What if we told you that your aluminum profile saw could make the perfect cut every single time? That scrap and rework could be virtually eliminated in your shop? Well, it’s true! And it’s easier than you think. If you work with aluminum extrusions, this is a story you’re going to want to read.
On September 6, 1942, the US Army Corps of Engineers awarded Frank Hobbs of Seattle, Washington, with an army contract for prefabricated Pacific Huts. Hobbs, an inventor and entrepreneur from the Pacific Northwest, had succeeded in designing the troop housing using a lighter weight alternative wood material to wartime precious steel, resulting in millions of dollars saved.
Hobbs, a wanderlust who never graduated from high school, had a knack for creating ingenious solutions to large engineering and manufacturing problems. He particularly enjoyed experimenting with better building materials and can be accredited for inventing a low-cost tile substitute.
In 1946, Hobbs began working with aluminum extrusions as a cost-effective alternative to ferrous metal. And Futura Industries was born. Today, Futura is known as Bonnell Aluminum.
When the Line Between Customer and Supplier Blurs
Fast-forward some 50 years. A short 188 miles south of Frank Hobbs, in nearby Vancouver, Washington, another inventor and entrepreneur, Spencer Dick, is developing a manufacturing solution to solve cut-off-related inaccuracies and production inefficiencies. Spencer’s machine, coined a TigerStop, is a cost-effective solution empowering manufacturers to take control of their cutting and produce accurate parts in fractions of the time.
So when Spencer is faced with deciding what material to build TigerStop machinery with, aluminum extrusions from Futura Industries are the obvious choice. Aluminum is incredibly strong, lightweight, and naturally resistant to corrosion. What Spencer didn’t expect was that TigerStop’s aluminum extrusion supplier would shortly become a customer as well.
TigerStop chatted with Jared Bringhust, manufacturing process engineer at Bonnell Aluminum for some insight. Jared explained that the company began supplying TigerStop with aluminum extrusions, which TigerStop in turn used as an integral component of their machinery.
“Prior to using TigerStops, we [Bonnell Aluminum] struggled with length and angle accuracy on our end-cuts due to the constant tightening, loosening, and repositioning of our backstops. We spent far more time, sometimes 10 or more minutes, hand loosening clamps and bolts, sliding backstops, and then re-tightening bolts to secure our saw backstop.” The production team also had to deal with “length discrepancies, which turned into scrap or rework,” explains Jared.
This time-suck in production not only had wear and tear on the bottom line, but more importantly, on the employees. “We experienced complaints about wrist pain and hand pain due to repetitive setups.”
So, as Jared describes, the decision to purchase TigerStop machinery for their aluminum profile saw was universally accepted. “TigerStops really are a no-brainer. They resolve so many issues involving productivity and accuracy!”
Not Just for Aluminum Profile Saws
Bonnell Aluminum quickly began retrofitting their existing saws to incorporate TigerStop fences, pushers, and backstops. “We now have 4 TigerStops in operation in two of our buildings. Three are used on chop saws and one is used on a larger radial arm saw. Two of them are used as back gauges and two are used to push feed material through the saw.”
As Bonnell Aluminum outlines: “Our company-wide approach to lean manufacturing drives our team to seek new methods for combining aluminum extrusion operations, simplifying tasks, and minimizing material handling. With our nimble, flexible approach to manufacturing, we can quickly implement quality improvements and scrap reduction techniques. We employ a wide variety of operational efficiencies, from small process tweaks to major equipment upgrades.”
Combating scrap waste and production inefficiencies while improving employee work environments has resulted in Bonnell Aluminum’s immense growth. The company has since relocated to Clearfield, Utah, and takes up an impressive 450,000+ square feet. They also produce aluminum profiles of virtually any size conceivable.
“We’ve always enjoyed a great relationship with TigerStop, both as a customer and as a supplier. In some cases, we have sent our TigerStops in for upgrades or to be refurbished, and the turnaround time is very quick and painless, and the setup of new TigerStops has gone very well,” says Jared.
Today, TigerStop is proud to have such an outstanding relationship with Bonnell Aluminum, a company that shares its roots in the great Pacific Northwest and a mission of providing innovative manufacturing solutions.