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Is metal roofing fabrication right for your shop?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

When deciding wheher or not to produce roofing panels, you need to determine you ROI, based on if you can use existing equipment or need new equipment, the required panel appearance; possible line configuration; and material handling options.

In recent years the metal building industries have grown substantially. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, the residential metal roofing market doubled its market share from 3 percent to 6 percent in five years. To take advantage of this growth, more fabricators are increasing the versatility of their manufacturing capabilities by adding to or expanding the metal building products they offer.

Besides the more commonly produced metal studs, fabricators have been adding metal roofing an accessories to their current product lineups. The roofing panels come in many different types, with the more common ones being R, A, AG, corrugated, standing seam, and roof decks.

Existing or New Equipment?
When deciding whether or not to produce these panels either as an expanded line or a new product, you must decide if your return on investment (ROI) makes sense for your business mode. The rule of thumb is if you must run at least 500,000 linear feet of sheet metal to justify purchasing a new, complete roll forming line.

If you have an existing roll forming line and are planning to run fewer than 500,000 linear feet of sheet metal, you must calculate the current capacity of your line to see if the new components can be run on it. You might be able to retool your existing line, which can be a big cost savings.

Of course, the type of product you are going to run and its requirements (number of passes, horizontal spacing, roll space, and so on) will dictate whether you can run it on existing equipment Your tooling vendors should be able to help you with this determination.

If you do not have an existing roll forming line or have insufficient capacity on your current equipment, you will need to purchase a new, complete line. New lines come in many configuration some are high-speed, in-plant machines while others are less capital-intensive feed-to-stop and portable units for smaller footage requirements. The portable machines usually are entry-level, with capacities limited to the smaller footage requirements of on-site fabrication.

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