Case Study: Metal Fabrication – Harsh Environment Labels

Classic Industries, an award winning architectural metal fabrication company, designs and manufactures decorative metal fascias and canopies. Its manufacturing facilities are equipped with the most advanced computerized fabrication equipment available. The company provides its clients with a complete line of modular decorative elements, ranging from interior architectural design to complete exterior “building systems.” Classic supplies metal fascias for a wide range of companies in the petroleum, retail and entertainment industries such as the canopy fascia system, which includes decorative elements and the illuminated logotype, for Shell Oil retail outlets nationwide.

Classic’s manufacturing facility in Forney, Texas receives metal (flat and tubular aluminum and steel) structural stock and then cuts and shapes the material. The company also uses aluminum composite materials for the decorative elements. Controlling the inventory for all of these materials presented a tremendous challenge for Classic. “The increase in business was the biggest factor. We had to have a way to keep up with what we were producing. We had no idea of what kind of inventory we had. We never knew what we had out in the shop,” commented Jeff Bishop, production engineer. Material was received but there was no way to accurately track what was on hand and project what would be needed for current and future jobs.

Classic turned to Electronic Imaging Materials, Inc., a labeling systems integrator. “We started with bar coding simple stuff — odds and ends, multiples of panels — then it grew until we were tracking everything,” continued Bishop.

Classic is able to track material from the time it enters the plant through the manufacturing process and even as it is assembled into “kits” that are sent out to Classic fabricators or local contractors. The materials are entered into the system and bar coded upon arrival with master bar codes that have tear-off bar coded tags. When material in a crate, for instance, is used, a barcode tag is removed and used to reduce the inventory by the quantity used. The manufactured material is then assigned to a particular job. If the material is cut into several pieces, each piece receives a bar code. Labels range from 1.5″ X 2″ to 6″ square.

When it’s time to create a packing list and put together the “kit” for a particular job, such as a Shell canopy, each part — from bags of nuts and bolts to decorative fascias — has a label that relates to the job as it is collected for the shipment. Said Bishop, “We are definitely more efficient pulling jobs. Before, we had no idea what we had and the quantities we had. We’d go to pull a job and we may or may not have enough material. Now we know that we have enough material to pull those jobs.”

At the building site, the labeled parts have human readable sections that correspond to the description in the assembly instructions. This allows the installation crew to check the materials against the parts list and follow the assembly instructions.

Another advantage is that by permanently labeling final parts Classic is able to track the lot number from manufacturer. If material is found to be defective, Classic can track it back to the lot number and find out how many other customers might be affected by the part. The company is also able to label patented parts to protect its ownership rights.

Electronic Imaging Materials