Guest Post: The Basics of Roll Forming Processing

Today’s post is courtesy of John Hamlin

The roll forming process uses a set of rollers placed strategically to perform incremental bending by feeding long strips of metal continuously. It is a process used to convert long strips of metal into various cross-sections or shapes. The process is performed by sets of mated rollers that change the form until the desired cross-section or shape is attained. This forming process is primarily focused on the cross-section of the metal or material. In some cases, the thickness of the material is being reduced.

Roll formed products do not only have a a high demand on material handling industries, they are also all around us, and below are some of the industries that also use these products:

  • Energy and power industries
  • Construction
  • Industrial
  • Agricultural
  • Transportation/Automotive
  • Other fabricated metal manufacturers

Roll Forming Process Fundamental Steps

  1. Decoiling – This is a process of unwinding and cutting metal from its primary coil. Typically, after the decoiling process, the metal is directly fed to a flattener or a machine that flexes/flattens the metal before proceeding to the next procedure.
  2. Pre-press treatment – This is an intermediate process prior to roll forming proper. It involves a flattened metal piece that undergoes press treatment to add slots, holes, or slits, depending on the product desired.
  3. Roll forming – This is a process by which a roll forming machine progressively shapes the material. The roll forming machine bends the metal using a set of mated rollers to guide the long strip of metal to make the desired bends.
  4. Cut off and discharge process – Subsequent to the roll forming process, the material will undergo a cut-off process, where the material is cut to the desired length while it is in motion. After the cutting process, the material will be discharged to a run-out table to be placed for shipment or undergo another process.

Roll Forming Secondary processes

The whole roll forming process can be either completed as the part comes off the discharge process or completed in other stations.

Secondary processing may include:

  • Punching
  • Tight tolerance forming and straightening
  • Adding other components
  • Minor assembly of parts

Metals Used in Roll Forming

Roll forming is capable of shaping any ferrous or non-ferrous metals. There are variations in the adjustment on the roll forming process’s bending stage, since there are different characteristics of metals, such as ductility and strength. These properties will indicate the amount of force needed to shape the metal.

Another characteristic of metal that should be considered in the roll forming process is the yield point, wherein every metal has its own critical value. A material’s yield point is where the material begins to change its shape permanently.

list of metals commonly used in the roll forming process

Ferrous metals:

Ferrous metals are mainly composed of iron. Ferrous metal can be easily recycled and are rust-resistant.

  • Steel – This material is an alloy of iron and a relatively small percentage of carbon. It contains less than 2% of carbon to improve its strength and fracture resistance. It also contains small amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, and manganese. Steel can be easily recycled, which is why it is one of the most commonly used types of metal.
  • Stainless Steel – This roll forming material is an alloy of iron with a high percentage of chromium. Stainless steel typically consists of 10-20% chromium. This type of material is very useful because of its high malleability and its corrosion resistance.
  • Galvanized Steel – This material is a heat-treated metal coated with zinc. It has high corrosion resistance due to its zinc coating.

Non-ferrous metals:

Non-ferrous metals have no iron content and have higher corrosion resistance compared to ferrous materials.

  • Aluminum – Aluminum is a very suitable material in the roll forming process because it is malleable, lightweight, and easily formed.
  • Brass – Brass is a copper and zinc alloy and has high machinability, high malleability, and is wear-resistance.
  • Copper – Copper has high electrical conductivity and has a low chemical reactivity.
  • Lead – Lead is very soft, with high malleability, high ductility, and has very poor electrical conductivity. Because of its high density, lead is capable of absorbing vibrations.

Key Takeaways

Roll forming is indeed one of the fastest and most cost effective methods of producing sheet metal products of any length with accurate tolerances and dimensions. It is used by many industries due to its versatility where complex and intricate cross sections can easily be produced using ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Crank-Out Cantilever Rack Project for Arrow Gear

Crankout Cantilever RackingOn this project, SJF’s Solutions Specialist Jason Deiter worked closely with customer Arrow Gear and Rack Engineering to provide a crank-out solution that would free up floor space, utilize vertical space with the ability to retrieve from individual compartments, and organize inventory.

