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Fully Equipped: Owning a rollformer can be a smart investment

Contractors in today's tough economic environment need all the advantages offered by state-of-the-art equipment. This is as true in the metal roofing business as in other areas of metal construction. One aspect of the business that is ripe for consideration by any metal roofing contractor is the evaluation of portable rollforming for job-site panel fabrication. Portable rollforming can overcome many challenges that face any metal roofing contractor in the ultracompetitive world the contractor is now operating. Purchasing rollforming equipment is an efficient and effective means of streamlining business and production operations and increasing profitability.

Whether a contractor is seeking to enter the metal roofing market, increase its share of the market, or identify and integrate the latest metal roofing technology, owning a rollformer will enable a company to cut costs, gain project and production control, and meet customer demands.

Lead-times, while less of an issue no than they were not long ago, can still present obstacles to the pressured contractor. Opportunities arise from the ability to accept jobs and perform on a quick term basis. Owners want prompt decisions from potential contractors and the ability to job-site rollform enhances the contractor's flexibility and option to perform. Reliance on factory-formed panels curtails some of the options available to the contractor who has access to portable rollforming equipment. The ability to fabricate panels on-site from coil stock enables a contractor to reduce the lead time involved with ordering factory formed panels.

An inherent advantage of the use of portable rollformers is the ability to reduce costs. Cost reduction is obtained by controlling production quality and eliminating waste product. Shipping costs are also reduced by eliminating packaging associated with factory fabricated panels and relying on coils, instead of formed panels, shipped to the job site

Manufacturers take precautions to ensure factory-produced panels are delivered in excellent condition and to reduce the risk of intransit damage. While packaging and crating panels should be performed with care, the nature of the procedure slows the production process.


No matter how careful the manufacturer may be, eliminating the need for crating and transporting panels is an advantage of owning a rollformer. If panels are damaged or the wrong size, the ordering process starts over whereas field-formed panels are cut to size on the job site.

Also, truckload restrictions limit panel lengths to 50 to 57 feet (15 to 17 m), so contractors utilizing factory-produced panels have additional constraints. Many architectural products are designed for seamless, continuous-length installation. Rollformer-owning contractors can tackle jobs calling for 80- to 100-foot (24- to 30-m) long panels by transporting coil and other materials to the job site. Because roofing components are created on-site, there is no need to resolve the cost of length-restricted panels.

There are countless brands and models of rollforming equipment on the market today. When choosing a rollformer, it is important to assess each piece of equipment based upon a contractor's particular needs or demands. Each rollformer has relative advantages and disadvantages based on a company's needs and target market needs.

However, there are some general criteria contractors can utilize when shopping around for rollforming equipment. First, a contractor should invest in quality capital equipment in order to increase productivity and to receive a return on that capital investment. How can a contractor know if they are purchasing a quality, high-end rollformer? Be a responsible consumer and do the research. Utilize all the resources available. Gather information on companies and equipment not only using the Internet but by asking around. Word of mouth and referrals are great ways to narrow down your list of manufacturers.

Once the background information is collected, contact the distributor or manufacturer and ask questions about servicing or financing and discuss any concerns you may have. Often times, a rollforming equipment manufacturer offers training seminars informing contractors how to operate the equipment or utilize the rollformer to its fullest capacity. Rollformer manufacturers are an excellent resource in deciding the type of rollformer appropriate for a contractor. Contractors will continue to develop a relationship with the manufacturer once their business has purchased a rollformer.

Although the current economic climate affects businesses every day, investing in quality rollforming equipment increases contractors' chances of success in the quest for lucrative metal roofing projects.

Rob Hinojosa is the marketing manager for Berridge Manufacturing Co., San Antonio