The term “plant maintenance” can cover a broad spectrum of possibilities. Even in the realm of metal fabrication, it could mean creating transitions to help a packaging company move its product from one receptacle to another, or it could mean designing a method for breaking up rock salt into manageable pieces. There are six areas in which a custom fabricator should excel when it comes to plant maintenance.
Your metal fabrication company should have experience and capability in a broad array of metals. One plant may require food-grade stainless steel, while other plants may require copper for conductivity or mild steel for low-cost structural needs. Make sure that your fabricator of choice can handle mild steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze, and aluminum.
Your fabricator should have equipment capable of fabricating this variety of materials as well. For example, the techniques for forming and welding stainless steel are quite different from the techniques used on aluminum, so a custom metal fabrication shop needs to have equipment capable of handling all possible needs. Their equipment must be able to cut, punch, drill, form, weld, and polish whatever material the project requires.
Equipment will only get a fabricator so far. A good shop must have talented and skilled craftsmen who have experience fabricating plant maintenance projects. In today’s marketplace, with the shortage of skilled tradesmen, you should make sure that your fabricator of choice has a method of training personnel so that the “tricks of the trade” can be passed down from person to person. A company that can transfer this wealth of knowledge will be a preferred partner in plant maintenance projects for years to come.
While you work in your plant every day, you do not have to measure for new components every day. A good custom metal fabricator should have the ability to visit your facility, learn and understand your needs, and work with you to design a solution that will solve your problem. Once this is determined, the vendor should be able to take measurements onsite to ensure that your components will be able to be easily installed upon completion. It is hard enough to work around existing equipment: take steps to make sure the new components will fit properly so you don’t have to wrestle them into place!
Keeping your plant up and running is one of your primary goals, so your fabricator of choice should understand the urgent nature of plant shutdowns and scheduled maintenance periods. At times there is only a small window of opportunity to take the necessary measurements, and there may also be a scheduled day for a line to be “down” for maintenance. A good plant maintenance vendor will make himself available for measuring at a time that is convenient for the plant, and they will fabricate your pieces and complete them in time for them to be installed during the scheduled shutdown.
And finally, odds are that you won’t need more than one or two of a given item in order to solve your problem. Make sure that your fabricator specializes and excels in low-volume projects. There are plenty of companies that stamp out “widgets” by the thousands while calling themselves “job shops.” Although some of these companies do exceptional work that fits their niche, they may have difficulty with smaller, quicker projects.
Astro Sheet Metal has a long history of excellence in all six of these areas. Let us put our strengths to work on your next plant maintenance project, and save yourself some heartache at crunch time!