Equipment

We here at Keymark Enterprises were very pleased to see so many familiar faces, along with a host of new faces, at MetalCon 2014.  Since this was the first time that MetalCon has been held in Denver, we were a little nervous going in.  Would people come?  Would they drop by our booth to see us?  Would they like the products and services that Keymark has to offer?  We are pleased to report that the answers were “yes”, “yes”, and “yes!”

It came as no surprise to us that KeyTruss, our new in-plane truss design, garnered much of the attention.  As expected, MetalCon attendees showed a lot of interest in the substantial savings that KeyTruss can provide on a wide variety of basic truss designs.

metalcon-keytruss-steel-framing

We had a lot of fun demonstrating GS Build, our comprehensive LGS design and engineering software suite.  And customers and prospects alike also took a keen interest our high-volume, computer-driven GSS roll formers.  What really seemed to steal the show, however, is the seamless integration of our software and roll formers.  The appeal of Keymark’s end-to-end LGS solution surpassed even our own expectations!

metalcon-roll-forming-decoiler

Keymark Enterprises wishes to express our deepest gratitude to our partners, our customers, and our newest business acquaintances, for making Metalcon International 2014 such a success!  If you did not get a chance to see our products in person, please contact us today for more information.

There are many different roll-forming machines on the market today.  So, if you are looking to purchase a roll former, which one should you choose?  There are many questions that you may want to ask but, to me, there is one question that rises above all others in importance.  I will get to that question in just a minute.

I have been working with Light Gauge Steel (LGS) for the last 15 years.  In that time, I have worked directly with three different roll-former brands and I have seen, first hand, the functionality of many others.  What I have found is that most LGS roll formers perform the same basic functions.  These functions provide for straight and true framing (tight tolerances), ease of assembly (dimpling, swaging), support trade work (utility holes), and so on.  Of course, there is some variation as companies try to make their mark on the industry.  But, in the end, these basic functions remain much the same.  That said, however, there is one function that is rarely seen in conjunction with roll-former technology great service and support

I have talked with companies experiencing roll-former breakdown that can’t get anyone to answer the phone at the manufacturer.  Others have told me that their machines are outputting wrong lengths and inaccurate punch locations.  Again, these companies have been unable to get anyone from the manufacturer to talk with them, let alone work to resolve their issues.

The bottom line is that roll formers represent a significant investment for your company.  You need to be able to trust that your machine is going to produce “as advertised.”  You need to be able to trust that, when there is a problem, someone will be there to help you solve that problem and get you back into production quickly!

So, what’s the most important question to ask when shopping for a roll former?  To me, that question is, “Will you take care of me?”  It is imperative to ask every conceivable question about how your manufacturer is going to take care of you when problems arise.  The availability and quality of the support you receive is what truly sets suppliers apart from one another.  It will also, most likely, be the biggest determinant of your success.

David Phillips
[email protected]

Purchasing a large piece of machinery like a roll former is a very important decision. Too often, companies pick a roll former based on who has the best marketing material or which is the cheapest, but then they end up regretting that purchase once they get to work and find out it does not meet their needs. Before you make your choice ask yourself these seven questions:
1.  Does the roll former support multiple sizes and gauges to fit my needs?

Know what you are going to build and what the engineering requirements will be. Based on your location and size of structure you will most likely need more than one size or gauge of steel to build all the walls, floors, and trusses. Do a comparison of all the steel will need in a project and see how much will be able to be produced from your roll former. 

2.  Is the roll former built to last?

Roll formers take a lot of wear and tear from both regular use and vibration. Not only does the machine need to last, but so do the moving parts and tools. Take a close look at the quality and durability of the machine and weigh the cost of tool replacement and wear and tear over the years. A less expensive machine may end up costing you more a couple years down the road.    

3.  Is changeover quick and easy?

The best way to reduce the amount of steel that goes into a building is to optimize the sizes and gauges of steel; but only if you have a roll former that can change to a new size or gauge quickly. Time is money and if you are spending too much time adjusting the machine instead of rolling you are not making money.  

4.  How fast is the roll former?

Most roll formers can roll simple shapes fast, but you should be asking "What is the true throughput of the machine - including all the stopping for punches and tools?" Additional punches and tools slow down a machine, but speed up assembly. You need a machine that gives you all the punches and tools you need for efficient assembly and still run at a high speed.  

5.  How versatile are the shapes?

Some steel framing systems only use one shape. This can be an advantage by making the machine and system simple, but it is also very restricting. Single shape systems don't give you the flexibility you need to make field adjustments. 

6.  What kind of trusses does the roll former produce?

Not all trusses are the same. Trusses designed in the weak axis use more steel than trusses designed in the strong axis and are structurally weaker. Investigate the structural requirements you will need for your trusses and see which system can handle those requirements.  

7.  Does the roll former include design and engineering software?

A roll former without software is like a printer without a computer. You could buy a cheap roll former without software and try to find software that might interface to the roll former or manually input all the pieces, but that is a risky proposition. Make sure you look for software that not only engineers, but also designs all the needed components as well as interfaces flawlessly with the machine. A lot of systems are a broken compilation from different companies and not a tested and integrated solution.  
 
Ask these seven questions and do a thorough comparison of roll formers before making a purchase.