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A brief guideline to
the welding
processes and
techniques applied
in the fabrication
and erection of the
structural steel for
the Torre Mayor

Ramon S. Fernandez

Pascual Contreras Toro

Ramon Fernandez is Technical
Development Manager for Corey S.A.
de C.V. He is a Civil Engineer from
the Autonomous University of
Guadalajara. Since 1988 he has
been involved in the pioneering
quality assurance project in Mexico
based on ISO9000 standards.
He designed and directed the project
that in 1996 allowed to Corey S.A. de
C.V. became the first fabricator in
Latin America certified in the AISC
Quality Certification Program in the
complex buildings category including
the sophisticated Paint endorsement.
He have developed quality assurance
systems and inspection plans for
some of the most important structural
steel projects in the last 7 years in
Mexico and in projects for Argentina,
Chile, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and
the United States, including the
inspection processes based on
FEMA requirements used for the
fabrication of columns for the new
International terminal of the San
Francisco Airport.
Since 1991 he has been involved in
the research and teaching of
alternative NDT procedures, welding
processes, metallurgy, fabrication
automation, and software
Ramon Fernandez is an ASNT Level
III Certified NDT Inspector, AWS CWI
Welding inspector and ISO9000
Quality System certified Auditor.

Pascual Contreras Toro in the
Welding Processes Development
Chief for Corey S.A. de C.V.
He is a Professional Mechanical
Technician from the Polytechnic
Institute of the University of
He has been involved in welding
processes for more than 28 years.
He specialized in welding processed
in La Rochelle France.
He was the Quality Control Manager
for Concarril (the Mexican fabricator
of subway wagons) and District
Manager for Hobart.
He has been involved for more than
18 years in the research and
teaching of alternative welding
processes and techniques including
welding automation, production and
maintenance welding.

The Torre Mayor Building represents
a major milestone in the construction
industry history of Mexico.

Large, heavy and thick elements,
complex connections and geometry
and the most strict requirements in
the industry for quality and safety
implies challenges to whom welding
processes cannot be absent

The accumulated knowledge learned
in the Mexico City, Northridge and
Kobe earthquakes about seismic
behavior of welded connections is
incorporated in the development of
this project.

The 1985 earthquake in Mexico City
and its aftermath of damages implied
radical modifications to local
construction codes in the city. Torre
mayor is the first project of this
magnitude developed since this new
construction code is enforced.

In this paper we describe the welding
processes developed to fabricate and
erect the structural steel for this
project and how proper selection of
welding equipment, consumables
and joint design can help to keep
project advance on schedule.

Less than 4 miles from the original
site where the capital of the Aztec
empire was established, in an small
island within a lake where they found
an eagle devouring a serpent, our
crew and staff is erecting and welding
the tallest building in Latin America in
conditions where only eagles dare to

Figure 1. Actual stage of construction as in late March, 2002.
Welding THE TOWER:
A brief guideline to the welding processes and techniques
applied in the fabrication and erection of the structural steel for
the Torre Mayor Building.

Ramon Salvador Fernandez Orozco
Pascual Contreras Toro

There are no small numbers when we try to
explain the size and scope of a project like
Torre Mayor.
The building represents an important
milestone in the construction industry in
Mexico. The structural steel comprehends
16,500 metric tons in 57 levels.
Welding consumables for both, shop-
fabrication and field erection, amount a total
tonnage of 258 metric tones (169 metric
tones for shop welding and 89 metric tones
for the field). In erection welding we
estimate that there will be distributed
approximately 45% electrode and 55%
FCAW wire for semiautomatic welding
To have an approximate idea of the
amount of welding wire that will be used
in this project, if we extended all the wire
to form a single unit it accounts for 1.9
times the earth circumference.

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Figure 3
The Torre Mayor structure Wireframe
Figure 2
SMAW electrode tack welding of elements in
site.. Along the project electrode use FCAW

The estimated amount of man-hours devoted to welding, using
SMAW electrode and FCAW wire for the project totals 155,000
men-hours, this is equivalent to a person working for 17.7 years 24
hours a day, 365 days per years.
To have a measure of the advantage of using semiautomatic
processes, we will use a similar analogy to evaluate.
If only SMAW electrode is supposed to be used in the project we
estimate that a total amount of 434,500 men hour is required to
complete the project. This is equivalent to a person working for 49.6
years 24 hours a day, 365 days per years. This is 2.8 times the amount
of time.
More than 45 welding power sources (multi-process, constant voltage, 650 amperes of capacity al 100%
duty cycle) in two shifts are used for shop welding in two shifts. 50 similar power sources are being used
for field welding.
Along many years, and with an increased emphasis since the 1985
earthquake in Mexico City (Reinforced now worldwide as a
consequence of the Northridge and Kobe Earthquakes), the primary
steel sector in Mexico has strengthened its effort in diffusing the
advantages of steel as structural material. But essentially, the
fabrication of structural steel had been using the same procedures
used in the last three decades.
Due to NAFTA and other trade agreements that opened the frontiers
of Mexico to the competition with companies in Canada and in the
Unites States, Mexican structural steel fabricators established contact
with fabricators and suppliers in other countries to evaluate available
new technologies and also provided additional resources to create or
adapt design and fabrication procedures to the Mexican structural
steel market reality. The intention was to offer to the local market

