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Automated cuts

A manufacturer sees huge gains in productivity after adopting an automated sawing solution

When Gallo Mechanical, a mechanical and plumbing contractor located on the Gulf Coast, was established around 70 years ago, the race to automate manufacturing processes was about 30 years in the future. But Gallo Mechanical’s leaders have evolved with the times, adopting technology that brings value to customers. The commitment to innovation and continuous improvement hit another milestone recently with the adoption of automated sawing technology.

Like companies in many industries, Gallo Mechanical has put a focus on digitization. Going digital eliminates paperwork and all the tedious manual steps involved. Digitization also ushers

Gallo Mechanical has worked on projects that vary from small storefronts to the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

in automating many processes.

Recently, Gallo Mechanical adopted MSuite’s FabPro, a predictive analytics solution that increases visibility, productivity and accuracy in the fabrication shop. MSuite is a cloud-based management software company that connects design, shop and field construction teams. The software helps manufacturers share, manage and track data for the entirety of a project.

A major perk in choosing FabPro, says Ray McDonald, general manager and fabrication coordinator at Gallo Mechanical, is that MSuite integrates with TigerStop’s automated stop gauge and material positioning systems, which the company used prior to implementing MSuite.

“From the start,” he says, “the integration between MSuite and TigerStop saved our firm $4,000.”

Ease of integration

Utilizing MSuite software, which integrates with TigerStop’s automated material positioning equipment, productivity improvements became the new norm at Gallo Mechanical.

Few manufacturers can claim that every new piece of technology they adopt is met without resistance from their employees. This was on McDonald’s mind when his company decided to adopt the MSuite and TigerStop technology, particularly because of the staff’s limited exposure to software at the shop.

“I was deeply concerned how our team was going to react to implementing the monitors and tablets at each workstation,” he says, “but it was all for naught. Both the MSuite software and TigerStop equipment were straightforward to train on and use. I would be hard-pressed by the team if I ever tried to pull them out.”

Integrating the new solutions involved Gallo Mechanical workers mapping out their manual steps in the fabrication shop and configuring those steps in FabPro. Spreadsheets and paperwork were replaced by the software and monitors at each station.

“We worked closely with MSuite’s exceptional client success team to eliminate unnecessary steps,” McDonald says, “and to learn how to set up an organized process for optimizing our workflows and tracking employee time. The TigerStop took two days to turn on, and we started seeing results, as well.”

Elizabeth Dick, sales and marketing director at TigerStop, says the equipment is intuitive and designed to be as simple to use as a cell phone. On average, she says it takes 7 min. to train a brand-new unskilled operator.

“The keyword there is ‘unskilled,’” Dick notes. “An operator who doesn’t have a background in manufacturing can walk up to a machine and cut/drill/punch/press accurate parts without any type of advanced training or degree. Our equipment is a secret weapon used by manufacturers across the globe to combat the skilled labor gap.”

Integration advantages

Recouping $4,000 right off the bat seems like a hefty amount, but it was made possible, in part, because Gallo Mechanical achieved a more efficient flow of information that transformed

A Gallo Mechanical worker uses TigerStop equipment on copper tubing. The company saw a drastic reduction in scrap after implementing TigerStop positioning technology at its sawing stations.

the company’s metal fabrication process. Before implementing MSuite and TigerStop technology, “paper ruled the day.” For example, employees had to transfer paperwork orders to the programmer, attach nest reports and set up the fab book. Finally, they had to physically carry all the paperwork to the shop floor.

If anyone needed to see where a job was in the production cycle, they had to talk to operators on the shop room floor and hunt down the paperwork to get an update. The manual process was a substantial waste of material and paper, which is now eliminated. Furthermore, Gallo Mechanical is able to use MSuite’s administrative tools, including digital timecards instead of paper timecards.

The new approach puts Gallo Mechanical at the forefront of using mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) manufacturing technology to gain strategic advantages. Gallo has implemented MEP manufacturing solutions for years, but with the MSuite and TigerStop technology, they can now connect model data to their shop floor cut stations, automating their cut list creation and nesting processes. This means their staff doesn’t have to create and manage CSV (comma-separated values) files, which is a notoriously tedious, multi-step task that eats up time and materials (excessive scrap).

Improved workflow

Gallo Mechanical also uses MSuite’s BIMPro automated software. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors utilize BIMPro for its rule-based automation, allowing them to automate fabrication spools and sheet creation, hanger placement, point layout and shop drawings, among other uses. With BIMPro and FabPro, each integrated with TigerStop, users can automatically upload their designs and manufacturing data for nesting.

MSuite’s FabPro software automates real-time production and material logistics from an easy-to-use interface.

With the nesting layout built on the sheet inventory, users can analyze several available sheet sizes and select the sheet that provides the most optimal utilization. They can nest the sheet by drawing level, package, company and job, then sequence to cut materials in the most efficient manner, thus eliminating a majority of waste.

“With the BIMPro-to-FabPro-to-TigerStop integration,” McDonald says, “the automation and workflows replaced several manual steps and took a quarter of the time.”

“Not only is our FabPro to TigerStop helping us save on scrap,” McDonald says, “it has also saved us an incredible amount of money on raw material purchases. We are saving 10 percent on every single job. The integration between BIMPro, FabPro and TigerStop helps Gallo Mechanical save money, increase productivity and efficiency, and reduce risks in the shop.”

Dick says TigerStop users don’t often believe the company’s scrap waste statistics because they are unfathomably high, but they soon find out that it is not unrealistic to see a 30 percent reduction in waste in the first 60 days of using a TigerStop product.

“But that’s only one component of the savings customers see,” she says. “TigerStop equipment reduces setup times and rework times and increases productivity and yield. Not paying an operator overtime to fix mistakes is in of itself a huge time savings, but because raw material costs are so high, the reduction in scrap waste savings is the most visibly dramatic on a business’ P&L statement.”

Gallo Mechanical

TigerStop