Gaining Capabilities with Metal Fabrication




A drilling, punching, and sheering system can provide a multitude of capabilities which allows a fabrication shop to perform many in-house services. The Voortman V550-6 drilling, punching, and shearing system is one such system used at the Kloeckner Metals Indianapolis branch. The machine is able to drill, punch, shear, thread tap, and etch both flat and angled steel, all in one series of automated processes.

“We can physically run structural angles, channels, flat bar, merchant bars, and more through this machine,” says David Mueller, processing sales manager of Kloeckner Metals Indianapolis.

The capabilities of this particular machine are geared toward the connection side of the construction business. For a fabrication shop that deals heavily with building materials, the ability to make these parts is a natural addition.

“The customers can buy not only their structural beam package from us but they can buy their component parts as well,” says Dan Childers, an account manager at Kloeckener Metals Indianapolis. “We can be a more complete provider of inventory and parts than we were before.”


Having these capabilities allows the facility to become a one-stop-shop for customers. Without this machine, these parts would typically either be done on a burning table or less agile machine like an ironworker. This can be more costly, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. When the customer does not have to make these parts in-house, it allows them to better utilize their labor force and capabilities.

“It helps our customer base on tedious, less profitable items that they have to put more labor into,” Childers says.

These customers generally do not have the volume necessary to merit investing in a Voortman machine. At Kloeckner Metals’ shop, however, the machine can be kept running almost constantly. The only necessary downtime will be the occasional maintenance check and the set-up time.

“Set up time is the killer, so the goal is to continue to run similar parts,” says Anthony Keith, process line operator at Kloeckner Indianapolis.

Producing high quantities of a single part at a time maximizes the efficiency of the Voortman. That said, breaking down the machine and setting it up again does not take too long. Keith can turn around the machine to make a new product in less than an hour. Additionally, Kieth has been able to push the capabilities of the machine to discover new uses.

“A skilled operator really does know what the machine’s limitations are and in a lot of cases can do what the machine wasn’t published to do and not hurt the machine,” Mueller says.

For things that the Voortman can’t do, Kloeckner has the auxiliary equipment to compliment it. This makes the facility extremely capable of making a variety of finished parts.

“It was such a welcome addition for us, and it fit our plan so well,” Mueller says. “Our customer base is heavily focused on the construction trade. This was a natural machine to put in this facility.”

Maintenance and Safety

As with most steel fabricating machinery, there are some high wear parts in the machine. To keep the machine running and a mechanical breakdown, Kloeckner keeps a stock of all the high wear parts.

“Any part that could fail, we’ve got a back-up for in-house,” Mueller says.

For safety, the machine is equipped with light curtains on both the infeed and outfeed. This prevents the machine from automatically feeding material in.

“If anybody walks by and breaks that curtain it will shut the machine down and prevent anybody from getting hurt,” Keith says.

For these reasons and more, the Voortman V550-6 is a great machine that provides many capabilities important for any metal fabrication shop. When combined with other capabilities such as a shear, press brake, and plasma and oxy-fuel cutting the shop can create a wide variety of parts entirely in-house. Offering these value-added services is a great way for a metal service center to help their customers.

Steven Nghe
Steven Nghe is currently the Head of Marketing & Communications at Kloeckner Metals. Nghe is a marketing professional with more than 14 years of experience in various environments and industries. His goal is to tell you about the sexy side of steel. Nghe holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. Prior to Kloeckner, Nghe worked for Delta Dental, Wells Real Estate Funds, Georgia Institute of Technology and Doosan.
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