What We Have Learned from the Changes and Consistencies In Industrial Manufacturing Over the Last 40 Years

aerial shot of the ProcessBarron facility

In this post, Don Masters, Senior Regional Sales Manager for ProcessBarron, shares some of the ways industrial manufacturing has changed over the years and how ProcessBarron has adapted to serve clients better. 

I’ve been at ProcessBarron for 25 years, but I have been working in this industry for a total of 37 years now. I initially started my career at Barron Industries, which was acquired by Process Equipment in 2002. Shortly after the acquisition, the company changed its name to Process Equipment/Barron Industries, which later became ProcessBarron.   

I started as a draftsman in the fan repair/rebuild group and was later promoted to the chief draftsman managing the repair/rebuild department. When Process Equipment merged with Barron Industries, I started as an estimator in the fan repair/rebuild product group and, from there, moved into sales. I’ve been in sales for the last 20 years and I’ve seen firsthand how things have changed over the years. 

Changes in Drafting Technology

Technology has probably made the biggest difference. When I first started, we were creating drawings by hand on drafting tables. We performed our equipment layouts and design calculations manually.

Then AutoCAD came into vogue around the mid-90s. We had a steep learning curve as we changed over from hand drawings, but it has benefited the industry tremendously. There are many benefits to using AutoCAD, such as ease of design changes and the ability to create highly accurate layouts and design work. We can do more complex design work for customers in a faster and more efficient way. 

The Addition of CNC Burners

CNC burners are a technology on the fabrication side that works hand-in-hand with AutoCAD.  This equipment has been around for a while, but consistent technology improvements make them better.

Everything we fabricate starts as a piece of flat plate steel. The first step is burning out all the components to size and shape. Then all components are formed and assembled to create the final product. This is true for creating fan housings, impellers, and other components inside the complete fan assembly. Years ago, we did that type of work manually. The guys in the plant would use our drawings, chalk, and very large protractors to lay out shapes on the steel. Then, they would take a hand torch and burn them out.

Now, with the CNC burners, our operations team gets an AutoCAD drawing with all the components at full scale. They use special software that takes the unique shapes and creates a data file that can be read by the CNC burner. The CNC burner then cuts all the shapes out to size. This process is much more precise and 10 times faster. It’s been incredibly beneficial.

Our customer’s equipment is under tremendous stress. Since wear and erosion are very prevalent, we offer multiple solutions to increase the lifespan of their equipment. We use special abrasion-resistant products such as chrome carbide to increase protection. Part of the manufacturing process with chrome carbide requires us to bevel the edges of this plate because it takes multiple passes to weld properly. In the old days, they had to cut the chrome carbide shapes and then go back and manually bevel the edges with a plasma torch. With the  CNC burners we use now, we can cut the chrome carbide shapes and bevel “only the edges needing beveling” all in one process.

Greater Ability for Custom Design Work

These technological changes over the years have increased our capabilities to meet our customers’ demands through custom design work.  

We have the capacity to duplicate a customer’s existing equipment in kind. We used to go out and measure everything by hand. We still do a lot of that, but now we have FARO laser scanners.  We have a handheld scanner we use to scan individual or smaller sections of existing equipment.  We also have a larger FARO 3D scanner that mounts on a tripod to scan large projects. This 3D scanner is excellent for larger projects as we can scan entire sections of a plant to capture the dimensions of the equipment we will be replacing or upgrading. The 3D scan data we capture also allows us to identify locations of other existing equipment, columns, and beams, so we avoid any potential interferences upon installation. 

We take the data that the 3D scanner gathers and download it into a program that works in sync with AutoCAD. This program creates a 3D model that we can “walk” through virtually and gathers the needed dimensions more accurately than you can by physically measuring with a tape measure. Plus, you can always go back into the model later if you discover you need additional information. 

We have used this method on several large projects where we supplied a new fan housing, the dampers that go on the housing, inlet ductwork for the fan, outlet work, and support steel. We’ve also used it on material handling projects as well, where we needed to locate multiple drag conveyors and screw conveyors to install a complete fuel handling system.  Pairing this technology with the skill and experience of our engineers provides our customers with top-notch design integrity and excellence. 

Serving New and Existing Clients Better

There’s a lot of information we need to gather to be able to design new equipment for existing systems. Often, the customer doesn’t have all the original drawings, which means you will have to obtain all of the measurements physically. With our utilization of the latest technology, we have the capabilities to take on large-scale projects that some of our competitors are not equipped to handle with the precision and accuracy that we provide.  

ProcessBarron has always taken the approach of building dependable and long-term relationships with our customers. We are not looking to come in and sell you one piece of equipment and then you’ll never see us again. Our long-term goal is to build relationships with customers and continue to service that company for years to come. I have always let my customers know I am a resource for them any time they have problems they need solved or just have questions to ask. I’ve often had long-time customers call me to ask if I have copies of a specific drawing of part of their plant, and many times, I do. It’s because I am dedicated to serving our customers as their trusted and reliable partner. It’s our company philosophy.

To learn more about partnering with our team at ProcessBarron, or for a project quote, contact us here! Our expert sales team can help you identify the best path forward for your plant, your needs, and your budget.