Tradition of excellence

By Lisa Rummler

October 2010 - I.L. Richards opened Ogden, Utah-based Richards Sheet Metal Works Inc. in 1928. During the Depression, he and his brothers manufactured stills for bootleggers, small tin bathtubs for Japanese immigrants and watering troughs for the U.S. Forest Service.

Around that time, the company had a manually operated hand brake and just one hand shear, which could handle 1/16-in. steel. Further, all the employees owned their own hand tools.

"We've come a long way since the days when the four Richards brothers made stills, troughs and bathtubs in a 400-sq.-ft. shop," according to the company's website. "These days, we manufacture precision parts for baggage conveyors, airplanes, fully automated warehouses, food-processing plants and gold-mining equipment.

"With machines that allow us to make more complex parts faster and better than ever before, our business is changing. Today, our factory-floor employees are as adept with a computer as a pair of tin snips."

Today, Steve Richards, the grandson of the company's founder, is running the show. He remains committed to staying true to the business' foundational values while continuing to increase its scope, says Dee Roskelley, vice president of procurement and manufacturing technology.

"It's a three-generation company, and the owner, Steve Richards, has done a fantastic job in reinvesting in technology and equipment," says Roskelley.

One example of this is a V25 APC vertical automatic band saw from Hyd-Mech Group Ltd., Woodstock, Ontario. Richards Sheet Metal Works purchased the saw about two years ago, and the decision to do so stemmed from a long and productive history with another Hyd-Mech saw, says Roskelley.

"We had such a good experience with the V18, a smaller automatic shuttle compound mitering saw that Hyd-Mech made, we were really dead-set on getting another Hyd-Mech," he says. "When we made that purchase, it was a significant upgrade from our old V18, which was quite old and had quite a few miles on it.

"What we liked about the V25 is the multiple options for clamping and shuttling, its 25-in.-capacity throat and how far it could miter both directions."

Myriad applications
Roskelley describes Richards Sheet Metal Works as a job shop precision fabricator. The company serves a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, mining, automotive, food and medical.

Richards Sheet Metal Works uses the V25 for all its cutting needs for steel and stainless steel products. The company works with aluminum and alloy, which it also cuts with the V25.

"It's a large saw, and it does everything from flat bar to big, heavy round solid [bar] to tubing to I-beam to angle," says Roskelley. "But it can handle delicate things and light stuff, as well. We've done it all with it."

Additionally, the V25 has helped improve productivity throughout the company's operation, especially after Richards Sheet Metal Works made a personnel change, says Roskelley.

"I'm going to say, initially, we saw an improvement of 15 percent," he says. "But then we realized our improvements were still somewhat hampered by having a key operator on the saw, and we encouraged a guy back to [operate it]."

Roskelley notes the operator's work ethic and the saw's capabilities create impressive results. "I was out there yesterday, and the saw was just a-humming, and he was running around, getting material off the back side and making sure it was out of the way for the shuttle to shuttle again. He was processing 41-ft. material." he says.

In addition, Richards Sheet Metal Works uses the saw to bundle cut 1.25-in. round pipe with higher accuracy and in less time, says Roskelley.

But the V25 is capable of doing even more, and Richards Sheet Metal Works plans to take things to the next level by moving the saw to another area in the company's 70,000-sq.-ft. facility.

"We definitely have capacity--we're running 18 to 20 hours a day," Roskelley says. "There is talk of relocating it and unleashing a little bit more of its potential."

This is in line with the philosophy of Richards Sheet Metal Works: "You need the best people and the best machines," according to the company's website.

Solid foundation
Hyd-Mech has a long history of manufacturing metal-cutting band and cold saws. Stan Jasinski, an engineer from Poland, founded the company in 1978.

"Originally, Hyd-Mech was an engineering consulting firm specializing in hydraulic and forestry equipment," according to Hyd-Mech's website. "But frustrated with searching for a saw to suit his needs, Stan exercised his engineering expertise to build his own mitering saw, suddenly changing the company's focus in 1980."

The company went on to become the first producer of swivel-head, scissors band saws, and it has since developed a wide range of metal band saw and cold saw technology, as well as metal sawing solutions, says Rick Arcaro, director of sales at Hyd-Mech.

Accordingly, the V25 is just one of myriad saws the company manufactures. It is a general-purpose, tilt-frame vertical band saw designed for 60-degree mitering left and right. It is 30 in. high and 25 in. wide. The V25 is geared toward larger-fabrication end users that perform any type of structural steel mitering on both sides of their product, says Arcaro.

"This machine is really designed for automation and production, and it is meant to produce quickly and accurately for the end user," he says. "And this machine will cut anything. As long as it falls within the 25-in.-by-30-in. window, it can cut it."

The V25 comes with a 60-in. multi-indexing standard bar feed that can index up to 60 in. with one stroke, which helps increase productivity. A 120-in. bar feed is optional.

"Mounted on a massive steel base, the bar feed moves on precision linear bearings and is driven by rack-and-pinion-mounted gear-reducer/servo motor assembly," according to Hyd-Mech's website. "The feed table will lift the material up and away from the datum line, allowing the material to pass over the solid cutting base. After reaching the index length, the table will gently lower the material to the cutting surface, eliminating any banding or strapping interference."

Providing support
Hyd-Mech sells all its product through partnerships with its distributors. The company's reach stretches worldwide, and it has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

Along with its parent company, MEP Group, Udine, Italy, Hyd-Mech sells and services products through its global network of dealers, who are trained to provide end users with safety and productivity training.

Hyd-Mech dealer Action Machinery, Denver, and representative Tom Weaver worked closely with Richards Sheet Metal Works before, during and after installation, says Roskelley, noting it was great working with Weaver and his team.

Richards Sheet Metal Works also has benefited from Hyd-Mech's training both during the V25's installation and after it occurred.

"Their training has been good, and their tech that is in our area has been very supportive and good too for refreshing of information," says Roskelley. "So not only was our training very good, but their customer support has been good after training." FFJ


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  • Hyd-Mech Group Ltd.
    Woodstock, Ontario
    phone: 877/276-7297
    fax: 519/539-5126

  • Richards Sheet Metal Works Inc.
    Ogden, Utah
    phone: 801/436-1421
    fax: 801/392-9567


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