Morphing into manufacturing
- March 11, 2012
Rowland Emergency Vehicle Products Inc., Mississauga, ON, began as a repair and maintenance business, but its reputation for developing, designing and manufacturing products that address the needs of its customers has steadily grown.
The new abrasive waterjet cutting machine is the start of what essentially is a morphing of the business from repair and maintenance to OEM fabrication work for the emergency vehicle services (EMS) industry.
“My business plan is to supply customers with everything in the ambulance,” says ower Scott Rowland.
The company is well on its way to fulfilling his vision. In addition to repair and maintenance work, the company is a distributor of a wide range of medical devices and fabricates some of the metal components used to outfit the emergency services vehicles and ambulances.
During Shop Metalworking Technology’s visit to the shop, one of several vehicles being worked on was an ambulance for York Region. The ambulance is equipped with several compartments to house emergency supplies but the paramedics wanted a new storage shelf to sit atop a metal storage box to let them access supplies more quickly.
“York Region found out about our waterjet and they asked us if we could build them aluminum trays on which they could place medical supplies such as needles and bandages. We’ve designed the aluminum tray and York Region is approving them now.”
In another example of how Rowland is winning business - and why Rowland expects an ROI on his waterjet of one and a half years - is a radio head plate he designed for ambulances.
“The manufacturer designed the dash with the radio head, but it was too far away for the paramedics and when they needed to use it they’d have take their eyes off the road to change it. They wanted to move it closer so we made a plate that goes from the dashboard towards the paramedics. I made it by hand - drilled it, inserted the nuts and it worked great. The paramedics liked it and we got a call for 50 of them. Then other municipalities heard about it and we got more calls. It’s just a piece of metal that needs to be cut, drilled and sanded, but it was time consuming.
“Now with the Flow waterjet and the software for part programming, I can pull the file and cut 80 of these plates in a couple of minutes.“
Rowland is now also building special response units that have aluminum bodies. The shop built two of them last year, has two more on order and expects more orders in the near future.
“We’ll outsource the fabrication of the aluminum bodies and finish the inside ourselves, but gradually we’ll begin to build our own bodies.”
To accommodate the growing fabrication work it expects to do in-house, Rowland says he’s also looking at upgrading other fabrication equipment.
“We’re thinking about a new hydraulic press brake and a better bender. We’re doing a lot of fancy work with the waterjet and the press brake seems to be holding us back a bit. After that we’d like to purchase some CNC machines for machining. We outsource some product now that’s machined - a collaspsible defibrillator pole that holds the defibrillators on the stretchers. It would be nice to bring that in house; we’re doing all the drawings for it anyway so it would be a matter of purchasing equipment to do the work.”