Plasma Technology
Monday | 24 October, 2011 | 1:59 pm

Not another throwaway

By Gretchen Salois

A company that understands its customers aren’t disposable

October 2011 - Consumables are just that, made to do a job and be discarded when worn out. The key is to find a high-quality product that can do more before requiring replacement. American Torch Tip Co., Bradenton, Fla., makes it a point to provide quality consumables, torches, guns and replacement parts at an affordable price.

In a market where it’s either feast or famine, it pays to be proactive, says Steve Weber, plant manager at BC Steel Buildings, Oklahoma City, a metal building manufacturer of commercial buildings, high schools, churches, casinos and manufacturing and industrial facilities. BC Steel rolls the panel and red iron of the primary frames of these buildings. “ATTC stepped up to get our business,” he says. “It all sounded too good to be true in the beginning. I was kind of leery of switching consumables, but ATTC convinced me to give them a shot.”

ATTC sent a technician to BC Steel and offered to let the company use one of its heads for 30 days. “We use the plasma to cut out the components to manufacture our frames, which are fabricated out of flange and plate steel,” Weber says. “Cutting out the connection plates and clips requires multiple pierces, so the amount of pierces a set of consumables can produce is a big deal to us,” he says.

“It’s all about the dollar. If I can save $20 on a set of consumables that will run longer to begin with, it’s a win-win for the company,” Weber says. BC Steel put its first plasma machine into production four years ago and the second last year.

“Plasmas have opened a lot of other markets for us, [such as] specialty manufacturing and cutting for tool companies and machine shops,” Weber says. ATTC converted BC Steel’s HPR260 to PHD260 and Hypro2000 to an ATTC PHD system. Weber says the availability of the consumables is better, especially for the Hypro2000. “We’re getting more cuts out of it,” he says. “We make our judgments based on the amount of pierces that a set makes, and we found the Hypro2000 is better and the cut in costs is a plus.”

Converting conventional plasma to high precision requires a complete system upgrade including power supply, leads, gas console, software and torches at a cost upwards of $70,000, according to Bill Schriver, sales manager at ATTC. “[The] ATTC PHD system accomplishes similar results at a fraction of the costs at $1,200 to $1,500,” Schriver says. “Additionally, our torch body comes with a lifetime warranty.” ATTC is expanding the PHD line to include HPR260XD and HPR400XD.

The push for tighter tolerances
With the assortment of plasmas, lasers and waterjets available, tolerances have become tighter and tighter, says Jim Giambelluca, maintenance supervisor at Samuel, Son & Co. Ltd., at the Blasdell, N.Y., service center location. Samuel’s corporate headquarters is in Mississauga, Ontario, with service centers located throughout North America, the U.K., Australia and China. “I’ve tried different companies. Everyone has always tried to upgrade and be cheaper. With ATTC, their quality is equal to or greater than competitors’ options and the cost is in my range,” Giambelluca says.

“I pushed for them to get in with some local companies—I have a really good working relationship with ATTC,” Giambelluca continues. “The cut quality is pristine. You have to be able to push the limit a little bit and up your speeds. There is a suggested speed in the book that says you can run this machine this fast at this thickness—we can push that to get more speed with the same cut quality using ATTC consumables.”

ATTC converted Samuel’s Hypertherm HPR260 to an ATTC PHD system. Samuel can cut anywhere from 0.24 inch to 1.25 inches. Samuel used to work on railcars for General Electric Co. “A lot of really pushing-the-limit-type jobs,” Giambelluca says. “With plasma cutters, you’re always going to have a little bit of a bevel, especially on the inner hole, but our quality is fantastic. We’ve kept everyone happy.”

Samuel uses the ATTC consumables in its work for Gorbel cranes, one of the company’s largest customers. “We make the long strips that they form and make runways for their cranes,” Giambelluca says. The company previously worked on base plates for GE railcars, creating holes and slots that GE would then place motors through and build the actual locomotive with that part. He adds Samuel’s work with the rail industry has tapered off as the industry has diminished.

As work comes along, Giambelluca says the company is happy to have it. “You’re taking anything and everything,” he says. “Anything that keeps you busy.” Previously, the company worked primarily with mild steel. “Just [the other] week I had to get some stainless steel cut for a customer,” Giambelluca says. “We just cut our first order of stainless steel yesterday and it came out beautifully—again, a great job done with the ATTC stainless steel consumables.”

ATTC manufactures its products in the United States but serves customers in approximately 54 countries. “Quality is our focus. Pricing or competitive pricing doesn’t offer anyone value unless the products’ performance is seen at its best,” Schriver says.

Timely and personal service
Turnaround time can make the difference when comparing one company to another. “If I call at 2:30 in the afternoon and say, ‘I need these cut by the morning,’ ATTC gets it here by the morning. Other companies make excuses,” Giambelluca says. “ATTC is very helpful. They understand your end of the business and that you can’t wait either.”

The people-friendly approach of ATTC may be in part because it’s a family-run operation. “The Walters family views their relationship with their customers [as] very personal,” Schriver says. “We try to treat our relationships as family more so than just customers.”

Customers can see for themselves when visiting ATTC’s shop floor. “They really do care about each customer’s concerns,” Giambelluca says. “I’ve had the opportunity to fly down there and see the facility and how everything is working. There are actual Walters family members working there. They’re not just in suits sitting at desks, which surprised me because I don’t see that often. These guys are pushing their product, trying to make it better. That impressed me. With it being an American-made product, there’s not many of those anymore.” MM

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