The Advantage of Efficiency

A plate-processing system that speeds production gives DenCol a competitive advantage.
Originally published on Modern Metals website by Julie Sammarco

May 2011 – DenCol prides itself on being able to reduce the time and costs associated with clients’ projects. Doing so requires using state-of-the-art equipment and staying ahead of the competition.

The Denver-based company has been using a high-speed FDB plate-processing system since February 2009. “It gives me a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” says DeWayne Deck, DenCol president and owner. “There is not another one in our market, and people rely on us for our drilled cut plates, so this is really making our business grow.” The plate-processing capabilities made a significant difference in the company’s business throughout the recession. “Given the recent recession, had I not had a niche market in plate processing, I [wouldn’t be] talking to you today,” says Deck.
high-speed FDB plate-processing system
The largest locally owned general-line steel service center in the Rocky Mountain region, DenCol offers customers a selection of carbon, alloy and stainless steel plate, sheet, bars, structurals, tubing, fasteners and ornamental iron. The company works closely with clients to eliminate processing steps and streamline orders to reduce costs.

“Because I’m using the [HSFDB] machine, I can process more now. I’m able to get more off the machine on a given day. This machine can be two to three times faster than my old one. And because it’s a faster system, I get more business because customers know I can get it to them quicker than most other places,” says Deck.

The HSFDB can process an average of 1 ton per hour of plate up to 15 millimeters thick and an average of 2 tons per hour of plate thicker than 15 millimeters. Material capacities for the system range from a minimum thickness of 6 millimeters up to a maximum thickness of 75 millimeters. The minimum width is 150 millimeters, and maximum widths are available in 1,800 millimeters, 2,500 millimeters or 3,200 millimeters. The machine’s capabilities include drilling, tapping, countersinking, plasma or oxy-fuel cutting, marking and milling.

“One of the nice things about this machine is it’ll run with thicknesses from a 1/4 inch all the way up to 3 inches [and] up to 96 inches wide. So you can buy a plate and slap it on the machine and you’re in business,” says Lyle Menke, vice president of marketing at Peddinghaus Corp., a Bradley, Ill.-based provider of machine tool technology for structural steel and plate fabrication. “And the price is competitive to any other plate or burning machine that’s on the market today.”

Process Efficiency
Because the HSFDB system combines multiple technologies into one machine, it can help streamline processes for companies while keeping a smaller footprint on the facility floor, Menke notes. He says multiple sectors can benefit from using the HSFDB system, including manufacturers, agriculture manufacturers, structural steel fabricators, steel service centers and any other industry that’s in business cutting parts.

Typical burn tables require plate processors to burn a shape out, then lift the part with a crane, magnet or by hand, stack it and move it to a different machine to make the necessary holes. After this, the part would move to another area for finishing.

The HSFDB system, however, places the part on the empty conveyor, which usually is located outside of the building. The machine processes the part and creates holes. Holes can be tapped, rolled, countersunk and cut into any shape or form. Then the parts get dropped onto a conveyor that takes them to their proper location, eliminating the amount of time and labor required for this process.

“You’re drilling your holes much faster. When it comes to any kind of conversion, time is money. We’re able to get things done quicker,” says Deck. “It’s definitely a more efficient machine, it also changes the tools quickly. The drilling has vastly improved.”

Ultimately, the HSFDB machine eliminates eight or nine processing steps, says Menke. The plate-processing system is roughly twice as efficient as regular burn table technology, he notes. Additionally, the machine requires minimal floor space compared to burn tables.

Decreased levels of scrap also help companies save costs and improve efficiency. The machine’s common cut line and edge-start cut line cutting allows for scrap as low as 4 percent to 5 percent in common plates, according to Peddinghaus.

Menke says customers use materials more efficiently because of the decreased amount of scrap produced with the HSFDB. “Before, you had a skeleton. Under our design, you can use a common cut line where you can cut those parts out automatically and you can nest them together so you can use the same cut line to separate two or three parts. Plate is very expensive now, so by eliminating your scrap ratio, you can save some money,” he says.

Considering the savings in scrap, the cost of plate and raw steel and the cost of processing plate, Peddinghaus states service centers can save more than $600,000 annually with the HSFDB machine.

Deck agrees: “My Peddinghaus plate processors have made me buckets of money. They work so well, so efficiently and so profitably that my entire operation is focused around them.”

A Single Operator
The HSFDB plate-processing system requires a single operator to load, process and unload parts, while a burn table may require an operator and two material handlers to add and remove material continuously.

The equipment can be automated completely and controlled by the operator via cross transfers and conveyors. The conveyor feature allows for easier, safer and faster production. Unloading options for the HSFDB system include a steel track front unloading system and a side unloading system.

Automation helps reduce worker injuries, including those to the hand and back that can develop because of material handling and increasing production speed. Fewer operators also can reduce costs for a company, which can employ fewer workers overall or use existing workers for other jobs.

One operator can load the machine, process the parts and monitor it, says Menke. “With a burn table, you need a minimum of two or three people to do the same amount of work,” he says. “Instead of using three people to do one job, you only need one. You can use the other two to do other things in the company.”

Deck feels the plate-processing system has been beneficial for his company. This equipment stands out because of how quickly and efficiently it processes plate. “I think this is the best product I’ve ever bought from them,” he says, noting he also has other machines from Peddinghaus. MM