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Best of both worlds: Computer system marries designers and machines

The growth of on-site rollforming has continued unabated, despite the current economic situation. The primary reason contractors choose to become on-site manufacturers is the huge convenience of being in charge of the production and installation cycles. Having total control of both can significantly impact the profitability of a given project.

Also, in recent years, contractors have been able to compete with fixed-base manufacturers on more projects because some suppliers have started offering the machines with a huge battery of engineering tests that meet virtually any specification; in addition, a number of organizations now offer warranties on equipment, along with metal coils. The contractors can sign up with Camas, Wash.- based Underwriters Laboratories Inc., which inspects the machines on a regular basis and certifies the contractor as a UL manufacturer.

 

Better Technology

Metalforming Inc. of Peachtree City, Ga., has introduced a new technology that can increase that competitiveness. The new product is an on-site rollformer based on the concept of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, or CIM, as it is more commonly known. CIM has become the norm in most high-tech manufacturing companies throughout the world. With the CIM process, the flow of information between the designers and the machines producing the parts for the finished product is seamless and controlled by computers. The result is a significant increase in productivity; a significant reduction in errors and rework, leading to a higher quality product; a reduction of head count needed for the process; and thus an overall increase in the profitability of the enterprise.

This new product, called the Quadro Cinco, is the world's first rollformer based on CIM technology; it combines the rollforming process with computer-integrated notching and cutting. The name "Cinco" stands for Computer Integrated Notching and Cutting Operation. This system marries the on-site rollforming production machine directly to roof design and estimating software. It produces finished panels already prenotched for the eaves edge fold and angle-notched and cut for the hip and valley-true CIM production.

 

All of this is made possible by the development of a sophisticated computer control that can download a complete roof plan from TopView estimating software. A key feature of this software is its 3-D capability. This allows editing of the roof plan from "as-drawn" to "as built" dimensions and pitches so that perfectly manufactured parts can be produced to the real roof condition on-site. The control then manages the production process, including:

  • Uncoiling.
  • Parallel notching for the eaves fold.
  • Notching each side in the right place for the correct angle and correct length for hip or valley condition.
  • Roll forming the panel to the correct length.
  • Instructing the operator how to set the angle-cutting device properly; the operator then swings the angle-cutting device in a pre-set arc from the straight cut to the angle cut and back again.

The system completely eliminates the hand-measuring, marking and cutting of the panels. As in all CIM processes, the marriage of computer intelligence to the machine production process reduces error, rework, scrap and installer fatigue, speeding up panel installation, and thus reducing head count and cost. Early users of the system report labor savings of 20 to 30 percent on a typical cut-up architectural metal roof. Bringing CIM to onsite roof panel production greatly improves the contractor's competitiveness against either fixed-base manufacturers or other on-site rollforming manufacturers not using CIM.

Geoff Stone is the founder and president of Metalforming Inc., Peachtree City, Ga. For more information, go to www.metalforming-usa.com.