Is Your Shop Ready for Automated Duct Fabrication?

IPI Elbow MachineThe craft of sheet metal working has been done for generations, many of the processes learned as a trade from early youth. The perfection of the trade often required years of training. It was (and still is) a craft that demanded precision and accuracy. Each project was timely, and took effort to complete. As time has gone on, however, many sheet metal processes have become simpler, requiring less time spent training, as they are often automated by a machine.

Automation of machines has eliminated the need for a lot of labor to be  involved with the sheet metal working process. Previously done by hand, many metal forming processes can now be done more quickly, more accurately, and with fewer workers. The return on investment, on coil lines like The Pro-Fabriduct has proven to enhance duct shops by reducing the costs associated with their production.

Mestek Machinery has witnessed this change. According to our research- approximately 60 percent of the commercial duct made in the U.S. is produced on automated coil lines as opposed to flat sheets of light-gauge metal. While, this is a huge percentage of shops that have improved their processes via automation, it still means about 2 out of 5 shops are not utilizing the benefits that come along with automating their processes. There are obviously some organizations who are hesitant to change from the processes they are familiar with. Automation has effects on business that are often times beneficial, but can eliminate a lot of labor costs within the organization. In some cases, this can mean that employee hours are cut or jobs are eliminated all together. This can obviously create a resistance to automation, as shop workers fear losing their jobs.

For small shops, automation may not be considered as valuable. They may be producing smaller amounts of duct work, orders that take little time. Installers who make their own residential duct often make duct on an as needed basis for projects. Still, there are options for machinery that improve the processes for even these low-volume producers. Mestek Machinery’s Pro-Ductomatic is one of those solutions, and we offer a ROI calculator for those considering what their return on investment would actually be.

This article, written by SNIPS editor Michael McConnell, with perspective from industry experts, expands on the ideas discussed above and outlines the benefits that automation has on a sheet metal working shop. If you are considering adding automation to your metal forming processes, or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.


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