Thursday | 07 December, 2017 | 1:10 pm

Doing the math

By Colin Linneweber

Above: Bimetal M42 blades are long lasting, needing replacement less frequently.

Partnership with blade suppliers ensures structural steel fabricator/erector doesn’t have to work in isolation

December 2017 - “Because we have built, and continue to build, so many large steel structures across the United States, we must align ourselves with the best cutting partners possible to always improve our operation,” says Scott “Scooter” Esmeier, executive vice president of fabrication for Schuff Steel Co. Inc. “We don’t just purchase items from anywhere,” he continues. “We consider Wikus [Saw Technology, Corp.] to be an invaluable partner and that’s why we buy band saw blades from them. Without good partners, you are alone on an island.”

Schuff Steel was founded in 1976 by Dave Schuff and his son, Scott Schuff, in their garage. Over the past four decades, the company has become one of the largest structural steel fabricators and erectors in North America with manufacturing plants in California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Georgia and Florida. Among the high-profile projects on its résumé, the subcontractor has completed the University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006, Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in 2011 and, last year, both of Apple Corp.’s world headquarters in Cupertino, California, and the Golden 1 Center where the Sacramento Kings play basketball. Wikus’ M42 Marathon SW band saw blades helped Schuff Steel trim the beams and plates for all of these jobs.

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One landmark project for which  Schuff Steel fabricated plate and structural sections was The Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas, which used 70,000 tons of steel.

Wikus designs its products to work longer before changing, operate smoothly without causing too much noise, and minimize the need for additional finishing by providing a finer cutting surface.

Esmeier notes that Schuff Steel expects to keep running its band saws with Wikus M42 Marathon SW blades and explains how both companies work alongside Echols Saw & Supply in Phoenix to form “a triangular relationship.”

“We continue to use M42 blades on many projects,” says Esmeier. “With input from Wikus and our distributor, Echols Saw, we have saved our customers a significant amount of time and money. For example, if we have to saw 10,000 pieces of material, Wikus’ blade selection drastically cuts labor and costs. We have seen minutes-per-cut improvements that really add up.

“Too many people look at the cost of a product and not the overall cost of an operation,” Esmeier says. “The cost of a blade is what it is. But when a blade is changed 10 percent less frequently than any other blade, and cuts 205 times faster than any other blade, do the math—financially, it’s a no-brainer. We have partnerships that add great value to Schuff.”

Wikus Saw Technology, established in 1999, manufactures bimetal, carbide, diamond-coated and carbon steel band saw blades. Michael Masters, chief technology officer, explains what makes the Bimetal M42 blades an important tool for Schuff Steel and other cutting operations.

The M42 blades—available sizes including 1⅜ inches by 0.042 inches, 1⅝ inches by 0.05 inches, 2 inches by 0.063 inches, and 2⅝ inches by 0.063 inches—feature high-speed steel tooth tips that are designed to create larger and wider kerf. These blades are especially useful when cutting structural steels, for bundle cutting various tubing and profile shapes, and for band saw operators that experience blade pinching.

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These blades are especially useful when cutting structural steels, bundle cutting tubing and profile shapes, and for saw operators that experience blade pinching.

Kerf measure

“The wider kerf helps reduce the material from closing up or pinching onto the blade,” says Masters. “Blade pinching can be an issue that occurs when cutting structural beams, channels and/or angles. A wider kerf helps reduce the chance that material will bind against the blade. Reducing or eliminating material pinching onto a blade increases uptime and enhances manufacturing production and performance.”

According to Masters, Wikus also periodically provides Schuff Steel with preventive maintenance on its band saw machines. Such upkeep helps identify problems before they occur and resolve machine issues that contribute to unneeded blade consumption.

Echols Saw & Supply also offers Schuff Steel with preventive maintenance for all of its sawing needs at the local level in Phoenix.

Esmeier cites a program that Wikus and Echols co-created to train Schuff Steel’s saw operators and production managers on how to obtain the most effective cutting applications. “We at Schuff are determined to always better ourselves and we partner with suppliers that share our same goals,” he says.

Training operators

“We constantly review all aspects of our production and look for ways to become more productive. To help us, workers at Wikus and Schuff Steel put a program together, including training and onsite meetings, which brought our operators and mangers up to speed on best practices of cutting.”

Since using Wikus blades and working with Echols as its distributor, “I don’t have any issues, or hear about any issues, with cutting,” Esmeir says. “Because there are so many technical aspects to cutting, I focus on my work as a steel fabricator erector and align myself with experts.”

From the Land of Lincoln to the Valley of the Sun, the “triangular relationship” among Wikus, Schuff and Echols has contributed to the completion of numerous iconic American edifices. MM

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