The Gulf Coast’s top-tier mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contractor, Gallo Mechanical, has over seven decades of experience helping customers with HVAC maintenance, plumbing repairs, fabrication, design, 3D BIM modeling, installations, and more. Its culture of service has played an important role in making its vision possible. But even the greats have to rethink how they do things from time to time. This type of continuous improvement is exactly what has kept Gallo Mechanical at the forefront of its industry for so many years. Keep reading to learn how Gallo Mechanical stopped flushing its profits down the drain with the use of one unsuspecting piece of equipment. Pun absolutely intended.
Gallo Mechanical’s humble beginnings date to 1945. The Gallo brothers, August and Louis, cobbled together $800 to begin Gallo Plumbing Company. After World War II, the housing boom in New Orleans was taking off, and the brother’s provided plumbing work for all of the newly emerging homes.
In the late ’60s, Gallo Plumbing Company started expanding its services and entered the commercial market, eventually changing its name to Gallo Mechanical Contractors Inc. in the process. Growth continued, and Gallo Mechanical began to perform a significant amount of piping construction, civil work, carpentry, and concrete work, and late in the mid-’80s, HVAC services. In 1996 a $100 million dollar project, the New Orleans Superdome, or as we know it today, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, put Gallo Mechanical on the international map. Today, all six of August Jr.’s children and four of his grandchildren are contributing to the Gallo Mechanical legacy.
Gallo Mechanical LLC is able to tackle complex problems thanks to a loyal workforce of team members who feel just as dedicated as the family members who are now third and fourth generation leaders.
“Gallo is special because of the family atmosphere. There are a lot of long time employees who work here. And they are here for a reason,” explains Ray McDonald, general manager and fabrication coordinator at Gallo Mechanical. He has been with the company for over 23 years. Ray is dedicated to serving Gallo Mechanical and has made it his goal to ensure that the factory he oversees and its fabrication methods are constantly adapting and improving.
TigerStop Efficiency May Be Bad for Business
Over-purchasing raw material for a job is a common practice and one that Gallo Mechanical was familiar with for many years. “We were previously ordering 10% extra material for each job, knowing fully well we would produce scrap waste during the cutoff process. Ordering a surplus of material allowed room for error and protected us, or so we thought, from running out of material on a specific job,” explains Ray.
Ray realized that purchasing extra material was a huge indicator of scrap-related problems, so he set out to fix the root of the scrap problem. Ray was in a mechanical contractor/manufacturer peer group with an industry contact and close friend Doug Smith of Dynamic Systems Inc. (DSI). Doug had been talking up his new TigerStop material positioner and pusher system, used by DSI in its copper tube- and pipe-cutting division. It had significantly reduced scrap waste and increased throughput.
“So of course, I paid Doug’s manufacturing facility a visit. It went well. Even before I was back home at the Gallo Mechanical prefab shop I already had a TigerStop ordered. The TigerStop was built quickly and shipped our way. We set it up and ran the machine for two days. What happened next was quite surprising,” explains Ray.
“I called our Vice President, Bryan Gallo, and left him a vague and fairly curt voicemail telling him, ‘We had to shut the TigerStop down. Call me later.’ Well, he received my message and immediately called back demanding I tell him what was going on,” says Ray with a tone of mischief in his voice.
“I had to explain to Bryan that in two days, the TigerStop cut so much material, so quickly, that we were out of room to store the finished processed material! We cut three weeks’ worth of material in two days!”
That’s probably the best “angry” voicemail Bryan Gallo has ever received.
Stop Manufacturing Scrap
What caused Gallo’s productivity to skyrocket so quickly in just two days?
“Up until the TigerStop’s installation we had anywhere from 8-10 fabricators working non-stop cutting pieces and assembling pipe. Now, we only have 1 operator cutting parts on the TigerStop and the rest of the team is feeding material, offloading the finished pieces, and assembling as they go. The new TigerStop system is so fast and so accurate that we only need to have 1 guy cutting,” shares Ray.
The TigerStop system is used to cut an array of material from copper, PVC, Aquatherm and Uponor pipe, and other plastics. “While some of the smaller copper parts we cut can cost $1 per foot, some materials, for example, Aquatherm pipe, can range from $12-$14 a foot. You can understand why we want to be accurate when cutting Aquatherm. It is wildly expensive and the scrap costs add up quickly.”
“We use our TigerStop to cut varying types of material and it’s working out so well. Before we were pulling out a tape measure, marking pieces, and cutting everything by hand. Now we are cutting everything with repeatable precision on the TigerStop. We are taking advantage of TigerLink 6, TigerStop’s Cut List Downloading software, to send jobs directly to the TigerStop for processing, rather than relying on paper cut lists. It’s not only greener, it’s more efficient than our previous methods.”
Even Byron Sharp, who recently began working in Gallo Mechanical’s fabrication shop, has borne witness to the success of the new TigerStop. “It speeds everything up. Scrap wise, there is little to none.
“Operators can be wary of implementing new technology. I truly thought my guys would fight me about using the TigerStop, but they love it,” says Ray with a sigh of relief.
Saving 10 Percent on Each and Every Job
“Not only is our TigerStop helping us save on scrap, it has saved us an incredible amount of money on raw material purchases. Because we wanted to forecast and take into account potential scrap waste, we would always order extra material. Now, instead of ordering 10% more material for each and every job, we order the exact amount of material needed. We are saving 10% on each and every single job we bid going forward. 10%!”
Purchasing just enough material makes it possible to pinpoint exactly where issues arise in the manufacturing process. Ray can now buy just enough material for each job going forward, automatically saving Gallo Mechanical 10 percent on raw material costs per job. Ray’s team is saving money while producing many times the amount of work than before.
3D BIM Modeling Software + MEP Manufacturing
An added benefit of using TigerStop in the MEP construction and manufacturing industries is that it’s able to work well with 3D BIM modeling software.
Ray and his team are currently in talks with Todd Liebbe of GTP to implement STRATUS software on the Autodesk Forge platform.
“The software will give us the ability to connect our 3D BIM Modeling and our TigerStop. It will close the information loop and allows us to track the parts being cut from our models, print custom labels onto those parts, and update the 3D model so we know what portion of it has been, and still needs to be, cut. I think after we run some of our jobs through this next software demo we should be set.”
MEP Contractors in the Age of Technology
Gallo is at the forefront of MEP manufacturing technology. The new machinery and software systems come in handy as MEP contractors take on larger projects, such as the contract Gallo was awarded in 2018. “We are excited about an upcoming high-profile project, the Four Season’s Hotel inside the former New Orleans World Trade Center. It’s the first of its kind in the city and should be kicking off shortly,” explains Ray. The hotel is set to open early in 2021.
The cost savings and time savings of Gallo Mechanical’s new machinery and software allows the company to produce higher-quality work for its clients, and faster. And Gallo can pass its savings on to its customers, which fits perfectly with its corporate culture of service. This is a unique company culture in which it’s consistently and adeptly anticipating. Anticipating what its customers need before they need it. Providing excellent solutions to problems, listening, helping, and forming relationships. Gallo continues to bring honor to its team by holding itself accountable and always taking the high road. And it accomplishes all of this while having some fun!
Click to learn more about TigerStop solutions for MEP contractors/manufacturers.