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Published by the SCS Producer Group - Issue 29, July 2008
Large Contract Fabricator Solves Problems, Saves $s by Switching to SCS

       July 2008 Contents

          Large Contract Fabricator Solves
          Problems, Saves $s With SCS

         SCS Fabrication Guidelines
          Make For A Good Read

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Nancy Shadrix was growing ever more curious about the welded tube sample that had been sitting on her desk for the past six months. A steel supplier had brought it in claiming the material would cure her company’s frequent problems with rust on tubes, but in her 20 years as Manager of Purchasing for Tie Down Engineering (TDE) Nancy had heard more than her share of tall tales from sales reps.

Nancy Shadrix and Chase MacKarvich of Tied Down Engineering

Still, after six months of frequent handling that tube looked nearly perfect, with no signs of the rust she expected to develop on uncoated hot rolled. Shadrix decided to really test the tube’s rust resistance – cutting it into shorter sections and placing some outside where they’d be exposed to the weather, while having others painted and subjected to salt spray corrosion testing.

She learned that salesman had been telling the truth – SCS tube seemed practically impervious to rust!

Shadrix began switching orders from hot rolled black and HRPO welded tube to SCS. That was a boon to the laser tube cutting operations of TDE's
      Nancy Shadrix and Chase MacKarvich of Tie Down Engineering with one
      of Tie Down's three Laser Tube Cutting Centers. The switch to SCS has
      lowered scrap rate at these and Tie Down's table lasers that cut sheet.
     fabricating division – Industrial Laser
     Solutions (ILS). ILS operates three
     advanced 3D laser tube cutting
     centers and any rust on the tubes
     really hampers efficiency. ILS had
been outsourcing a process called 'Eco Cleaning' to remove the rust prior to lasering, but it was expensive and added cycle time. The switch to SCS eliminated that problem and kept the tube lasers humming along.

Seeing the advantages gained in tubing, Shadrix wanted to investigate using SCS for other TDE parts. That was a tall order because TDE’s operations are so extensive. Occupying four Atlanta manufacturing sites totaling over 400,000 sq.ft., Tie Down Engineering seems like a contract manufacturer on steroids. It does stamping, bending, welding (including robotic) turret punching, flat bed and tube laser cutting, CNC boring, milling and grinding . . . even plastic injection molding! That versatility comes in handy when you manufacture over 6600 SKUs.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. TDE started out in the garage of founder and President Charles “Chuck” MacKarvich in 1971. He was designing and building better “tie downs” – anchoring systems that secure mobile homes in place against high winds. As his tie down systems gained popularity, MacKarvich’s entrepreneurial drive took TDE into products as diverse as boat trailers, mailbox posts and roofing contractor safety products.

"Our sales doubled roughly every five years and today we have divisions that serve Marine, Roofing/Construction, Manufactured Housing, Cable Products and Trailer Component manufacturing for OEMs.” explains MacKarvich. “Our Engineering staff has a reputation for design innovation, and our Operations teams are obsessed with efficient manufacturing and superior quality. We’ve also developed a capital investment philosophy for the ILS Division we call ‘High Operating Leverage.’ It's selecting reliable manufacturing equipment with the automation and options to let us condense cycle time and improve quality on all the parts we think could use that process."

MacKarvich’s son, Chase MacKarvich, is a leader of ILS responsible for matching that growing parts list to ILS’ state-of-the-art machine tools in a way that boosts overall productivity. Chase oversaw the introduction and evaluation of SCS sheets in the various ILS processes that consume flat rolled low carbon steel.

“We saw a lot of advantages to SCS,” Chase recalls. “Our welding cells gained efficiency and weld quality improved due to the cleanliness of the SCS material. Our flat bed lasers run faster with SCS, and we are more confident our ‘lights out’ laser operations will run without a hiccup. Most importantly, SCS gives a cleaner cut, even at the tightest tolerances, and that lowers scrap levels from lasering. And the paint finish on SCS parts looks better cosmetically, so now we need to see if we can lean out paint prep on SCS parts as we’ve been told we should.”

Since SCS sheets got the ‘OK’ from production testing, Shadrix has switched over nearly all the company’s flat rolled buys to SCS.  She sources hot rolled from 12 gauge up to 0.250”, with regional SCS Producer Feralloy doing the SCS processing of this material at its Charleston, South Carolina facility.

“I can’t emphasize enough how the cleanliness and rust resistance has helped us,” says Shadrix. “SCS has a much longer ‘shelf life’ so SCS parts that go to plating or painting don’t get rejected for rust and sent out for that expensive Eco Cleaning anymore. It also helps me manage inventory. I’ve consolidated what were separate hot rolled black and HRPO orders into SCS. And if I find a really good buy on hot rolled I can jump on it, knowing I can have it SCS’d and it will keep in my inventory without rusting.”

Does Shadrix pay a higher price for the SCS sheets? “SCS costs more than hot rolled black, sure, but we more than offset that with the processing savings.  SCS is actually cheaper than HRPO because we eliminate the pickling charge and freight to and from the pickler. So we’re saving money with SCS and making a better product. That falls right in line with our ‘High Operating Leverage’ philosophy.

And it all started with a simple tube sample that just didn’t rust!”

SCS Fabrication Guidelines A Good Read

New SCS Web Site The conventional thinking is that nobody reads anymore. We surf, we sample, we podcast, but who has time to read?

If you're using or trialing SCS and haven't read the SCS Fabrication Guidelines, you would do well to make the time. (Hey, we're not talking a lot of time here - it's only 10 pages).

The SCS Fabrication Guidelines describe and explain a number of best practices that help you get the most from welding, laser cutting, paint prep and other processes applied to SCS. Following the guidelines has helped many SCS users capture advantages like gains in laser cutting speed or reduction in weld wire feed rates.

  But is SCS really so different that it

needs it's own 'how to' guidelines? In some cases the answer is " YES" simply because SCS is so clean. For example, leaning out your paint prep regimen when using SCS is a direct result of that cleanliness . . . and the Guidelines take much of the guesswork out of deciding what 'leaner' paint prep regimen could work best for you.

In other cases, the answer is "NO" because the guidelines would improve your performance (or lower your cost) whether they're applied to SCS, HRPO or hot rolled black. For example, many SCS users find the recommended welding gas specs contained in the Fabrication Guidelines improve weld quality for all their hot rolled material, not just SCS. (However, the improvement for SCS is often greater – again, because of its cleaner surface.)

That's not a lucky coincidence; it's a result of how the Guidelines were developed . Each SCS Fabrication Guideline spec was developed in conjunction with recognized experts in that particular technology area. These experts started with the fundamental recipes and best practices they know work well in most circumstances and then, through carefully controlled trials, further refined and optimized them for SCS. But the fundamental recipes often improve performance for HRPO or hot rolled black as well, so why not use them for these materials?

Well, you can't use them if you don't know about them,
and all too often the operator on the shop floor doesn't know the SCS Fabrication Guidelines even exist. That can lead to a disappointing initial experience with SCS because the process settings the operator normally uses may not be optimized for any hot rolled steel .

How to solve this problem?

    Step 1: Good communication from the SCS supplier to the SCS customer so the customer is informed and
                  prepared when they begin using SCS.

    Step 2: A little light reading . . .The SCS Fabrication Guidelines . . . which will never make anyone's Bestseller
                  List, but just might help you lower your fabrication and paint prep costs considerably.

You can download the SCS Fabrication Guidelines by clicking on this link.

   Copyright 2008 The SCS Producers Group
   written and distributed by Mercury Business Development Services Corp.