Every Good Builder Uses a Metals Expert

Our resident architectural metal specialist has seen it time and again: Beautiful, customized and expensive metal fabrications get to a construction site and won’t fit the intended space and footprint. Or, a large ornamental metal fabrication is created and when installed, fails to meet an overlooked building code. Throwing away countless hours of skilled work and quality metal is heartbreaking. It causes resentments, finger pointing and lost profit for architects, builders and metal fabricators.

The causes of construction failure in architectural metal fabrications are generally twofold: There is no expert single point of contact to provide highly detailed, accurate and instructional shop drawings, and be on call for questions. Communication between architect, fabricator, general contractor and subcontractors breaks down and false assumptions are made. One mistake along the way can junk an expensive one-of-a-kind structural assembly like a set of feature stairs or a stainless steel and glass canopy.

Architectural metal fabrication is a complex specialty. It is a domain reserved for disciplined professionals from the engineering team all the way to the installers. Far too often, a general contractor will hire a fabricator with only limited experience to handle the custom metal work using insufficient drawing details. The fabricator might take internally decided shortcuts in welding, layering, machining, etc without fully understanding the structural integrity and code requirements. Sometimes a little sloppiness kicks final measurements out beyond tolerance limits. A desire for expediency will usually cause mistakes that ripple downstream. The result? Installation failure and rework!

Don’t stagger and fall on the hard stuff.

There is a right way to implement complex architectural metal in construction. The methodology is relatively simple for a complicated business. A single metals consultant needs to be the expert point of contact for all of the players involved in the architectural fabrications. The consultant is the sole resource that provides all of the detailing & shop drawings as well as special instructions to fabricators, builders and installers. All contractors and subcontractors involved in the metal work are encouraged to contact the consultant no matter how large or small a question may be. The metal consultant’s job is to assure that all teams have the right information for proper fabricating, installation, fit and finish.

GMFCo has been quietly increasing its business in construction, specifically the architectural metal fabrications specialty. To date, our architectural projects have moved through the shop smoothly and were installed flawlessly on site. This is largely because we’ve partnered with and brought in house one of the best architectural metal detailers in the country.

As the architectural arm of GMFCo, Modern Metal Solutions (MMS) has set up its offices at the GMFCo facilities in Hudson, NH. MMS principal, Chris Aubrey, is nationally known among some highly discriminating architects and builders. He has consulted on some of the most unique, high-end residential as well as artistic commercial building projects in the country. We’re delighted to partner with Chris and MMS to help our customers in the construction industries get the best value in the projects we fabricate for them.

We invite you to send us your architectural metal designs and drawings at any stage in the process. We can advise you of the feasibility and costs associated with taking your project to the next stage in manufacturing and construction. Please feel free to call or email us if you have any questions: (603) 889-2600 | [email protected]

Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company was established in Hudson, New Hampshire in 1975. Since then, GMFCO has been focused on providing industry leading metal fabrications and welding services for customers across the country.

Investing in Education is Paying it Forward

Our country needs well trained technicians. Let’s take a good look at the cost of technical education as an investment. A traditional college education is fine for many, but it is not meant for everyone. The return on investment of a typical 4-year degree program is becoming more questionable as common tuition costs have reached $50,000 + per year at many universities. In a soft professional job market, a young person is wise to look at all the career preparation options and there are plenty of them.

Vocational training and work experience are the best education options for many, particularly those who choose the skilled trades for their careers. Welding, machining and other metal fabrication skills certainly require education, mentoring and practice. All of that costs money, but the investment companies make in educating their employees can pay off in spades. For those employees, careers in these fields prove to be very rewarding and the acquired technical skills offer them mobility and stronger earning power.

Sending employees to school is an expensive investment. So is damage control from rework or crisis management, missing delivery deadlines and trying to salvage customer relationships. If you have a properly trained workforce, it’s much easier to get the job done right the first time and deliver on time. Isn’t it odd that there’s always enough time to redo a job correctly – the second time? The problem there is wasted time, materials and of course money.

Colleges that offer manufacturing technology application training such as blue print reading, tools of metrology, welding technology, metal fabricating, CNC machining and other skills to specifically serve the metal fabrication industry are few and far between. Here in New England, we are sorely lacking in such education options and that’s a shame.

There are engineering technology degree and certificate programs at community & tech colleges that focus on math, CAD and other high level engineering skills but few if any that teach machining, welding and hands-on metal fabrication skills. Search the academic catalogs of major universities and liberal arts colleges and you’ll find almost nothing to serve the educational needs of young or aspiring technical workers.

To get a quality hands-on education in metal fabrication and related skills, a student can find it in the Midwest at such schools as Hobart Institute, Hennepin Technical, Jefferson College and Moraine Park Technical. Very few people in New England have even heard of these colleges.

Skilled recruits coming in to the metal fabricating business are hard to find and companies like ours must do what we can to recruit at a distance or train them ourselves. It takes time to reach the level of journeyman or master technician. Workplace mentoring, apprenticeships and on-the-job training are necessities in a region where the education system isn’t producing enough skilled people.

The point here is that the higher education system can better serve the economic and business needs of the country in partnership with the manufacturing industries it professes to serve. With a skilled and well trained technical workforce in place, everyone in the community benefits.

Gilchrist Metal Fabricating has sponsored college credit courses such as blue print reading and tools of metrology. Additionally, soft skill training in team building, leadership, implementing change and giving/receiving constructive feedback help companies like ours serve our customers, grow and offer more job opportunities. We are currently sponsoring a series of college courses related to manufacturing and training for quality management programs such as ISO 9100, AISC Small Bridge and AS 9100.

Let us know what you think about the current state of education in the metal fabricating industry. Please feel free to call or email us: (603) 889-2600 | [email protected]

GMFCo Adds Large Capacity Double Column 5-face Machining Center

Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company is literally growing through the roof as we vertically expand our 70,000 square foot facility to accommodate the height of a newly acquired AWEA Double Column 5-face Machining Center. Locating this new bridge mill for optimal work flow requires a building modification – raising the roof – to accommodate the machine’s height of approximately 25 feet.

GMFCO 5-face machining center

Key to our business strategy is remaining among the most capable fabricators in the Northeast. In keeping with our commitment to solving the largest fabrication challenges in New England, we made the decision to invest in larger, high speed machining capability. This capital investment allows us to pursue larger scale projects in such industries as defense, marine & ship building, architectural metal, general construction, bridge construction, power generation and other large industrial applications.

This equipment acquisition changes the metal fabricating game here in New England. GMFCo will soon provide advanced, high-speed large size machining services beyond what has been readily available in the market. We’ll have in house capability to machine parts as large as 275’’ long by 157’’ wide by 96’’ high, weighing up to 44,000 lbs.

What does extra size and speed mean for you?

With its large capacity tool changer for milling and drilling tooling as well as multiple 90 degree angle heads and state of the art material handling system, GMFCo customers will now have a single point source for large machined fabrications. Very large and complex shapes will be produced more efficiently within tighter production schedules. Higher capacity and favorable logistics for New England contractors and manufacturers will give them a more competitive edge in the months and years to come.

When it comes to offering our new 5-Face Machining size and speed capabilities to our customers, you could say that our excitement is “through the roof!”

Jack Gilchrist talks enthusiastically about what’s just around the corner for his company and customers. “Having more control to meet the turnaround requirements of large scale and high volume machined parts offers our customers a better one-stop service proposition.” Construction and equipment installation plans are underway with new machining production capacity expected by early May.

If you have questions about our new production capacity feel free to contact us at 603-889-2600 | [email protected]