Units have four crank out levels with 5,600 lb. capacity per arm, plus a 20,000 lb. capacity fixed top for additional storage. Compartments are 14″ in height and use 24″ length arms.

For more information on crank out cantilever racking, contact Jason Deiter at SJF at (320) 485-4961 or email him at jdeiter@sjf.com. He’ll be able to answer any questions you may have and help plan for your needs!

Guest Post: Top 5 Steps to any Equipment Maintenance Program

Top 5 Steps to Any Equipment Maintenance Program

Today’s post is courtesy of Megan R. Nichols

Material handling equipment is an investment. Industrial companies purchase more than 150,000 forklifts each year, but the upfront price is only part of their overall cost. Ongoing maintenance to extend the life and increase the efficiency of your production is also an essential investment.

The longevity of your material handling equipment depends on how well you execute your maintenance plan. Breakdowns and unexpected expenses lower your productivity and decrease return on investment. To help keep your operations running smoothly, here five ways to extend the life of your material handling equipment.

1. Invest in Workforce Training

By hiring a top-quality workforce and training your employees adequately, you’ll be better prepared to maintain and extend your equipment’s useful life.

This process starts by verifying and recording any training and certifications. Improper use will lead to unnecessary wear and tear and a quicker end-of-life for the equipment. Further, as 42% of forklift-related fatalities are the result of tipping vehicles, workplace training is essential to proper use and employee safety. Even if inadequate training or maintenance doesn’t result in injury, it will lead to unnecessary equipment wear. Ensure your employees are vetted and trained by supervisors when working with heavy equipment.

To train your employees on your machinery and any changes to operation protocol, you should provide simple, regular updates concerning operations and safety. Plan to talk to your workers about equipment operations on a schedule, such as every month or every quarter.

Then, managers should supervise equipment operators daily to ensure they follow best practices as defined during training. Address any improper use immediately and provide easily accessible manuals for all equipment operators. Well-trained and managed employees are less likely to abuse the equipment.

2. Conduct Equipment Inspections

The more you know about the many forms of wear on your equipment, the sooner you can respond to issues and establish a smart maintenance schedule. Ensure your employees and supervisors are familiar with manufacturer specifications, and report anything out of the ordinary during a regular equipment inspection.

Early identification of problems, such as signs of wear or age, will allow you to repair or replace a part before it causes an avoidable delay. To do so, visually inspect your material handling equipment before, during and after use. Have regular operators record changes in performance. Check for vibrating belts and gears, high temperatures from poor lubrication or loose bolts. Repair or replace any parts issue that arises before it affects efficiency. Recognizing symptoms early will avoid costly emergency repairs.

3. Understand Your Equipment

By knowing the specifications of your equipment — such as model, brand and machine specifications — you can predict future maintenance needs.

Understanding how your equipment operates is vital to achieving a long service life. Each brand and model may have different instructions and maintenance requirements. Incorporate the specifics from your original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The specifications they provide will ensure you are following the appropriate schedules.

Further, consult your OEM manual or equipment expert to ensure you have the correct parts when making repairs. Depending on the specific machine and part, you may need to follow detailed instructions to avoid harming your equipment. A small inaccuracy can be the cause of a costly failure. Keeping track of parts in regular need of maintenance or replacement will also help you keep track of when maintenance or a replacement is due.

4. Keep Accurate Records

Plan for efficiency by recording data about your material handling equipment. Accurate records will give you a plethora of information so you can respond to needs immediately and effectively.

One of the most useful types of data is the data you collect from your inspection routine. Categorize what needs to be done immediately and what you can defer to the future. Information can include hours of operation, type of work being completed and details about ongoing repairs. This data will help you develop a preventative maintenance schedule.

You also have access to information from employees, supervisors, the OEM and experts in equipment maintenance. Record this information in a clear, easy-to-follow way to develop your plan of action.

5. Develop an Effective Maintenance Schedule

Create a system for your material handling equipment’s maintenance. Planning for preventative and predictive maintenance will extend your machines’ useful life.

