Custom Fabrication Through and Through
Flexco’s new press joins eight additional stamping presses occupying a 60,000-sq.-ft. building on the firm’s sprawling campus in Elkhart. In addition to RV steps, the building’s inventory of presses as well as additional fabricating and finishing equipment—lasers, press brakes, robotic-welding cells, a powder coating line, etc.—turns out cam locks, bar locks and strap hinges for the cargo-trailer industry, and a line of continuous hinges.
“We’re a full-blown custom fabricator,” says Jellison, noting that the firm serves more than 1000 customers and produces more than 30,000 part numbers. In all, its manufacturing campus houses 25 buildings, eight of which are used regularly for production. The firm even maintains its own material-processing plant, to satisfy inhouse needs as well as service other metal-fabrication shops. Flexco purchases material direct from the mills and performs cut-to-length operations, corrective leveling and coil-to-coil slitting. Its steel-processing operation features a Braner 72-in. looping-pit slitting line that can process coils from 30 gauge to ¼ in., outfitted with an automated packaging conveyor.
In addition to operating some 20 stamping presses throughout its complex, the firm also maintains a fleet of eight CNC turret presses—most outfitted with automatic load/unload systems—and three laser-cutting machines. Its latest investment is a 4-kW laser from Han-Kwang USA.
“I purchase new equipment every year,” says Jellison, noting his commitment to keeping the shop updated with the latest-greatest equipment that began when he launched the firm in 1977. Technology holds the key to enabling the company to respond quickly to customer requirements.
Be Nimble, Be Quick
“Things change quickly in the world of custom metal fabrication,” says Jellison. “We have to be able to react to changes in supply levels, pricing, design changes and order volumes. Speed is critical, as is being able to turn on a dime when we get a running design change.”
Helping the firm remain nimble is its custom shop-management software, data-driven with barcodes. “We barcode everything,” says Jellison, “We track every operation and compare real-time performance with standards developed that govern every operation. This allows us to compare actual time and cost for each project to what we’ve projected, and adjust on the fly. We can then maintain a system of checks and balances to make sure we’re accurately quoting the work and properly estimating process timing.”
What’s next on Jellison’s wish list for new technology?“We hope to be able to replace several more of our aging stamping presses in the near future with state-of-the-art Seyi models,” he says. MF
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