Peddinghaus is a company with German roots that has grown into a powerhouse of innovation when it comes to building the machines that fabricate structural steel that build a range of venues, from airports to stadiums. Lorie Greenspan reports on how this century old company remains a key player in today’s global market.
Anywhere there’s a road, bridge or building, there’s probably a Peddinghaus machine behind the scenes. That is to say, if you see a steel beam angling into the sky at a construction site, chances are a Peddinghaus tool went to work fabricating that beam.
And for some, there are none better than the tools manufactured by Peddinghaus. Consider Mifflin Construction in Leominster, Herefordshire, U.K., a structural steel fabricator that not only uses Peddinghaus equipment, but well, swears by it. Alan Mifflin, in an article on Peddinghaus’ Web site, attests to the superiority not only of the machines, but of the people who make them. “There are several reasons why this equipment is preferred,” he stresses. “The machines are strong and robust, with a long life expectancy. In addition, the Peddinghaus machine operators were always more enthusiastic and happy to discuss their machine.” The competitors, he emphasizes, “were not.” Also, he adds: “Peddinghaus takes the guesswork out of shop productivity.”
What better testimony to the expertise of a company that has been serving the steel construction, plate fabrication, and metal working industries since 1903? Today, Peddinghaus maintains engineering, customer service, and production facilities in Bradley, Ill.; Gevelsberg, Germany, Vitoria, Spain, and Andrews, S.C., and remains dedicated to engineering expertise focused on machine productivity. It maintains the largest staff of field service technicians and customer support in the industry.
“The company is 103 years old, and is still owned by the Peddinghaus family,” notes President Michael Sharp. Founded in Germany, Peddinghaus bought its facility in Bradley in 1975, and in 1995 moved its headquarters to the U.S. “They bought the U.S. operation to expand their machine tool manufacturing in North America,” explains Sharp, although Peddinghaus does retain its presence in Germany.
Peddinghaus is well known for the machine tools it manufactures that are used in the fabrication of structural steel in design/build projects that include residential complexes, hotels, airports and stadium facilities; these have included many casinos in Las Vegas, Coors Field in Denver; Ravens Stadium in Baltimore; the New York Times building in New York City, Arizona Cardinals Stadium in Phoenix and many airports expansions, including Miami International Airport. “We have a wall of fame that allows our customers to provide us with their favorite projects,” Sharp notes, adding the company supplies many of the best known steel fabricators in the industry.
In the last several years the industry has seen a shift toward automation, he adds, which has been a boon to Peddinghaus’ operation. “Fifteen years ago the large fabricators employed 250 or more,” he explains. “Now we see a trend toward more automated shops, which will be the big driver because of the inability to get qualified labor. There aren’t a lot of young people wanting to get into the industry, so companies are seeing more of a need to automate.”
In terms of the global market, the uptick in mining activity has also played out well for Peddinghaus, because of the construction work needed to build infrastructure in mining communities that sprout up quickly where the mining activity is.
Lords of the Ring
To support all this construction the company has innovated many unique products. Its most recent is what it dubs the “ring of fire,” which sounds like a science fiction amulet but is really the next standard in multi-tasking machines from Peddinghaus.
“It’s now in the R&D phase but we believe it could revolutionize the industry,” stresses Lyle Menke, vice president of marketing. The technology is actually an addition to the company’s popular Anglemaster angle line, which performs automatic punching, marking and shearing of miscellaneous shapes. Included now in the Angle Line AFCPS lineup is the Peddinghaus Anglemaster AFCPS-623 and the Peddinghaus Anglemaster AFCPS-823.
This newest machine will utilize various technologies; specifically a plasma torch to process the entire structural shape or section, effectively offering one process to pierce, create cuts or openings or any number of shapes for a finished product. It is called the ring of fire because of the way the machine is designed. “The section enters the machine and the plasma torch rotates in a circular motion around the beam,” Menke says. The company plans to introduce the machine next April at the North American Steel Construction Conference.
Other products in the company’s lineup include its Peddimat beam drill line that has become the industry standard of structural steel fabricators throughout the world with over 1,400 installations. In particular, the Beam Drill Line PCD-1100 is an excellent steel fabricating machine for the small to medium sized fabricators. The flagship product is the Beam Drill Line model BDL-1250, dubbed the workhorse of the Peddinghaus portfolio – used in virtually all major steel construction projects.
In the areas of plate drilling and thermal cutting, Peddinghaus corporation pioneered the concept of using the Peddimat roller feed drive and measuring system to combine the functions of drilling, marking, contouring and unloading of plate components. This complete plate processing system permits the loading of stock plates and final completion of contoured finished parts without any manual intervention.
According to the company, users report that the one-pass design concept of the FPDB 1800 maximizes plate productivity by eliminating unnecessary material handling. The safety hazards normally associated with multiple parts handling of heavy plate sections is also reduced by the efficient design. Savings of up to 80 percent in material handling and labor also have been reported.
In the areas of drill, punch, plasma and oxy cutting Peddinghaus offers the FPDB 2500 and FPDB 1800 high speed models that are equipped with oxy & plasma cutting torches, triple tool punch, carbide drilling capabilities, and a carbide part marking system. The system eliminates plate fabrication bottleneck and enables companies to capitalize on the shop floor space saving design.
The company’s Powerhaus FPDB 1800/3 incorporates the technologies of punching, high speed drilling, scribe marking, and thermal cutting via plasma or oxy-fuel into one machine. This unique machine processes flat bar and plate stock from one-quarter to three-inch thickness with capacity of up to 72 inches wide and 20-foot in-feed length. Depending on part thickness, multiple hole diameters can be created via punching or drilling. The operator can then choose plasma or oxy-fuel thermal cutting to cut to any contoured shape or length.
And finally, in the areas of plate punch and thermal cutting Peddinghaus engineering has successfully combined plate punching, plasma cutting, and plate marking in one CNC system for the fabrication of heavy plates. Peddinghaus pioneered the peddimat roller feed drive and measuring system for the efficient processing of plates and structural steel in the plate fabrication industry.
Peddinghaus also has designed and manufactured material handling systems for structural steel for the past five decades. Though Peddinghaus has custom engineered hundreds of material handling systems throughout the world, it is fair to say that no two systems are the same. Knowing that each firm’s immediate requirements, long term goals, and physical plants differ, Peddinghaus offers design flexibility in the form of a modular building block system that employs standard material handling elements that can be configured to provide a customized material flow and desired capability to increase throughput and bottom line.
Giving its huge presence in the industry for more than a century, it’s a good bet that a Peddinghaus machine will be building the steel that supplies the superstructures of the future. In this way, Peddinghaus will keep inventing and innovating to ensure it has every angle of the industry covered.