Underneath it all

By Lynn Stanley

Above: To date, Delta Industrial has completed seven foundation and pit projects for PTM tailoring each one to the special needs of the press.

The right foundation is indispensable for efficient, accurate stamping operations

October 2013 - Thomas Jefferson said “Common sense is the foundation of all authorities, of the laws themselves, and of their construction.” Whether underpinning principles or structures, appropriate foundations are necessary for nearly everything. This is especially true for fabricators that rely on stamping presses to help get their products into the hands of their customers. “The proper foundation helps you get the most out of your machine,” says Tom Lytle, vice-president of Delta Industrial, Chesterfield, Mich., the foundation contractor of choice for many major machine
FFJ-1013-stamping-image1and press manufacturers. “It increases the accuracy and efficiency of the press, reduces maintenance and downtime and increases profitability.” Stampers’ need for the right foundations to shore up their machines hasn’t changed much, he explains, but manufacturing’s new normal has introduced trends that are influencing fabricators’ purchasing patterns.

“We’re seeing a demand for more creative solutions,” Lytle says. “Customers are looking for the most cost-effective construction methods for a given situation.  Plants also are retooling to accommodate hot stamping press lines.”
Sometimes called hot forming or press hardening, the process is known for its ability to produce complex parts with a single-step die. Since joining Delta Industrial in 2000, Lytle has seen firsthand another fundamental shift. “We used to work primarily with owners, plant managers and floor managers,” he says. “We had these direct connections. After the downturns our industry has experienced, we find we are dealing with a lot more buyers and purchasing agents. This practice is helping manufacturers manage their resources more effectively but it’s challenging for us because these individuals generally don’t have the same equipment or shop floor knowledge. As a result, we’ve had to become educators.”

Turnkey foundations

Coaching customers less familiar with navigating the landscape of machine operations was a natural step for design-build specialist Delta Industrial. The company has built its reputation on its unique ability to work closely with the manufacturer and customer to generate a foundation specifically tailored to the specialized needs of each project. “We initiate a lot of face-to-face communication with multiple site visits,” Lytle explains. “We take them through the basics and address critical issues like the best way to complete the project without interrupting the customer’s work flow. We walk them through each line item, including OSHA criteria and the types of local government permits that must be obtained. We help give them a thorough understanding of what it will take to get them where they need to
FFJ-1013-stamping-image2 be with the right design-build plan.”

Scott Earle, regional sales manager for Delta Industrial, knows that foundation work is a lot more than just digging and pouring concrete. In addition to its field experience with the design-build process, Delta Industrial provides customers with turnkey services that include rigging for the press. 

When Fair Haven, Mich.-based fabricator PTM purchased a 2,200-ton hydraulic press, the metalformer tapped Delta Industrial for its foundation work, which also included a 1,200-sq.-ft. addition to house the massive machine.

PTM purchased the press to form larger, complex shapes from materials like dual phase steel, a high-strength material with a ferritic and martensitic microstructure. “With the automotive industry pushing for stronger yet lighter parts, we needed a machine that could handle hard-to-form materials like dual and multi-phase steel,” says Donna Kuhr, vice-president for PTM. The fabricator produces a wide range of metal stampings from small clips and fasteners to large structural parts for the automotive, agriculture, building and construction, medical, military and industrial markets. The company also provides services ranging from part design and prototyping to in-house tooling and high-volume production.

Kuhr was already familiar with Delta Industrial through its work on past projects. “Their estimating and field crews are great to work with,” she says. “Each time we call, they respond very quickly. That means a lot today when projects have to move fast to meet new expansion demands. We depend on Delta Industrial to give us a turnkey pit. That means they quote, engineer and install our pit to meet our equipment needs. We’ve worked with them since 2009 for our pit and special project needs because I know I can have Scott and his team look at a project and have confidence that it will be taken care of without any work on my part. They manage each job efficiently while giving us a quality foundation for a cost-competitive price.”


Understanding requirements

After generating a cost quote for the foundation based on press weight and critical clearances supplied by the press manufacturer, Delta Industrial began work for the new pit in May. Another major factor in designing any pit, however, is the load bearing capacity of the underlying soil. Engineers use information from soil borings to optimize their designs. “PTM is just a couple miles from Lake St. Clair, so the earth is made up mostly of water and soft clay,” says Earle. “Our soil engineer described it as toothpaste. Because of the poor soil and weight of the press, we suggested driving a series of I-beams into the ground to help distribute press weight over a larger area and stabilize the machine.”

FFJ-1013-stamping-image4Delta Industrial drove eight steel piles to a depth of 55 ft. below the finished floor of the building. The team placed a 3-ft.-thick base of reinforced concrete, followed by the pit walls and four piers to support the press. Using removable forms for the pit walls, the team continued pouring up to 1 ft. below the finished floor. “Usually work site challenges revolve around operation schedules and getting in and out of the manufacturing facility without interrupting production,” says Earle. “In this case, due to the size of the press, we actually dug the pit in what originally was a parking lot. It meant we were out of their hair and they were out of ours.”

The pit, floor and building footings were completed in August and followed by press installation. “Scott went above and beyond when it came to this project,” says Kuhr. “Our press has a rolling bolster. When the machine was removed from its original location, the rigger had to cut the portion of the bolster cemented into the floor and leave it behind. Scott offered to track down the necessary materials to replace that part of the bolster. He coordinated new bolster materials along with steel plate needed to seal the pit to the press.” By handling these seemingly small details, Earle freed Kuhr and others at PTM to focus on their regular responsibilities. “The quality and work ethic of Scott and his team gave me the assurance that our project was quoted properly and completed the way we wanted it on time and within budget,” says Kuhr.

The press, which had been broken down into nine truckloads of parts, was stacked with a crane in early September. Shortly thereafter the building addition was finished. “There is a lot going on with a tight project such as this one, so communication and execution were a must,” Kuhr says. “The way Delta Industrial managed the project and worked hand-in-hand with the rigger relieved me of having to babysit the project. Despite the magnitude of the job, it was business as usual for us.” Noting this is the seventh pit project Delta Industrial has completed for PTM, Kuhr says “I think the repeat business speaks for itself.” FFJ





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