A customer of Badger Sheet Metal Works (BSMW) was awarded a large contract to build 200 frames that were 512 cubic feet each. Based on the east coast, the water filtration company normally sourced such work through a small metal fabrication company near its headquarters. However, the local fabricator didn’t have the capacity, nor could it achieve the quality required by the new contract.
Ten years ago, a vendor of the water filtration company shared BSMW’s work back when it built ultra-high-end stainless tanks that were ground and polished to appear as one piece. Impressed by the specs and craftsmanship of the finished products, the water filtration company sought out BSMW’s contact information and connected with the company as it began soliciting solutions for its large-scale frame project.
Proposal requests were sent to multiple shops, but the company chose BSMW because of its proven track record, access to resources, plus its capacity and floor space to build and store the large frames until the time of shipment. BSMW could also accommodate the full-dip passivation that was required and complete the project within the scoped timeframe.
Upon the launch of most new projects, BSMW dedicates two to three weeks for “research and development” prior to any fabrication work.
“When you start something new—and this large—for a customer, there are a lot of unknowns you’re walking into, and you need to get it right,” explained Tom Kraszewski, a shop supervisor at BSMW.
To keep a project this size within budget, an initial priority for BSMW was the strategic purchase of the necessary materials to build the frames and produce the fixturing for them. Pre-production kick-off meetings were held to review the fabrication process and types of fixtures that would be required for a safe, efficient and repeatable process. Since the products would be made from stainless steel, which can warp and shrink when heated, the frames had to be pre-crowned prior to welding to keep them straight, square and at the correct tolerance. By procuring the materials in custom lengths and sizes, BSMW was able to utilize nearly all of it to minimize waste and reduce upfront costs.
Once a prototype of the frame was complete, BSMW’s customer flew in to approve it for production, tour the facilities, and observe the fabricator’s processes.
From there, the work ramped up almost immediately as welding jigs were built and workers were selected for the project.
“One of the biggest challenges is finding the employees who have the mindset to tackle and turn a profit on a job of this size,” said Kraszewski.
Because the project required a lengthy commitment of time, extra care was used to split up the work into different phases to harness the cross-functional expertise of the team. An area of the BSMW facility was dedicated solely to this undertaking, and specialized racks were created to help pre-stage materials for fabricators. BSMW even set up a cold cut saw in the frame building area dedicated to cutting the structural materials. This streamlined the process and prevented bottlenecks with other work being done at the shop.
BSMW successfully delivered the project on time and to the exact specifications required by the customer. The 200 frames were found to be more than 99 percent error free.
“The customer was quick to note our quality and how ‘clean’ the product looked,” said Kenny Coe, BSMW’s sales manager.
“It was a nice feather in our hat when they called asking us to build two additional frames to go out with a shipment because they had old inventory from a previous vendor that didn’t match our quality,” added Kraszewski.
Five years later, BSMW continues doing business with the water filtration company and has built six other varieties of frames. The BSMW team also uses the same streamlined process, developed for the initial order, on the majority of its current water filtration frame projects.
To further strengthen its relationship with the customer, BSMW recently invested in an ARKU 3000 deburring machine to give components a smooth, uniform texture. The ARKU deburrs the inner and outer profiles and the top and bottom of a part’s surfaces in a single pass, processing material up to 51-inches wide and any length.
The company’s senior buyer of systems engineering concluded, “I know the product I order from Badger will always be of the highest quality, meet or exceed my delivery requirement and be competitively priced. All the levels of the organization I have interacted with have always taken the time I’ve needed to discuss any process of any project and really do make you feel you are their most important client. Badger’s attention to detail and willingness to take on seemingly impossible tasks is truly peerless in and among all of my suppliers on the Systems side of the business.”
ABOUT BADGER SHEET METAL WORKS
Badger Sheet Metal Works is a custom and OEM metal fabrication partner for a wide range of industries including food and dairy, mining, petroleum, material handling, medical and pharmaceutical. The company employs approximately 100 people in a custom-designed plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The facility includes a 70 by 320-foot main assembly bay with four crane rails featuring a total lifting capacity of 30 tons and a 22-foot under-hook height.