Optimizing output

By Nick Wright

American Punch Co.’s heat-treated punch gives Ocean Steel a fabrication edge

January 2012 - Durable and long-lasting punching is crucial for massive structural steel projects to be delivered on time with reliable results. When steel fabricator Ocean Steel first tested American Punch Co.’s SHO punch, the company found it lasted longer than its standard punch.

Among its three plants in Conklin, N.Y.; Fredericton, New Brunswick; and Saint John, New Brunswick, Ocean Steel punches structural steel components with the SHO punch from American Punch, based in Euclid, Ohio. The SHO, or “super high output” punch, debuted in 2009 after years of experimentation and product development. Manufactured in the United States, the SHO comes in round, oblong, square or rectangle punch shapes.

Gorden MacQuarrie, industrial mechanic and head of mechanical maintenance at Ocean Steel, a subsidiary of the OSCO Construction Group, Saint John, New Brunswick, has experienced good results with the SHO punches since running them during the past year. “They’re definitely the most innovative punch I’ve seen in the 37 years I’ve been at Ocean Steel, very dramatic difference,” he says.

Wear resistance
In its three facilities, Ocean Steel processes higher-grade structural steel such as A992 grade 50 and A572 grade 50, which are standard structural grades used for infrastructure and building construction. Common components include angles, girder beams, gusset plates and braces. “We do bridges and buildings and our main goal right now is industrial projects, which would be mines, power plants, high rises—that’s the type of work we do,” says MacQuarrie.

Even without the telling statistics such as hit rates and punch counts that would illustrate one punch’s effectiveness over another, MacQuarrie says the SHO lasted significantly longer than the previous punch during an extensive trial phase—enough to convince Ocean to make the switch. “The operators at Saint John know because they put the punches in and out, and they’re lasting weeks longer than they were before,” he says.

Before American Punch sent Ocean Steel sample SHO punches, Ocean Steel’s operators noticed scoring marks indicating wear on the sides of its existing punches when punching higher-grade steels, which is common in standard punches. The outcome of this scoring was that the punch would deteriorate quicker.

“When you start doing that, you start to get jagged holes, your punch deteriorates faster and it will actually round on the punch end,” MacQuarrie says. “What we find with the SHO is they’re not even scratching after a couple thousand holes. They’re still in good shape and don’t have the scratches on them.”

Heat is on
Longer-lasting punches are a testament to American Punch’s development of the SHO. Its success is a combination of the right material and a proprietary heat treat process. “Together they give you the best opportunity to increase punch life,” says Jovan Vucenovic, vice president of sales at American Punch. “This process increases wear resistance by reducing adhesive and abrasive wear. It gives you the ability to punch four times as many holes as a standard punch would,” which reduces an end-use product’s price for the amount of holes produced.”

Ocean Steel punches mainly three standard round diameters of 13⁄16 in., 15⁄16 in. and 11⁄16 in. “We’ve done them all now with the SHO,” MacQuarrie says. For example, if Ocean Steel is using its 13⁄16 punch day-in and day-out on 1⁄4-in. to 1-in. plate, “we’re averaging, according to our operator, two to three weeks whereas before you wouldn’t get a week. It’s a big difference.”

“The punch is only going to be as good as the setup is,” Vucenovic says. “Knowing this, the SHO punch can and will take more abuse from poor set-up than standard punches would. But this punch was developed to increase productivity and tool life, not to aid improper setup. These punches were designed with high output in mind associated with the angle, plate and beam lines but are also available for the ironworkers as well. We can manufacture them for any style, shape or size, but what we have right now is an inventory of some of the more common structural sizes,” he says.

In its three facilities, Ocean Steel uses the SHO on its array of machines that include Peddinghaus Anglemasters, plate duplicators and other equipment including a Piranha P-40 ironworker and a SEP-120 punch press in the Saint John facility. A typical workflow with the Anglemaster, for example, involves shearing angle, which comes in 40-ft. lengths, and punching holes for bolts where needed. Parts are then assembled and sent to the paint shop before shipping.

Similarly, the duplicators use the SHO to punch holes in plate and flat bar that become gusset or base plates for bridges, according to MacQuarrie. The duplicator can process large pieces such as 6 ft. by 6 ft. by 1⁄2 in. or 8 ft by 8 ft. by 1⁄2 in. In other instances, Ocean Steel punches holes for 4 ft. by 4 ft. angle bracings that get bolted together. “They’re being punched, painted, assembled and sent out as a unit to be erected into a building,” he says.

The company ships fabricated steel for projects along the East Coast as far as New York City and throughout Canada. Ocean Steel’s erection crews travel on-site to ensure its assemblies are installed properly. “We’re shipping steel out to Alberta and Manitoba right now,” says MacQuarrie.

Currently, Ocean Steel’s fabrication is sustaining a healthy business. Its Canadian plants are running two shifts, while the New York plant is running one. The company recently completed a two-year structural steel project for a large potash mine in Sussex, New Brunswick.

Working together
Ocean Steel has maintained nearly a two-decade relationship with American Punch. “When they started doing some innovative changes to their punches, we just stuck with them ever since,” MacQuarrie says. However, the SHO is the most recent benchmark of success.

When Vucenovic first sent American Punch sample SHO punches, the results were immediate. “We tried it and it blew me away and blew the operator away. He couldn’t believe it,” MacQuarrie says. “He said it should be worn out but he kept bringing it in every day. He’d look at it and it was still good. So we placed an order … and every one of them stood up.”

The strong relationship American Punch has with Ocean Steel is important, which is why American Punch works to foster such relationships with all its customers.

“We at American Punch are committed to building lasting relationships with our customers,” Vucenovic says. “We do this by always keeping their interest and needs first.” FFJ

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  • American Punch Co.
    Euclid, Ohio
    phone: 800/243-1492
    fax: 800/261-6270
  • Ocean Steel/The OSCO Construction Group
    Saint John, New Brunswick
    phone: 506/632-2600
    fax: 506/632-7689


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