Heavy Hitter

By DENIS WEINFURTHER, ARKU INC.
This article was first published on: https://www.ffjournal.net/heavy-hitter.html

Above: With the EdgeBreaker 4000’s intuitive touch-screen interface, operators can make adjustments or perform automatic calibration of the tools in no time.

Fabricator uses grinding technology to make deburring process safer and more efficient

December 2021 – When the late Ted Corbin founded Metal Trades Inc. in 1962, he had one piece of welding equipment and a pickup truck. Since then, the family-owned company has grown exponentially. Metal Trades earned certification as a Master Ship Repair Contractor for the U.S. Army and has an Agreement for Boat Repair with the U.S. Navy. The company developed into a multi-skilled specialist in heavy custom steel fabrication for barge/commercial marine construction and ship repair.

The company’s complex is housed on almost 50 acres, and it operates its own deep-water access point off South Carolina’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Able to accommodate vessels up to 370 ft. long and 70 ft. wide, including massive crane barges, Metal Trades also supports the power generation market with parts that range from transformers and cooling units to oil tanks.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the last 59 years is the company’s relentless pursuit of quality. “No matter what product, they all have one thing in common,” says Virgil Taylor, processing manager for Metal Trades. “They are custom-made, and they are heavy. Standard solutions don’t stand a chance in the demanding industries we serve.”

Taylor, who has been with the company for 25 years, knows what he’s talking about. According to him, customers who rely on high-quality equipment have equally high expectations concerning product design and functionality.

FFJ 1221 deburring image1

Metal Trades has increased part consistency and throughput with the EdgeBreaker 4000.

Improving Processes

“We do serve a niche market, but a demanding one, that continuously asks us to push our boundaries,” says Dustin Corbin, vice president of operations for Metal Trades. “This requires us to be flexible at all times.” That means scrutinizing the company’s internal processes for ways to improve.

In 2019, Metal Trades identified a need to fabricate and deburr steel more efficiently.  The existing manual methods had become a major pain point.

“We employ well-versed welders and fitters who do a tremendous job,” says Taylor. “On top of that, once parts were oxyfuel or gas cut, the staff handled and manually deburred them. For smooth fabrication, we need to take the dross off our parts.”

The process proved to be problematic. Deburring with hand grinders kept the welders and fitters from performing their primary jobs and posed a safety risk. Metal Trades processes parts up to 2 in. thick and 40 in. wide. To mitigate the risk and reduce labor expenses, the company began looking for automated deburring support.

“We wanted to keep our welders and fitters on their jobs and proceed to fabrication without secondary handling,” Corbin explains. “After all, we aim to maintain high deburring quality for heavy parts at all times. Efficiency is our No. 1 driver.”

In 2019, a small team from Metal Trades traveled to Fabtech in Chicago. Equipment at the ARKU booth caught their attention. The company has been designing and building levelers, deburring machines and coil lines for many years. Corbin met ARKU Sales Manager Nathan Brown and they discussed the options for an automated deburring machine. After Brown demonstrated the machines’ capabilities, “it was obvious that the EdgeBreaker 4000 was a highly promising fit. I was particularly interested in the machine’s ability to deburr the top and bottom of a part in a single pass.”

In terms of process efficiency, “this was exactly what we were looking for,” adds Taylor. The EdgeBreaker 4000’s oscillating grinding drum removes burrs from plasma and oxyfuel cut parts up to 4 in. thick with repeatable results. Edge-rounding tools on the top and bottom foster double-sided edge rounding as well. This double-sided design can cut processing times by up to 50 percent compared to conventional single-side machines.

Metal Trades installed an ARKU EdgeBreaker 4000 and found the installation to be straightforward. “ARKU technicians managed the setup smoothly and helped us wherever they could,” Corbin says. “Given the facility’s layout, there was no optimal spot to place the machine, but ARKU worked with us to identify the best location for optimal operation.”

The most important aspect of the installation wasn’t space. “Training and knowing how to handle such a powerful tool are infinitely more relevant for quality,” says Taylor. “In addition to standard machine training, we make sure operators understand that thickness is crucial for smooth operations.”

FFJ 1221 deburring image2

Nick Cromer, Metal Trades steel processing lead, left, Daniel Freeman, Metal Trades steel processing specialist, Virgil Taylor, Metal Trades steel processing manager, and Nathan Brown, sales manager at ARKU Inc.

