Chase for Flat Metal Parts Ends at O'Neal Manufacturing Services, Alabama

Company acquires largest ARKU parts leveler in North America.

Birmingham, Ala. – Specifications for flatness on steel plate parts are becoming tighter and more common with the heavy equipment OEM's in the U.S., and O'Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) is a leader in meeting those requirements. The company recently received its second ARKU FlatMaster leveler, a model 120-200, at its headquarters plant in Birmingham, Alabama. The machine is unique in the U.S. – it is the largest FlatMaster parts leveler in North America, allowing OMS to level parts up to 1.675" thick and 78" wide.

The FlatMaster 120 is not the only thing unique about OMS. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of complex metal fabrications for the heavy equipment industry. Its ten plants are each ISO 9001: 2008 certified, offering 1.5 million square feet of outsourcing support for OEMs in the agriculture, construction equipment, material handling, railroad and power generation industries. "Capital equipment purchases, including the ARKU flattening presses, are a business decision based upon our customer intimacy strategy," said Gerald Brockman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at OMS. "All our resources, whether capital, time or human, are focused on enhancing long-term relationships with our key customers."

The new leveler is a big step up from the FlatMaster 88 acquired for the company's Greensboro plant in 2013. "Our Birmingham facility was quoting some business that required a tight flatness tolerance on parts larger and thicker than our machine in Greensboro could handle," said Gene Gadient, an application engineer at OMS. "We have a gantry flattening press that could do the work, but the part volume and variety, as well as our experience with the smaller FlatMaster, make the larger roller leveler a better solution. The gantry press is a trial-and-error method that takes an experienced operator. It may take several hits from both sides of a part to get it flat. With our FlatMaster in Greensboro, we set the control and the part typically comes out flat on the first pass, very flat."

The contract for the Birmingham plant largely involves mild steel nearly 1" thick, with a minimum yield of 36 to 50 ksi. The parts are cut from plate by laser or plasma machine, and vary widely in size and shape, some with openings. A typical flatness requirement is 0.07" across a 60" diameter.

Circles, triangles and parts with openings are a particular challenge with a hammer press. "You can chase a high spot for quite a while," Gadient explained. "It's a very inexact science." The ability to adapt the leveling force to varying shapes is what sets the FlatMaster apart. Each part presents a changing cross section as the leading edge, center, and trailing edge enter the leveling rollers. These changing cross sections require varying levels of force to maintain the leveling gap. The FlatMaster's servo-hydraulic system can recognize any change in the required force in a fraction of a second and adjust to maintain a precise gap.

More than just leveling the part, the FlatMaster also stress relieves it, making it much easier to weld or bend. "We found in Greensboro there's a definite advantage to using flat parts in our downstream operations," said Gadient. "It is a unique manufacturing asset."

FlatMaster machines are available for part thicknesses up to 2.25".

About OMS

O'Neal Manufacturing Services produces fabrications and welded assemblies for OEMs with a "Planned Demand" outsourcing strategy, partnering with key suppliers to provide long-term, forecastable and repeatable production – allowing customers to truly focus on their core competencies. With decision making driven by long-term partnerships, rather than short-term need, OMS and its customers are changing the dynamics of the supply chain.

About ARKU

ARKU, founded in 1928, is a world leader in roller levelers and press feeding technology with the world's most extensive range of high-capacity and precision levelers, and with nearly 50 years' expertise in the field. With its headquarters in Baden-Baden, Germany, and ISO-certified facilities in Kunshan (China) and Cincinnati (USA), the business operates in almost 30 countries worldwide. The product range comprises precision levelers for parts, cut-to-length and slitting lines, press feeding lines and coil preparation lines for roll formers. ARKU provides engineering expertise to many manufacturing industries, including automotive, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, construction and furniture, as well as laser job shops and others.


Nicholas Miller

ARKU Coil Systems, Inc.

Technical Director

Tel:  513 985 0500

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