Each year, nearly 8 million people visit New York City’s High Line Park. Built on a historic freight rail line that used to run above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side, the park provides much-needed green space in the heart of the bustling metropolis. The design of the High Line is notable for its adaptive reuse of industrial infrastructure. The old railway tracks, steel beams and original elements were creatively integrated into the park’s design, preserving the area’s industrial history while also giving it a contemporary look.
The elevated vantage point provides a different perspective on the city; heavy-duty stainless steel grating creates a “see-through” look underfoot. Not only is the walkway ADA-compliant, it is strong enough to support the various maintenance vehicles that must access all of the areas of the elevated park. As an added bonus, the gratings are “high-heel friendly.”
These robust and aesthetically unique gratings were made thanks to Ohio Gratings Inc., the nation’s only privately owned full-line grating manufacturing company. With headquarters in Canton, Ohio, the company is a family organization that got its start as a small company in 1970. What started as a one-man business is now a multi-site operation that employs more than 475 people.
“Since 1970, Ohio Gratings has grown rapidly to more than 700,000 sq. ft. just in our Perry Township, Ohio, manufacturing plant; the company also has many sister companies and additional facilities,” says Mark Bowling, manufacturing technology manager. “We are known for our wide-ranging products – everything from standard industrial gratings to custom architectural designs.”
Ohio Gratings is also known for its wide-ranging and high-profile projects. In addition to High Line Park, others include Chicago’s Riverwalk, General Motor’s Riverfront Plaza and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, just to name a few.
Ohio Gratings’ customer base is large – there are more than 3,000 active customers. And the customer base is incredibly diverse – industries include large distribution centers, fabricators, contractors, utility sectors and industrial manufacturers. The company’s work even made a cameo on an Avengers movie set.
“Our strength is our ability to service large amounts of specialty customers, including fabricators, contractors, departments of transportation, utilities and architectural design companies,” Bowling says. “We provide them with stock and custom products of all types.”
In terms of products, customers have come to Ohio Gratings for fences, handrails and pedestrian walkways; utility vaults and hatches; stairs, walkways and stair treads; catwalks, landings and platforms; material handling in the form of storage rack decking, shelves and work platforms; and bridges of all types. And that’s not to mention all of the standard and custom products that the company produces for environmental, marine and public access applications.
Ohio Gratings produces its products in aluminum, stainless steel and carbon steel and can add a variety of finishes, including anodized, galvanized, mill, powder coat and paint. It can also provide products finished with OnGrip, an ADA-approved metal spray technology that bonds with metal surfaces for enhanced traction, and AlGrip, a laser deposition process patented by Ohio Gratings that provides robust slip resistance for surfaces.
To process all of these products in a wide variety of materials, the company relies on the most cutting-edge fabrication equipment available. This is especially true for the laser deposition process behind the AlGrip finish.
In 2021, Ohio Gratings purchased an LS5 flat sheet fiber laser cutting machine from BLM GROUP USA. While the BLM machine served as its first plate cutting laser, the company is not new to the world of fiber laser equipment or sophisticated fabrication machines in general.
“With Ohio Gratings’ prior experience with CNC cutting machines, such as plasma, oxyfuel and waterjet, the integration of the BLM GROUP product was easier than it would have been without that experience,” Bowling explains. “BLM GROUP supported our launch with programming training for the Lantek nesting software as well as on-site operator and support training during the machine launch and follow-up.”
For companies that may not have the extensive fabrication equipment experience exhibited at Ohio Gratings, BLM GROUP touts the LS5 as “simple to use,” adding that sheet metal cutting can happen in “just three clicks using the feature-rich interface that guides you step-by-step through production.”
The machine interface gives users a smart dashboard for managing their cutting parameters and production progress and for monitoring the status of a machine, scheduling maintenance and more. The machine is available with a standard and large-size table and in power levels ranging from 3 kW to 12 kW, depending on users’ needs.
“The LS5 supports the production of our products with its range of capabilities with different shielding gases,” Bowling says. “Additionally, the dust collection system allows us to more safely process stainless and aluminum materials that would be unsafe to cut with plasma and is much faster than waterjet processing.”
The machine also produces parts with incredibly high quality regardless of the thickness. That is in part thanks to a sophisticated cutting head that automatically adapts to the thickness of the material to ensure clean and precise cuts. Burrs, therefore, are a thing of the past regardless of the material or its thickness.
The LS5 was installed in Ohop Gratings’ primary manufacturing facility in Perry Township and features Active Piercing, Active Cut, 18-position nozzle change, automated load/unload system and a high-pressure dry air system for air cutting.
No matter the configuration, the LS5 comes standard with a pallet changer that extracts laser cut parts and loads new sheet metal. With the addition of the automated load/unload system, customers can provide materials to the system and allow it to operate unattended, if required.
“Our design and development of highly engineered products, such as our proprietary Wheels n’ Heels product along with a general investment in higher technology and production capacity really drove our decision to invest in the BLM GROUP’s LS5,” Bowling says. “The system allows for rapid development and manufacturing of more complex shapes than are utilized in standard grating products.”
It is exactly this type of quality, speed and attention to detail that draws customers of all types to Ohio Gratings. And unbeknownst to them, it is what helps tourists enjoy the many sights and sounds municipalities around the country have to offer.