Customized building manufacturer Hostetler Construction developed an innovative steel truss system more than 50 years ago to help customers meet their needs for decades. Recently the company’s engineering team took their production to the next level by improving efficiency, safety practices and overall quality. In order to achieve such a big task, they moved away from the traditional shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) method and found a completely new way of fixturing.

The final system brought a huge improvement in efficiency, even cutting the manufacturing time in half for some of the larger projects. Source: AdobeThe final system brought a huge improvement in efficiency, even cutting the manufacturing time in half for some of the larger projects. Source: Adobe

Hostetler was previously using an old-fashioned fixturing method for each project, which became very time-consuming once their workload increased. There were too many fixtures that only worked for one project, and they wanted to be more efficient and flexible for future projects.

To achieve this upgrade, Hostetler called on Fronius to help with the conversion from SMAW to gas metal arc welding (GMAW). Once the conversion was underway, Fronius introduced Hostetler to Andersen Industries, the manufacturer of WeldPro 360 MIG Booms, which could seamlessly integrate with the new Fronius equipment by eliminating cord clutter, among other benefits. Hostetler then went on to contract out the design work to develop a single system to handle every joist, rafter and truss built. After a lengthy vetting process, Hostetler decided to go with Bluco for this development work on a modular system.

After the initial installation, it was immediately clear that the fixed anchoring system of the table legs was the limiting factor to the fixture’s efficiency, so the team got back to work and developed an innovative improvement -- a curved floor rail that allows Hostetler to adjust the table’s position to fit a variety of part sizes on-the-fly.

The final system brought a huge improvement in efficiency, even cutting the manufacturing time in half for some of the larger projects. In addition, the system holds each part in a straighter fashion and ensures the tabs are precisely welded to each post and truss, thus providing a flawless design every time. Now there’s way less of a need for management intervention with this new system and it has added huge value to the entire production line.

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