Although steel prices have fallen, other material (and labour) costs involved in the manufacture of insulated panels have increased. Panel prices on a worldwide basis have, however, remained ‘flat’. There has been a ‘squeeze’ on panel profitability as a result.
Profit can be maintained by increasing sales and output but often only by reducing selling prices especially in a flat market. Other options are available to panel makers.
Reducing waste and maintaining panel quality are the most effective way of improving profitability per square metre of panel produced.
Isowall offers waste reduction equipment with high Return on Investment and short payback periods.
The flat market in panel prices and the increasing cost of labour, overheads, marketing and many raw materials, has not been offset by the long term decline in the price of steel facings used in the panel industry.
To increase profitability under such circumstances and with a flat selling price projected for some time, the options to panel makers for improving profitability are limited. Increasing sales is possibly the most common approach by many companies but this often results either in an intended or often unintended (and unexpected) reduction in the panel price to secure larger panel volumes and orders of significant size. There is, of course, a balance between increased volume and price but it is generally accepted that by cutting prices in a flat market, the result is a reduction in overall profitability per unit or per square metre of panel produced.
Reducing waste and maintaining panel quality are the most effective ways of improving profitability per square metre and ensuring one’s market position and panel quality at the same time.
Isowall has a variety of control programmes suitable for use on a wide range of panel machinery.
Machinery options exist for panel producers wishing to improve material usage within a set production parameter. These are:-
1. Real time production output programme
2. Improved control systems.
3. Improved adhesive systems.
4. Uprated cut off systems.
5. Improved start up process.
(1) Real time production output programme:
A production reporting system to either a central computer system or to a hand-held tablet device providing real time production figures, waste production and invoice production suitable for management control to either a specific plant or a number of plants located around the world.
(2) Control systems:
Isowall Panel Machinery has developed a control system for continuous panel machines which maximises the output of the line whilst ensuring the least waste at the beginning and the end of the production run. The end and the beginning of any run is the area in which greatest waste can be produced and the less material that needs to be either maintained within the machine at the end of a run or fed into the machinery at the beginning of a run reduces waste considerably, often by up to 3% or 4% depending on the panel length run.
(3) Adhesive systems:
In an effort to ensure that panels are bonded adequately (especially mineral wool or, in many cases, expanded polystyrene) manufacturers of panels often over-supply adhesive to the panel facings to ensure a satisfactory bond. The over-supply of adhesive can have several negative effects not only limiting the structural strength of the panel by creating an additional layer of material within the panel system but also increasing the flammability of the panel should an adhesive be used that is not suitable for such applications. The greatest weakness of over-supply of adhesive is the cost of adding adhesive which has no effect on the structural strength or fire rating of the panel. Isowall has estimated that adhesive waste (over-supply) can amount to 2% of panel production cost on a moderate run. A saving of this amount over the whole production year becomes a significant sum in terms of total cost. Isowall Panel Machinery has a control system that measures continuously the application of the adhesive in a wide range of panel applications. By controlling the volume of adhesive on a continuous basis and monitoring the volume used on a ‘live’ production run, manufacturers are able to better control and regulate the volume of adhesive used in panels.
(4) Cut off:
A panel line’s capacity to schedule and cut panels to length and also end profile panels to suit the construction can result in wasted material. Isowall Panel Machinery has a programme that can be applied to the scheduling of panel production to not only better schedule production to meet client needs but also reduce waste in terms of panels produced either at the beginning or end of the production run that are deemed to be either inadequate length or quality. A continuous update of the production output position assists production managers to better estimate the use of labour within the factory.
(5) Edge printing:
To be able to designate the date, time and production conditions under which a panel was manufactured and to provide the client with details of the panel length, type and position within a building construction has become a ‘norm’ within the panel industry. Edge printing of such details which can include a wide variety of additional information as may be required by the client is available from Isowall Panel Machinery who have a variety of programmes to suit the individual panel maker.
Isowall has available a CD-based computer efficiency ‘programme’ allowing panel makers to enter variables into a standard matrix programme, thus providing immediate analysis after each production run as to the total volume of material inputted and the total volume of panel produced, thus enabling manufacturers to calculate on a production run by production run the waste generated on each run. As an adjunct to this programme, the computer system will facilitate the labour input through a day’s production based on the machine output for that period.
To learn more about panel waste reduction equipment available from Isowall, please contact:-