Scheduling regular downtown for your equipment will increase the value it provides over the long term, so ongoing inspections and service is crucial. Depending on factors such as truck type, the volume of work and the work conditions, you may plan for service intervals as frequent as every 90 days. You can plan this maintenance during non-peak production times by using a preventative schedule.

It may also be beneficial to consult an expert on specific equipment, since professionals are particularly trained to handle maintenance and repairs for your machine model and parts.

Consulting experts knowledgeable on the make and model, as well as implementing any protocols recommended by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) will help you develop an effective system for planning inspections and predictive maintenance. With a predictive maintenance plan, you can calculate your equipment life and better retrofit machinery with the latest technology when most cost-effective.

Save Time and Money With Proper Equipment Care

Effective equipment management and maintenance is one of the most significant ways you can cut costs and increase your workforce’s productivity. By implementing a maintenance schedule, understanding your machines’ inner workings and following the other tips outlined above, you can stretch the usefulness of these costly machines to its fullest.

Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer who specializes in industrial and scientific topics. She regularly contributes to sites like American Machinist, Manufacturing Transformation and Industry Today. Megan also publishes weekly on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by following her on Twitter or subscribing to her blog.

Guest Post: 4 Reasons Material Handling Needs Automation and How to Implement It

Today’s post is courtesy of Megan R. Nichols

When it comes to the supply chain, the most visible processes and events aren’t necessarily the only areas that should be modernized and improved upon. The so-called first-mile is just as important as the last, even though consumers may never see or hear what it entails. Collectively, every mile plays a role in the performance and efficiency of manufacturing and wholesale operations.

By streamlining the entire lineup, it improves the speed, quality and accuracy of all products and services. One of the best ways to make that happen is to deploy automated systems and equipment, including advanced robotics. These solutions never tire, burn out or falter — so long as they are maintained well, quite unlike human laborers.

Beyond the basics, there are several reasons why automation should be used in material handling and manufacturing environments.

Why Use Automation?

1. A Smarter, Connected Environment

Whether you’re talking about manufacturing processes directly, the handling of finished goods or distribution closer to the last mile, all these practices could benefit from more data-driven operations.

Implementing IoT and connected technologies earlier on can also help eliminate what’s known as the islands of automation within a facility. Most older machines and solutions operate in a siloed nature, separate from other components within a factory or facility. Automation and the resulting systems can help do away with this entirely, creating a more synchronous environment.

2. On-Demand Manufacturing and Services

In today’s hyper-fast and hyper-personalized environment, most customers and clients expect a degree of convenience, which can be difficult to provide in material handling and processing fields. To achieve this, the entire system needs to be optimized from start to finish. Queue advanced automation.

The connected nature of the autonomous factor also generates the on-demand concept for internal processes. Materials can be delivered exactly where they need to be, not just on time but in advance. This is done through a series of data-driven systems that send alerts and control various operations as necessary.

3. Predictive Modeling and Decision-Making

Near the start of the supply chain, performance and support directly rely on market trends. If a particular supply or raw material is low, it can affect everyone, including the delivery times of various components and goods. With automation and advanced analytics systems, this kind of problem can be eliminated, largely through predictive modeling.

A machine learning or AI system will essentially ingest data on a company’s history, performance, market trends and consumer demands. It will then build an accurate model of what’s to come or how things will play out, allowing for more informed decisions. This can be evolved to include automation systems for a larger efficiency boost.

If a certain raw material is becoming more scarce, the automated system can order more in anticipation of a major shortage. During the shortfall, the system can calculate the length of time to receive new supplies as well as the current stock to ensure operations run smoothly. Items arrive just before old ones run out.

4. Better Workforce Management

Rather than waste human expertise on rote and tedious tasks, projects can be automated through a series of systems including IoT, AI and advanced robotics. Personnel can then be assigned to higher-value tasks that better meet their talents. This has the added effect of boosting employee happiness, as workers will certainly enjoy the more important roles and responsibilities.

Moreover, labor shortages and high turnover rates become a problem of the past, with many of the tasks and opportunities that were hard to fill now handled by automation.

