by Mary Scianna
The Problem: Meet demands for higher quality, faster delivery
The Solution: Purchase a 4 kW CO2 laser cutting machine
Alberta fabricator invests in laser cutting technology to meet customer demands for higher quality
When welder Don Adams formed Don Adams Welding in 1982, he could not have imagined how his son Jason, only four at the time, would transform the Red Deer, AB, business into a successful fabrication shop servicing Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
Earlier this year, the company, now known as Adams Steel Fabricators, completed an 8,000 sq ft expansion and installed its second laser cutting machine, a TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 4 kw CO2 model. The second laser machine was installed to meet growing customer demand for higher quality parts and faster delivery.
Entrepreneurism runs in the family. Jason not only purchased the business from his father (now retired) in 2007, he expanded the business operations. He is a co-owner of Standard West Steel, which focuses on structural steel manufacturing, and is also a shareholder of Care Industries, an Alberta manufacturer of drilling and workover rig packages for the oilfield industry.
While operating a welding shop kept Don and Jason busy, both wanted to diversify and expand the business with fabrication processes.
“When we were a welding shop, we were doing repair, construction, steel erections, and oilfield equipment work,’ recalls Jason Adams. “We were trying to be too many things to too many people.”
A couple of employees at Adams Welding involved in construction work were interested in starting their own business so Adams teamed up with them and together they created Standard West Steel. A short time later, one of Adams’ major customers in the oil sands industry approached Adams about working together, so he acquired ownership in the company, Care Industries.
“So all of that manufacturing left Adams Steel Fabricators, leaving us with materials processing and that’s our focus now. We began in 2004 with a waterjet and added metal fabricating equipment, including two more waterjets [all Flow machines] and a plasma cutting machine [Messer MG]. We also have a CNC machine shop because a lot of steel plates need taps threaded or holes drilled, but the shop is a value-added service only for our customers.”
In 2011, Adams decided it was time to move to laser cutting technology to start producing higher quality work.
“Being a welder myself by trade and being a customer of fabrication work in the past, I want the best quality parts and that’s why we made the shift to laser cutting. It has allowed us to bring the cost of parts down and it gives us very clean cut, accurate parts that don’t require secondary manual operations.”
He purchased a TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 5 kW CO2 laser cutting machine.
“No one in this region has a TRUMPF. I went to see one in action in Edmonton. I asked people in the industry about laser cutting machines and ironically one of TRUMPF’s competitors put TRUMPF among the top suppliers of high quality laser cutting machines.”
After researching the company, Adams contacted TRUMPF in Canada.
“I found out that the machines were German and I’m a huge advocate of German manufactured machinery. I like to buy machinery that’s top of the class. Another supplier said I wouldn’t get the service, but the best part is that I don’t need the service because it’s a superior machine and we have a solid preventative maintenance program. TRUMPF does come in but we have no issues with the machine because it’s a high quality built machine.”
With the growing demand for high quality parts, Adams Steel Fabricators purchased its second TruLaser 3030 CO2, a 4 kW machine, earlier this year.
“The lasers allow us to give the highest quality parts to our customers. Most customers look at price, delivery and quality in that order, but I look at price last and focus on quality and delivery. I may not be the lowest priced shop, but if I can supply faster delivery and the highest quality, it gives me an advantage. And the strategy is working because we have a lot of repeat and long-term customers.”
The purchase of the second laser coincided with the 8,000 sq ft completion of the fabrication shop.
“It was a race to get the building up and running before the new laser showed up. It was an easy install and TRUMPF helped install the new laser and also move the existing laser into the new building.”
The business that began in 1982 has come a long way.
“My dad lives in Victoria now and I’ll send him pictures of the shop and say ‘this is what’s left of Don Adam’s Welding’. I have to give him kudos for allowing me to do what I wanted. The reins were tight in the beginning but as I proved myself, he let me do more of what I wanted to expand the business.” SMT