Leading maker of roof mount solar systems had four issues.
First, it was having its light-gauge mounting systems fabricated by small fabricators who were accustomed to low-volume quantities.
As low-volume producers, they were buying cut-to-length blanks, laser punching the holes, then press braking the parts. Volumes were increasing, and the supplier had to have numerous producers making parts to keep up.
Second, due to the low-volume production methods being used, the process was very labor intensive and thus very expensive. The steel was more expensive from the start due to the fact that the steel had to be purchased in pre-cut pieces instead of coil. The material handling between operations was also substantial.
Third, the excessive handling labor, slow machine process, and multiple operations necessary to get a finished part slowed the output. The customer was getting larger and larger jobs that required faster lead times, which meant they needed even more suppliers -- or a faster production method.
Fourth, the customer was getting orders from Canada, and due to the FITs in place they needed a Canadian supplier to take care of this business.
Roll Forming to the Rescue
The solution came when Hynes Industries approached them and learned of their issues and concerns. We immediately met with their engineers and began to look at a faster, more cost-efficient way of making the parts. It was determined that roll forming would yield huge savings, make the parts quicker, meet lead time requirements, and improve quality. Plus one producer could easily group orders together and achieve economies of scale.
Smooth Business in Canada, too
The other benefit of dealing with Hynes? The solar customer could go after the Canadian market, and had a partner right in Toronto so FIT compliance would be immediate. Roll tooling was made for roll-formed shapes, as well as a full complement of pre-punch and cut-off dies.
Along with this, stamping dies were also made to take care of the brackets and clamps used by the customer. Huge savings were realized for the brackets. Previously, they were made by press brake. Some required eight operations, which were now all being done in a single progressive die. Parts could be produced more than 20 times faster.