How to Implement Automation and Streamline Materials Handling

1. Research

The best place to start is by doing some research. Consider the available vendors and their reputation, as well as what kind of solutions they offer. What will you need to upgrade in your existing systems and solutions? Is there anything that can be carried over?

How long will it take to implement the full scope of the automation project? Most importantly, how long will it be until you recover the initial investment and turn a profit?

Also, consider the systems that will be automated. It’s much more than just digital tools and components. Pallet inverters, for example, can be used to automate the handling of pallet-based goods and have a load capacity of about 4,400 lbs.

Another way to automate your warehouse is to invest in, and maintain, conveyor belts. Not only do conveyors keep employees safe by minimizing the amount of heavy lifting they need to do, they could be optimized in the near future. Adding sensors to conveyor rollers will allow businesses to gather important data like, product weight, amount and quality.

Is there equipment that you can use to automate more conventional procedures, similar to the pallet inverter or conveyor belt examples?

2. Vendor Selection

Once those questions are answered and you understand what’s necessary to achieve automation, it’s time to start shopping around for vendors. What solutions can they offer and what comes included? How are system updates handled? What’s the support process like? Are there real-time consulting opportunities at the ready?

You may even want to consult with a vendor’s existing clients to get a feel for how satisfied they are. Did the company meet their needs? Were there complications and have all their concerns been addressed?

The research process seems involved and can be daunting, but it’s necessary before getting involved with any automation providers or vendors.

3. Prepare Your Team

Next, you’ll need to prepare your workforce. This means training them and building awareness about the new systems, technologies and processes. Don’t forget to consult with them where applicable, as many workers have direct insight as to the inner workings of supply chain operations.

Ultimately, companywide buy-in will ensure the adoption process goes smoothly, and it will help mitigate the usual problems you might see when adopting new procedures.

4. Deployment

All that’s left is to deploy the necessary technology’s processes and solutions. Implementation can be a lot more complex than expected, however, so it’s always best to consult with support agencies and vendors. The exact approach is going to vary from business to business, which is why most of this explanation will seem broad.

The trick is to start small and slow. Choose one or two major processes that can be automated and work on perfecting those systems before moving on to other areas of the business.

With perseverance, the bulk of your materials handling operations will be automated, resulting in many cost- and time-saving benefits.

Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer who specializes in industrial and scientific topics. She regularly contributes to sites like American Machinist, Manufacturing Transformation and Industry Today. Megan also publishes weekly on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by following her on Twitter or subscribing to her blog.

Who you buy it from is often more important than who made it

Pallet rack, like the majority of material handling equipment, is available from several quality manufacturers in the United States. The question of what to buy is normally fairly straightforward. The real question is, who you buy it from to get the best possible deal in terms of price, delivery and support. There are several options.

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Auction Buying Secrets – 7 Rookie Mistakes You Should Never Ever Make

So it’s your first auction and the place is full of people and excitement. The auctioneer is barking out bids, numbers and prices. People all around you are bidding on an item like it’s a long-lost childhood toy. You notice that some item you have just seen in the store sold for a fraction of the store price. A second item comes up and it goes for yet another great bargain. You think, “Wow, this seems like a pretty easy way to get things dirt cheap. Maybe I should bid and get in on the action. How hard can it be anyway…right?”

Wrong!

While great buys can be had at auctions, the opposite is also true. Getting stuck with something that isn’t what you thought it was can (and more often than not, does) happen. Below are some pro tips that you can use to avoid costly mistakes. Following the tips will save you a lot of grief and expense and give you the tools you need to bid like the pros.

#1 – Hidden costs

While auctions provide a means for anyone to find a bargain, it’s important to keep in mind many of the hidden costs often associated with auction buying.

Buyer’s Premium/Commissions

Most, if not all auctions have what is called a buyer’s premium. This is an additional fee that is put on all items sold at an auction. This fee can run anywhere from 10% to 20% of the item’s sell price. This cost is an additional fee that you will be charged for items you buy in addition to the price you bid. Beware – buyer’s premiums can add up very quickly. Auctions can often have different buyer’s premiums for those bidding online and those physically bidding at the auction. Every auction is different so take note of what these costs are and which fees apply to you before you bid.

