Metal Fabrication and Automation

Sheet metal fabrication is a valuable production technique for turning sheet metal into functional parts or objects. Unlike other manufacturing techniques, sheet metal fabrication is unique as the process is composed of many different processes, each of which manipulates the metal in a different way. The process may involve cutting, bending, welding, shaping or joining different pieces of metal together. Shops, contractors and workers have long wanted ways to simplify the way to eliminate the back-and-forth guesswork out of manufacturing and streamline the process. Enter automation.

Revolutionizing the metal fabrication industry by saving time, money and materials cost

By Chandler Barden

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Streamlined Approach

Over the past few years, every industry has been pushed into adapting to different types of shortages. From shortened supply of raw material, semiconductor, containers, labor shortages and even face-to-face interaction, companies have learned to adapt. In metal fabrication, though, one shortage that will stay is the labor shortage. The pool of candidates willing to operate machinery for metal fabrication is on low supply and does not show signs of growing despite the demand. In comes automation. We don’t automate to eliminate qualified workers, but more importantly to solve the issue of creating a streamlined approach as an alternative to limiting workers.

Automation has been around in heavier industrial sheet metal fabrication businesses but has been slow to adopt in architectural sheet metal companies. The issue arises due to low quantities of the same exact part and higher levels of custom parts with metal trims and custom wall panels. With an eye on developing automation trends that would flow into the architectural industry over the long term, a bigger focus was put on R&D and creating solutions through implementing automation into machinery and developing software to enable this automation.

Automation Growth

Now the metal fabricating industry in architectural metals is quickly jumping on the automation train. Companies large and small are investing into automating architectural trim- and panel-forming processes to stay in front of the labor shortage and offer competitive advantages. Automated lines may seem like a dauting implementation, however automated software platforms were created to make the transition smooth and most importantly fast. The solution derived from market research, surveys and testing. Products were built and customized for customers, so they can streamline their order processing and production systems. Different levels of automation systems were put together at different entry levels depending on the size of a customer and what is important for their growth. A more advanced line can start at a coil farm feeding automated slitting cut to length, through a punching process and then forming the customer parts desired.

Fully automated fabrication is not the only automated solution. Automation can look different for different companies. The point is that, while there is an initial cost to it, it’s a fixed cost and after that, the supply your automation provides is yours to utilize and grow with. From storage, cutting, bending and automating, the flow of these machines is revolutionizing the metal fabrication industry by allowing you to saving time, money and materials cost; all while increasing precisions, quality and results.

Chandler Barden is president of CIDAN Machinery Group, Peachtree City, Ga. To learn more, call (770) 692-7230 or go to

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