While it's certainly niche, roll forming is still like any other metal manufacturing process. A little collaborative engineering and a lot of lean manufacturing practices equal mutual success.
Your roll forming manufacturer should involve its engineers at the very onset of your component design. This ensures your parts come out in the most efficient and economical way.
This is just a taste of the full-service experience you deserve and should expect from a metal roll forming company:
What is a True Full-Service Roll Forming Manufacturer?
To work with a single-source supplier is to enjoy the benefits of collaborative engineering:
- Receive expert advice on choosing the optimal material for your application
- Eliminate expensive, time-consuming secondary operations by identifying opportunities to punch holes, notches, or tabs in-line with roll forming tools
- Improve your original part design to work flawlessly with the other components in your system
Once a program is up and running, there are several external factors that could potentially affect a component’s unit-price throughout its life cycle. These factors include:
- Material price fluctuation
- Packaging improvements made over time
- Producing smaller batches to address changing demand
Your partner's custom roll forming capabilities should include keeping consistent fabrication price by mitigating or eliminating such influences.
Roll Forming Advantages (With the Right Partner)
A supplier-OEM relationship should be more than just a hasty transaction of roll formed parts. A roll former's multi-level service package can include the following:
1. Set-up Time Reduction
Hopefully your manufacturer uses "pit crew"-style setup teams to minimize machine downtime. This allows you to order small cycles when necessary while keeping fabrication costs low.
2. Informed Material Buys
The advantages of roll forming are moot if your supplier isn't fully helping you achieve savings.
Your partner should keep raw material costs transparent and monitor steel markets closely. If a good deal on stainless steel arises, your supplier should advise accordingly and pass the savings onto you.
3. Monitored Performance Data
Does your roll former back up its claims?
Your partner should make sure your roll formed shapes arrive on-time and meet your quality expectations. For reference, Dahlstrom consistently achieves an on-time delivery rate of 99% or more and a field quality defect PPM of less than 750.
4. Dynamic Inventory Management
Your manufacturer should employ point-of-use feedback to develop the ideal Kanban consumption profile for your company. A seasonally adjusted, simple Kanban system results in immediate component availability while inventory turns remain high.
5. Supply System Reviews
Any good supplier meets with customers on a regular basis to discuss:
- Detailed usage data
- Raw material pipeline status and market price trends
- Any component design or process changes potentially coming up soon
This keeps all parties on the same page and ahead of the curve should issues within the supply chain develop.
Roll Forming at Dahlstrom
As you can see, the roll forming process is complicated, but definitely worth it with the right partner.
When it comes to supplying original equipment components, Dahlstrom is the leading roll forming service in the world, with over 115 years of experience.
Our quality system metrics equal those of world-class companies 10x larger than us. We work with you to develop a full-service package that guarantees we understand your consumption profile as well as you do.
If you have any interest in working with a roll former who has the capacity and agility to meet the dynamic needs of your fast-paced industry, contact us below.
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2016 and was recently updated.)
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There are four main metal forming services used in the manufacturing industry today: press braking, stamping, extrusion, and roll forming. Each of these forming methods has distinct advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the best service for your application will rely on quite a few factors.
People not familiar with roll forming usually need some education regarding our machines’ capabilities and limitations -- even those who regularly work with sheet metal forming. There’s a reason skilled roll form engineers are a coveted resource --- this is complicated stuff.