#2 – Do a detailed inventory and inspection

If I can give you two pieces of advice here – it would be these:

  • Don’t assume all the parts or there.
  • Don’t assume missing parts can be requisitioned or repurchased.

I’ve seen to many rookie bidders thinking they got a great buy only to discover later that the items are no longer in production or the manufacturer is out of business. Do a detailed inspection of items to make sure all necessary items (ie. hardware, parts, controls, manuals etc.) are there. If parts are missing make sure replacements are available and have an idea of what the costs will be to fix, repair or replace what is missing before you bid.

#3 – Taxes & Fees

Depending on the location of the auction, be aware that different states have different rules about what taxes or fees they want you to pay. Some states are nothing some are 6% – 8% or more.

#4 – Remember…there are no “Do-Overs”

What that means is that “What you see is what you get!” and “You buy it, you own it!”

If an item you bid on doesn’t run or isn’t what you thought it was, you have NO RECOURSE later. The auctioneer is not going to give you your money back or allow you to back out of a purchase once you buy it. It is your responsibility to know what it is you are bidding on – NOT the auctioneers. Items purchased thru auctions are inherently sold “as-is, where-is” with no implied guarantee or warrantee.

Caution: Auction bidding is a fast paced game for grown-ups – not victims. At auction, you sign the auction’s terms and agreement paperwork before you are allowed to bid. This agreement is a legally binding contract that says you know what you are doing and what you are bidding on, and you assume all liability to pay for whatever you buy in the condition it is in when you buy it. If you bid on an item thinking it works or runs only to find out later it doesn’t – too bad. In other words – you buy it, you own it.

#5 – Removal Costs

Never forget, unless specifically stated otherwise, everything in an auction is sold “as-is, where-is.” If the equipment you purchased requires dismantling and/or removal, YOU (as its new owner) will be responsible for the disassembly and removal of the item – not the auctioneer or former owner. This can be very expensive.

#6 – Time Costs

Related to removal costs are time costs. There are often very short time frames and/or restraints for removal that you will be responsible to adhere to. Failure to comply with these can result in fines or legal action and even forfeiture of the equipment. The time you have to remove the item can also drastically affect the final sale price you and others may be willing to pay. I have seen time frames for removal that range from the same day as the auction to several weeks or even months. Know when things need to be removed before you bid.

#7 – Transportation

Items to big to move by yourself may require additional people or equipment to move. The auctioneer IS NOT going to do that for you. Don’t bid on items that will require you to hire or requisition additional people unless you know the costs of doing so in advance. With fuel prices on the rise, having to freight items across long distances can be very costly. Again, know and factor in all the costs before you bid.

There you have it – as with any great deal – the devil really is in the details. Please feel free to comment or share other auction tips or tricks in the comments below.

SJF Named One of Minnesota’s “100 Best Companies”

100 Best Companies to Work For in 2018

SJF Material Handling is honored to be named to Minnesota Business Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2018. This is the 4th time SJF has been named to this prestigious list.

Qualifications for the “100 Best” Award From Minnesota Business Magazine

Minnesota is known for being a great place to live and work, with top-notch companies in many industries headquartered here. Each year, these companies submit nominations for the 100 Best Companies to Work For Awards by Minnesota Business magazine. This award recognizes Minnesota’s top companies and, time after time, helps the winners attract key employees who make all the difference.

The “100 Best” were determined by the resulting scores of an anonymous online questionnaire filled out by the employees of each participating company — to determine which companies in Minnesota excel in the areas of work environment, employee benefits, and overall employee happiness, making them the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

SJF will be honored in a celebration awards program and dinner on Thursday, June 28th at JW Marriott in Minneapolis.

Top 5 Things to Double-Check on a Pallet Rack Quote

So you’ve finally gathered the 3 competitive rack quotes that your boss requested a week ago. Now it’s time to sit down and give them a good looking over. While you may be tempted to simply look at the bottom line on each quote, you’ll want to first make sure you’re really getting the best price – not just the lowest.

5 of the most overlooked items on every pallet rack quote after the jump…

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