Selected articles from April/May 2008 issue published on TheFabricator.com:
If you're a tube or pipe producer, you're probably under constant pressure to cut costs. And you probably know that you can reduce your raw material costs by reducing the coil width, within reason, and the change will have little noticeable impact on the final product's quality. However, this doesn't give you license to make wholesale significant width reductions. In fact, you'd probably be better off developing a comprehensive process optimization program and striving for higher efficiency instead of merely cutting costs.
The current expansion in the tube and pipe industry isn't new, but it bears a close look nonetheless. Understanding the factors that are causing it and how manufacturers are reacting to it provide some guidance to the future of this trend.
Many fabrication shops that do a lot of stainless steel tube and pipe welding are in a bit of trouble these days. The problem isn't a lack of work, of course—it's a matter of trying to handle too much work with too few resources (skilled welders). They can ask their fabricators to work harder or faster, but that goes only so far. Can a new technology help them get more output from their existing employee base?
Fabricators have two broad choices in the bend tooling they select: standard or custom. Using standardized tooling provides cost-effective versatility. A well developed tooling inventory can accommodate nearly any bending job. On the other hand, custom tooling is designed for speed and efficiency. Customized tools make one part and one part only as fast as possible. The trade-offs boil down to time and money: standardized tooling requires more time to set up but costs less. With custom tooling, changeover is quick, but the tooling costs more.
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