Above and Beyond

“In our industry, I encounter new challenges every day,” Taylor continues. “Sometimes, equipment is intended for certain processes but we take pride in using it above and beyond its specifications. I like coming to work without having to dread the repetitiveness of other industries.”

The EdgeBreaker 4000 is processing roughly 10,000 lbs. of heavy parts per month. “ARKU’s equipment is a real lifesaver,” says Corbin. “It takes the dross off neatly and has accepted all matching parts without major issues. For us, the improvements are mainly internal, since we’re saving rework and manual labor hours.”

The EdgeBreaker 4000 also helps to achieve good painting on the parts’ edges, which boosts corrosion resistance. One of its major benefits, though, is barely perceptible: it’s a virtually silent operation. According to Virgil, “the EdgeBreaker is one of the quietest machines I’ve ever run. Even at full capacity, except for a low humming, you can barely hear it. This is highly unusual in the industry and creates a quiet working atmosphere. Standing right next to the deburring machine, a customer once even asked me if it was running at all.”  FFJ

MTI Blast and Paint: Adding Value in the Home Stretch

What makes the Blast and Paint operation such a vital part of MTI’s production capability? Well, without paint, a manufacturing process is simply incomplete. If contractors want their plants to be known as “turnkey” operations – a highly coveted label – they must be able to consistently deliver according to customers’ paint requirements. Painting is often the final item of successful delivery (not including testing, of course). The topcoat not only “finishes” the end-product, but multi-part paint systems also ensure the quality of the application protects the customers’ investment for years to come. So it is critical to ensure metrics are in place to meet compliance with our customers’ technical specifications. Metal Trades, Inc. promises quality and compliance to meet the customers’ requirements from delivery of raw steel to final testing and delivery.

MTI: Investing in Blast and Paint Talent…

Metal Trades, Inc. recognizes the importance of coatings, establishing relationships with multiple paint vendors, creating relationships with subcontractors to assist on time-critical projects if needed, and we invest in Blast and Paint Infrastructure to support this critical aspect of the job’s life cycle. MTI offers exceptional in-house Quality Assurance oversight on every project. We have on-staff certified NACE Inspectors and an expert team that repeatedly accomplishes painting quickly, efficiently, and in compliance with specified requirements. When required, our crew works day and night to meet critical deadlines.

…And Blast and Paint Technology!

Metal Trades, Inc. boasts one of the largest indoor blast and paint booths on the East Coast—in total our main blast and paint building is 200 feet x 40 feet wide. This capacity is due to the width of the door opening, which will accommodate structures 35 feet wide. Each booth (blast and paint) is 100 feet long with accordion doors that allow products to easily move from one bay to the next. The doors open in a way that allows the flexibility for overhang when necessary. Our heavy lift equipment can easily drive through the building to transit large structures and modules in and out of our booths.

“Small” Booth, Big Production Flexibility!

MTI also has a “small” blast and paint booth that is 20 feet x 40 feet (each booth). This smaller booth is great for jobs such as hoppers and platforms. This booth also helps MTI accommodate various product lines that are in high-volume production. Our “small” blast and paint booth connect to our main fabrication building, which also allows our heavy lift equipment and MTI’s own tractor trailer access for easy loading. MTI can accommodate delivery by land or deep-water from our heavy lift loading pier and/or our marine railway. Our “small booth” stays busy supporting our Power Generation Division but is ready to support additional capacity and our “big booth” is ready for more work too!

blast and paint

blast and paint

The Final Step of a Turnkey Operation

After all the assemblers, welders, fitters, and crane operators have done their job, your MTI structure has been transformed from raw iron and steel into something that closely resembles the vessel you ordered. But it’s not done yet. The talent and technology of MTI’s Blast and Paint operation provide the finishing touch that brings it all to life. Now THAT’S turnkey skill, convenience, and quality!

MTI specializes in new construction and maintenance and repair. Think of Metal Trades when you have a large blast and paint job! We would love to support your next project.

Visit the MTI website or call 843-889-6441 and ask for Business Development or Estimating Department.

