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Metal Fabrication Tools Are Key to Saving Time and Money


“When life shuts a door, open it again. It’s a door after all. That’s how they work.” While we don’t know the door experts to credit for this astute observation, we are familiar with the world-class door devotees CURRIES, fine makers of an array of specialty steel and aluminum doors and frames. Experts in their own right. While doors, as we know, are commonly meant to be opened, many of CURRIES’s designs are fabricated to do the opposite. Thanks to state-of-the-art manufacturing practices and top-notch metal fabrication tools, CURRIES’s award-winning creations can withstand a barrage of natural forces, man-made attacks, and war zones. Even the neighbor’s pesky Chihuahuas wouldn’t stand a chance sneaking through these babies.

The First Doors

How CURRIES came to be is quite an extraordinary tale. It all began in 1895 when Cory Currie and his son, Frank, established the C. Curries & Son Company in Mason City, IA. The hardware company was managed for decades by Currie family descendants. Then came the war.

After World War II, Frank’s son, Richard Currie, joined the company with vigor and gusto and novel ideas to boot. Richard suspected that hollow metal doors would complement his family’s hardware company nicely. Local builders quickly took note.

By 1969, CURRIES had 108,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space and 50+ employees steadfastly manufacturing specialized steel and aluminum doors and frames. The year 1977 added another 25,000 square feet of facility space.

What was a turn-of-the-century hardware store is today a leading American steel and aluminum door manufacturer in the ASSA ABLOY Group family with over 456,000 square feet of factory space.

What’s in a Door?

CURRIES-brand doors and door frames are used in hotels, schools, office buildings, and government embassies across the globe. They are prized by architects for their environmental soundness, energy-saving abilities, safety, and for purely aesthetic reasons. They are pretty darn good-looking if you ask us.

CURRIES is one of the most progressive door makers in its field. Take, for example, its attack-resistant models designed to delay access from intrusions. The doors are used by government and military facilities, schools, refineries, and storage plants. CURRIES’s line of steel and fiberglass-reinforced polyester (FRP) doors can handle a barrage of attacks. Fires, bullets, and blasts beware.

As a member of the Steel Door Institute, all CURRIES doors are applauded for passing stringent testing criteria. Its fire-resistant models can withstand temperatures of 250 to 450 degrees, and its radio-frequency doors, commonly used in healthcare, keep MRI operators safe. You have likely seen CURRIES’s energy-efficient doors in action, complementing the work of famed architects such as Frank Gehry and Thom Mayne. Along with steel and aluminum frames, CURRIES offers composite and steel-stiffened cores.

Lean Manufacturing: Honing the Process

In 2004 CURRIES embarked on a lean manufacturing journey. As part of its continuous improvement mantra, it adopted high-tech manufacturing processes and equipment to help it quickly and accurately produce products to order. Doing so reduced stock and product inventory and saved the company on labor costs. Quickly getting custom products out the door and reducing costs on the factory floor without compromising on quality was the end goal.

CURRIES needed to cut steel and aluminum door parts with tight tolerances and in such a way that would support its drive to become a paperless factory. All of its works stations, including metal fabrication tools such as bandsaws, benders, and punches, had manual fixtures that needed to be adjusted for every single custom order, proving to be incredibly labor-intensive and costly.

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CURRIES’s TigerStops reduce set-up time and increase productivity.

So CURRIES’s team of engineers decided to implement TigerStop and TigerTurbo automated positioners. They would eliminate setting manual stops, reduce waste, increase productivity, achieve tight tolerances, and eliminate the use of paper cut lists on the factory floor, all in a single step.

Doug Schroeder, profit center manager, explains, “One of our biggest goals in the door plant is to take waste out. Wasted productivity, wasted steps, wasted motion. Our engineers did look at several options and chose TigerStop. We have three here in the door plant and two in the frame plant.”

Taking Metal Fabrication Tools Paperless

“In our old days of manufacturing when everything was done by paper, the operator would have to open the book, then go over to his machine, unbolt the stop, measure from wherever he was cutting or punching, tighten it down, double-check it, make sure it didn’t move as he was tightening up the bolts, and of course cut his piece and check it again to make sure it was right,” says Dave Goetzinger, technical marketing manager.

Dave further explains the past headaches associated with change orders and outdated paperwork orders. Not only did they result in cutting the incorrect parts needed, but costly rework if parts reached a jobsite and had to be sent back and reworked. Now, the TigerStop automated fences take all of the guesswork out of setting gauges to dimension and they easily integrate into CURRIES’s data network. Becoming paperless is now a CURRIES reality.

“TigerStop helps us be able to do quantities of setups in a shorter period of time. The information is processed in the front office, downloaded into the TigerStop, the operator basically either just puts in a call number, reads a bar scan on the product, the machine sets up, he cuts it, he punches it, and he is done. Set-up time is reduced, quality is improved. We can do custom material in the time frame it takes our competitors to do standard material,” says Dave.

Flexibility and Accuracy

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CURRIES uses TigerStop and TigerRack metal fabrication automation.

“We tell architects, ‘If you can draw it, we can build it.’ We’ve designed our whole manufacturing philosophy around flexibility. With our new technology, not only is the correct, latest information in front of our operators, but the information is downloaded right into their equipment as well. This reduces errors on the shop floor and operators don’t have to worry about key-in mistakes.”

Dean Peterson, director of sales administration for CURRIES adds, “One of our best-selling tools is bringing customers on a tour of our operations. Once they see our manufacturing facilities and the commitment to quality with our paperless environment, barcode scanning, and accurate automated systems, everyone leaves impressed!”

Learn more about TigerStop’s metal fabrication tools.