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Lou's Lessons

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Columbia Helps Southern California Grow “Up”

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator Key ProductsWho would have ever thought that high-rise buildings of 1,000+ feet in height would proliferate in southern California! Once unimaginable, today, these structures – the largest of them known as “super-talls” – are dotting the West Coast landscape in increasing numbers and forming a more East Coast/Midwest-style urban skyline.

For most of the 20th century, seismic, financial, and other practical issues limited high-rise development in California. Most residents of Los Angeles, for instance, lived in houses or apartment buildings that were, at most, three stories tall. Considering concern about earthquakes, it was easier, if not prudent, to grow the city with “short” buildings that were safer. Developers could spread their risk across many smaller structures instead of fewer large ones. Smaller buildings did not involve the huge capital investment that is required by tall construction – not to mention the associated costs in money and time for engineers, drawings, approvals, and construction. Also, the population in the last century was insufficient in number and wealth to make tall buildings profitable.

Today, California is a changed place. The region is undergoing continuous, explosive growth with an accompanying need for the commercial and residential infrastructure to support it. Many of the factors that have driven high-rise construction in New York, Chicago, and other eastern and central United States business centers are now in play within minutes of the Pacific Ocean. The region is becoming increasingly more upscale. Land costs are high and climbing, making it advantageous to “go big” and to construct the tallest possible buildings on the smallest possible footprints.

We have been fortunate to work on several prestigious projects on the West Coast. Our customers have come to us to find solutions to various issues in this new urban skyline. Check back to learn more about our support in California’s newest structures.

 

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Production Part Approval Process

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, January 8, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Happy New Year, and welcome to the fifth year of the Columbia Elevator Products Blog Lou’s Lessons!

Last time, I talked about how we use a Quality Management System. Staying on the topic of Quality, I want to share a system that we use when we work with customers in our niche of the elevator industry. Because we supply products that are unique to an architect’s or an OEM’s specification, we must be certain that our quality is always right on the mark.

When Columbia Elevator is entering a long-term contract to become a regular supplier to an OEM or elevator installation company, we must demonstrate that we can build and supply the product according to specifications. Before the contract can be finalized and accepted, we prove that we can build and supply the desired design accurately in our facilities. Demonstrating production mastery makes us a desirable supplier.

To do this, we engage in a Production Part Approval Process or PPAP.

PPAP is a standardized process that helps manufacturers and suppliers communicate and approve production designs and processes by promoting a clear understanding of the requirements of both the customer and the supplier, Columbia Elevator. It also ensures that the established techniques/procedures are used consistently in the manufacture of parts/products at agreed-upon production rates.

To put it simply, PPAP is a work plan that is a result of a negotiation between our customer and us. It is the result of much dialogue and discussion regarding the customer’s and Columbia Elevator’s individual plans/specifications for how the product is to be built and how we can make a PPAP that satisfies both parties. Once each element of the PAPP is agreed upon, Columbia can become a regular supplier of an entrance, door, cab, or other product.

Engaging in PPAP processes with regular customers results in these benefits:

  • Ensures better communication with the customer
  • Reduces revisions and change orders
  • Reduces waste and defect
  • Increases sales & improves revenue stream
  • Sustains our reputation for high quality products
  • Maintains our place as one of the top independent elevator suppliers in the U.S.A.

Columbia Elevator

 

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Quality: Metal Inspection Across Production Processes

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Huberney Rendon,  Bridgeport  Shop  Supervisor

Huberney Rendon, Bridgeport Shop Supervisor, inspects punched steel.

In my last blog post of the year, I wanted to take all this talk of Quality and manufacturing defect-free products down to a practical level with a concrete – or in this case steel – example. In the manufacture of our products, we use a lot of steel and other metals. When we are working with metals, metal inspection throughout the production process is key to manufacturing high quality products.

Before Production

As Columbia Elevator prides itself on building products without defects, we must be certain to use the best products for the job. A wide variety of defects, such as pinholes, inclusions, blowholes, scales, scratches, pimples, and roll mark, can be found in metal before we even start our work.

Quality Step #1: Metal Surface Inspection

  • Inspect sheet metal, laminate, or other materials you handle for surface defects before you begin to work with it.
  • If you encounter surface defects that look like they will be problematic in our production of a quality product, report the defects to your Lead Man or Foreman.
  • The Foreman will work with the Purchasing Agent to be certain that the quality of steel we receive from a vendor is of the quality we expect.

Metal Inspection During Production

As we work with metals, defects can occur in two other categories: Welds & Edges

  • A pre-weld inspection allows the welder an opportunity to prevent welding problems before they start instead of ‘fixing’ the problem while working by grinding out defects and reducing the mass of the steel or using excessive heat, both of which can reduce the quality of the product.
  • A post-weld visual inspection can help us determine defects in welding and edges before the metal goes to the paint shop.
  • Another post-weld check for defects such as welded joints, cuts, punctures, and scoring can be done by running a gloved hand over the potentially distressed areas; a glove will catch on any protrusions, showing that the weld is incomplete.

Quality Step #2: Weld Inspection

  • Conduct a post-weld inspection to verify the integrity of a completed weld.
  • Grinded defects should be inspected using a visual and glove test to ensure that sharp edges were not created in the process.

Metal Inspection During Transport through the Plant

Generally, a fabricated metal item moves through the production area until it is completed and then stored or shipped. As metal pieces move through the shop, damage to edges and surfaces can occur during handling. We take precautionary measures to maintain the surfaces and edges as we handle the materials, such as using appropriate techniques in the use of clamps, lifting devices, and movement of materials from one surface to the next. Additionally, it is important to wear all assigned Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when moving fabricated metal items – especially clean gloves on newly painted surfaces!

Cleanliness is important throughout the fabrication process. Moreover, metal surface cleanliness is especially important in the painting process, which is why we always clean or wipe down metal before painting it to remove dust or metal debris that may have accumulated during cutting, welding, and handling.

After metal items have been painted and moved back to the shop floor, handling and crating are important to our being able to ship quality products. Painted parts can be handled only after the paint has cured to an acceptable level, and storage and handling of metal that is painted must be done carefully per our company procedures in order not to damage the painted finish and/or the metal itself.  

Quality Step #3: Production Department Inspection

Key to Columbia Elevator’s Quality Control standards, each production department is expected to inspect the quality of materials as they move through the factory. This ensures that we always deliver quality products to our customers.  

  • Happy Holidays to you and your family!
  • Columbia Elevator will be shut down from December 23 through January 2 so our team can enjoy holiday time with their families and friends.
  • I will be back with more Lessons in 2018!

Happy Holidays to You!

 Happy Holidays to You!

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