Team Up to Clean Up with MTI!

mti meggett team up to clean up

Metal Trades, Inc. (MTI) gave a preview of our Team Up to Clean Up efforts back in March of this year. That’s when a team of internal volunteers joined together for our Highway 165 clean-up day. Based on that success of that project…

“Metal Trades is committed to making community clean-up a regularly scheduled event. The Town of Meggett is planning the next event for Saturday, April 17th. We are planning to attend to show our support and commitment to keeping our community beautiful.”

That was the sign-off for our previous blog post, “MTI Community Clean-Up: Picking Up, Giving Back.” And sure enough, we were back at it several weeks later as part of the Town of Meggett 2021 Annual Big Spring Clean Event.

mti meggett team up to clean up

MTI and Local Students Team Up to Clean Up

On April 17, 2021, despite a misty rain, a Metal Trades team consisting of Rusty Corbin, Patsy Corbin, and Kristi Rowe joined forces with several Lowcountry Leadership Charter School students to become MTI’s “Team Up to Clean Up” crew.  The Town also provided the students with community service hours for volunteering their time.

mti meggett team up to clean up

Of course, as everyone fanned out to fill their trash bags, a little friendly competition developed to see who could find the oddest item by the side of the road. Some interesting items found by our team members included extension cords, safety glasses, gloves, a trash can lid, medicine bottles, and a whole bunch of other bottles!  Other volunteers found a snake in a jar and a circular saw which proves anything can be found on the side of the road!

mti meggett team up to clean up

Team Up to Clean Up: MTI Gives Back to the Community!

That concludes this most recent example of MTI giving back. There will definitely be more to come, as Metal Trades takes community service and involvement very seriously. So stay tuned!

Community Clean-up: MTI Picking Up & Giving Back

MTI Trash Road

Why a Community Clean-up Day? Metal Trades, Inc. (MTI) has been part of the Meggett community for almost 60 years. Like any good corporate citizen, the company continually looks for ways to give back to the place we call our home and to lead the way in making our town a better place to live, work, and play.

In that spirit, MTI employees completed another successful community clean-up day on Friday, March 5th, 2021.  Team members scoured ditches, shoulders, and the roadside from Ethel Post Office Road to the end of Highway 165 at Metal Trades.

Highway 165: Target-rich Environment for Community Clean-up!

Highway 165 is the main road that travels between the town of Meggett and the Metal Trades facility. There is high traffic volume, some speed issues, and the occasional bit of littering. As a candidate for a community clean-up, HWY 165 is a target that makes sense, and one that provides bang for the buck. What’s more, it provides evidence of what we always knew – but perhaps the community did not – that MTI truly cares about the local land and water that provide us our livelihood.

Environmental Avengers, Assemble!

MTI Team

And so, on that clear, cool Friday morning a team of smiling MTI faces assembled, including Camy Swanson from Accounts Payable and Receivable, Safety Director Patti Corbin, Director of Contracts Megan Dean, Controller Daniel Reed, Human Resources Director Kristi Rowe, and Estimator Greg Crites.

Trash Composite

Armed with positive attitudes and upbeat tunes, our band set about their task, dancing down the highway and filling their trash bags for the entire morning. Together, our team picked up an impressive amount of trash (10 bags!) along Highway 165. All agreed it was an extremely rewarding and productive session.

MTI Team Wider

Environmental Leadership by Example

With our longstanding presence in the community, MTI has a duty to lead by example. We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship. We will continue to positively impact our community. And together with the Town and its people, MTI will continue to do its part to keep Meggett clean. If you have questions or suggestions to help us achieve our goal of environmental leadership, please contact MTI today!

* * *

MTI is committed to making this a regularly scheduled event. The Town of Meggett is planning the next community clean-up on Sat April 17th. We are planning to attend to show our support and commitment to keeping our community beautiful.

 


Metal Trades, Inc. (MTI) is a family owned business located just south of Charleston, South Carolina operating with deep water access on the intracoastal waterway. We have been in business since 1962 and have extensive past performance in Heavy Steel Fabrication, Manufacturing, Machining, Vessel Construction and Vessel Maintenance and Repair for both commercial and Government customers.

” J.E. Corbin, Jr. founded Metal Trades, Inc. in 1962 with a pickup truck, a welding machine, and years of metal fabricating experience. Since that time MTI established a solid reputation for its multi-skilled work force and strong commitment to high quality.”

 

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