Conference, Kisumu, Kenya

BSc, 1st Class Hons, in Building Engineering, University of Bath, UK MSc in Concrete Structures and Technology, University of London. Diploma of Imperial College, UK.

Awards and Honors
•Science Congress Special Award (for 2-seater Hovercraft - 1968) •Institution of Civil Engineers Award for outstanding performance at Bath University (1975) •Concrete Society Postgraduate study Bursary Award (1976) •Consular Representative for British High Commission, Nairobi. (1995 to 1998) •Examiner for Institution of Civil Engineers Professional Interviews, Nairobi. (1997 to 1998) •Branch Representative in Vienna for PI assessment for Inst. of Struct. Engrs. (1999 to 2010)

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