Special edition: How Are Metal Roofs Manufactured?
October 7, 2016 is Manufacturing Day in the United States and we look forward to participating with tours of our 115,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Piqua, Ohio. During these tours, we will educate close to 100 area students as to what a career in manufacturing can look like. Our tours allow us to show the entire process of metal roofing production and are something that we love to give. Whenever contractors visit us here in Ohio, it seems like the plant tour is always the highlight of their visit.
In 1980, 20 million Americans worked in manufacturing. Today, that number is 12 million. While the number has declined, we at Classic Metal Roofing Systems are determined to do our part in keeping manufacturing a vibrant part of the North American economy, providing stable, gainful employment to hard working men and women. Just one of the ways we do that is through our exporting. Each year, about 40% of our total production is shipped outside of the United States.
We believe that there is something special about manufacturing and, in this issue of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, we want to share some of the details that go into producing specialty residential metal roofing. Some of what we have to say may really surprise you! And, if you currently market metal roofing, it may be of great interest to your customers.
A great deal goes into planning, from raw material acquisition through production. We purchase our metals from top quality USA metal mills that are required to meet our exacting standards. The metal is then shipped from the mills to USA coil coating facilities where it is cleaned, pre-treated, primed, painted, and baked. Again, all done to meet our standards. The total length of time from when raw metal is ordered until we receive painted metal is 10 – 12 weeks in most cases. In order to meet customer needs across our wide variety of products and colors, we must maintain high inventory levels at our manufacturing plants, and we must carefully schedule our shop floor production.
At Isaiah Industries, we go “above and beyond” to ensure the quality of our product that reaches consumers. As a result of the steps we take, all of our products are certified as Premium Quality by the Metal Construction Association (MCA). We are one of just five companies producing products that are certified by this leading trade association for metal in the construction industry. The Quality Control process starts with the raw materials we specify. Again, everything is USA-made and the coatings we use – our PVDF finishes – are widely recognized as the most durable coatings available today, including fade and chalk resistance. Our Quality process really kicks into gear at the coil coating plants where our metal is painted while still in coil form. Many times when this process occurs, our Director of Quality Assurance or our CFO are present at the coating facility to watch over the process. While these coatings are subjected to a wide variety of quality control tests at the coil coating facility, we re-do each and every one of those tests at our plant before the painted coils of metal are released to our shop floor for fabrication. These steps include tests for the paint’s color, gloss, flexibility, thickness, hardness, and adhesion. Once the metal reaches our production work cells, our manufacturing processes including visual inspection of each and every part by one of our trained, skilled, and experienced manufacturing team members are followed with painstaking precision.
It surprises many people when they learn that our products are produced AFTER the metal is painted. (The only exception being our exclusive ThermoBond powder PVDF color offerings that have a textured multi-hued finish applied on top of the standard finish after the products are produced.) Our products are produced on rollforming machines, press brakes, and stamping presses up to 800-ton capacity. The metal shingles are stamped on progressive transfer dies – with some products being stamped as many as eight times before the final part is produced. In addition to our Quality Control checks, our visual parts inspection verifies the performance of the coatings we use. Again, these procedures allow us to meet MCA Premium Quality standards and produce products that protect and beautify homes for a lifetime.
Getting our product safely to our customers is also top priority, and not always easy in what can sometimes be a “rough and tumble” world of today’s high-speed shipping and transportation. Our product packaging methods are tested and approved, and under continuous evaluation. We also carefully monitor all carriers we use and we discontinue using carriers who fall short of their commitments either in terms of product safety or timeliness. Each shipment is analyzed for what is on the shipment and where it is going and “extra beefy” packaging methods are employed when deemed necessary.
Again, we think manufacturing is a great thing and so important to the United States and Canada. We also know that manufacturing is about far more than just equipment and tooling. It is about the people who do the planning, watch over quality, run the machines, and inspect, pack, and ship the products. People are such a huge part of manufacturing and that is why we greatly look forward to sharing what we do with students during our Manufacturing Day tours. If you’d ever like to tour our primary manufacturing plant in Piqua, Ohio, let us know. We’re proud of what our team members do and would love to show it to you.
Feel free to comment below and let us know if you have any questions about metal roofing or how it is produced. If it’s of interest, there is a video online showing our manufacturing process. You can also reply to us via email or call us at 1-800-543-8938.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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