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quality, cost, punctuality in the delivery and safety conditions similar to of any manufacturer worldwide,
and also to initiate export projects.
These tendencies could summarize to:
1. The incorporation of automation processes (Numerical controlled equipment) in the fabrication of steel
structures that formerly were reserved only to other sectors of the industry. Through these equipment it
is possible to obtain the necessary flexibility to manage complex forms in the structure, important
reductions in the execution time and production costs thus as a uniform quality.
2. Use of concurrent engineering structural steel detailing software.
3. Use of the most recent welding technology, processes, equipment and consumables equal to the North
American market.
4. The recognition of the need and advantage of designing welding procedures specifications fitted
specifically to each welding positions, welding environment, availability of welding equipment and the
need of seismic resistance conditions.
5. Development of quality assurance systems in the processes of design, fabrication and erection that
until a few years ago were reserved to other sectors, as the industry of energy generation. (Based on
AISC and ISO9001 Guidelines)
6. Cooperative work with the structural designers to develop connections more efficient to fabricate and
erect at the site.
7. Provide solutions to the increasing demand of safety and reliability from our customers through the
diffusion in the fabrication processes of NDT inspection procedures; reserved in the past to other type
of products.
Elimination of the disadvantages that traditionally have been attributed to structural steel related to the
elevated cost of the maintenance to prevent corrosion and the susceptibility to suffer harmful damages in
the case of fires that have been surpassed in great measure with the advances achieved in the use of new
materials and processes of paint application and fire retardant materials.

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Shop welding is basically performed by the Submerged Arc Welding process (SAW) and Flux Cored Arc
Welding process (FCAW).
For welding fillet welds and flat groove joints SAW process is the most efficient process. The AWS A5.17
EM13K-F7A2 combination of welding wire and electrode is a high deposit (from 15 to 20 kilograms per
hour) with excellent mechanical properties and impact resistance that complies and exceeds the
requirements established for the project.
The electrode of choice for FCAW welding is AWS A5.20 E70T-1, this is a high deposit impact resistant-
excellent mechanical properties electrode. This wire is used with a protection atmosphere of carbon
dioxide (CO
) that provides also a reduced spatter surface easier to clean.
Preheating and interpass temperature are key elements to avoid delayed cracking of welds. Because of the
thickness of materials involved in this project the enforcement of proper care for this conditions are a
priority for all our welding staff and inspectors.

Figure 4.
FCAW Welding of a 102 thick bracing connection plate including a portion of column.
Apropiate weld joint design and procedures allowd us to reduce welding time 71%.

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Figure 5.
A 740 pound per feet W section column for the Torre Mayor in the fitting
area. Thick material (over51 and up to 152 mm) are common in this project.

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Figure 6
Example of complexity of welding connections and the challange of height
Due the complexity of geometry and a
combination of different welding
positions there is no single consumable
solution for field welding.
Low Hydrogen AWS A5.1 E7018
SMAW electrode is always the best
option for field welding restricted
access joints in all positions.
FCAW Wire AWS A5.20 E71T-8 is a
better option to electrode if there is no
the access restriction but the out-of-the-
flat-position condition prevails.
In areas where proper wind protection is
available FCAW Wire AWS A5.20
E71T-1 is an even better option for an
out of the flat position condition due to
an increased deposit rate.
Preheating and interpass temperature
are key elements to avoid delayed
cracking of welds. Because of the
thickness of materials involved in this
project the enforcement of proper care
for this conditions are a priority for all
our welding staff and inspectors.
The picture in the right of this
paragraph shows the human scale
referenced to the size of the connection
and elements involved in this project

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Figure 8. Dimensional inspection of structural elements for the Torre Mayor
Figure 7. - Self-shielded FCAW welding of columns in site.
Note the arrengement of 8stacked welding power sources to provided service to a similiar number of welders.
Near one hundred of this equipment are in use for this project

Dimensional accuracy is one of the
priorities in order to reduce to a
minimum the adjustments required
while a structural element is being
erected. Elements are dimensional
verified along fitting prior to welding
and once the piece is already welded
and finished.
For this project, fabrication and erection
processes incorporate inspection
guidelines requirements including
ultrasonic inspection of 100% of the
complete penetration welds.

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Figure 9 - Corey use the most recent technology in ultrasonic NDE of field welds
The inspection plan for Torre Mayor emphasizes the use of automation. As an example, automatic welding
equipment usage is promoted through the increase of Non Destructive Inspection requirements if manual
welding methods are chosen.
In this project, to have welds in materials with thickness of up to 6 inches is commonplace. This represents
for us the necessity to design alternative ultrasonic inspection methods for partial penetration welds not
covered by AWS-D1.1, which is the standard welded construction code for this project.

Once we have revised the basics of the welding processes involved in this project we can construe some
important facts that can be translated to the execution of similar future projects:
The Torre Mayor is a project with no parallel in the recent history of construction in Mexico, and is a
proof of the cooperation between companies in Canada, The United States and Mexico.
A close collaboration between structural designers, detailers, fabrication and erection personnel and
the welding specialist in the design of connections for the project to simplify both fabrication and
erection which means important savings in time, allocation of resources and, finally, money.

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Figure 9
A mixt (welded-bolted) connection that allows streamline erection while providing the advantages of a welded
As we shown, in this project we are applying the same welding technology available in any world-
class quality company.
Continuous training, supervision, feedback and motivation to the welding crew are a key element for
the success and performance of all welding process.

Chapultepec Tower, Mexico City.
Ahmad Rahimian and Enrique Martinez Romero. 1998 AISC NSCC Proceedings.
Impact of recent developments in non-destructive Inspection and information technology on the
quality assurance of structural steel in Mexico. Guidelines for future action and pending agenda
Ramon S. Fernandez Orozco, 2000 AISC NASCC Proceedings.