material handling

D+M Metal Products has been providing components for our material handling customers for many years. The demand for material handling systems has never been higher. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon and other retail suppliers had been developing convenient systems of ordering and delivery that were competing with in-person shopping. Since the pandemic, the demand for home delivery has increased dramatically. This trend is likely to continue even when social distancing is no longer necessary. 

Material Handling in West Michigan

 

Last March Amazon Logistics opened a fulfillment center in Gaines Township. This is a 850,000-square-foot facility intended to employ 1,000 people. By the end of the year, because of demand, Amazon had opened another delivery station in Grand Rapids and had plans for two more, in Walker and Caledonia. The economy radically shifted during that period to accommodate people’s needs and their inability to freely circulate. 

The products and groceries that people order online and that arrive at their front doors ship in planes, airplanes, and trucks and are stored and distributed via these centers. They are transported in these warehouses by automated guided vehicles or AGVs. Inside these facilities are conveyor systems that allow people to pack boxes quickly and efficiently. Those conveyor systems require fabricated components to operate. This is how D+M Metal plays its part in the fulfillment economy

Producing Components for Material Handling Systems

 

These systems are made of smaller metal components. We create these for our customers using turrets for punching, lasers for cutting, and press brakes for forming. We also weld these components together robotically or manually. 

Protecting both workers and product is vital for running a successful material handling business. Properly designed material handling systems eliminate unnecessary storage space and improve ergonomics. For the companies that use them, this means fewer accidents or injuries and less warehouse space to build or lease. Generic or badly designed handling solutions also result in damaged products. 

When a customer comes to us with a specific need, we assist them by coming up with creative solutions that will ensure their designs will be maximally effective for their purpose. We have worked with a wide range of customers across material handling industries. This experience allows us to find a cost effective solution for any number of challenges. 

If your company has a need for custom material handling components, we can fabricate them. D+M Metal Products has over 40 years of experience in metal fabrication. We continuously update our technology in order to add value to each step of the fabrication process. We know what it takes to assist equipment manufacturers in delivering an efficient material handling system.

Call us today at 616-784-0601 to discuss your conveyor equipment part requirements. 

price of steel

Several years ago, we sent out a letter to our customers about how the new U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum would affect the price of steel and our prices going forward. As you might imagine, 2020 created quite a lot of economic chaos for companies given the complications of COVID-19, the lockdowns, shortages of products and raw materials, and worldwide shipping issues. Since that time, the price of steel has fluctuated, but it’s risen again and availability may be affected as well. D&M Metal Products sets the prices for the products we produce based on costs of labor and raw materials. Unfortunately, when those prices increase, our current pricing must as well. 

The Price of Steel Is Increasing 

 

The price of all types of steel increased from November to December of 2020 with the month-over-month price for hot-rolled steel up $6.65 cwt, cold-rolled steel up $6.05 cwt, galvanized steel up $6.50 cwt and plate steel up $4.00 cwt. It increased again from mid-December to the end of December. The largest increase in steel prices, however, was the change from August of 2020 when steel prices were at their lowest. Hot-rolled steel increased $20.40 cwt from August to December, with cold-rolled steel up $18.90 cwt, galvanized steel up $20.10 cwt, and plate steel up $9.25 cwt.  

Even at those increased prices, steel is becoming harder to acquire. In April of 2020, there was a lead time of 3-4 weeks for hot-rolled steel. By December, that lead time was 9-11 weeks. This is the longest lead time for almost a decade. 

There are a number of reasons for this. The steel industry was also affected by COVID-19. Mills are typically running 2-6 weeks late due to labor shortages, labor strikes, and cyber attacks. Their inventories of steel are currently very low, and increased demand for steel has resulted in the highest prices for hot-rolled steel since August of 2008. 

The market for steel looks to continue to be tight through at least the first quarter of 2021. Mills are trying to meet increased demand coming from different industries and playing catch up due to downtime or other problems earlier in the year. Steel imports are at lowest levels in 10 years.

Aluminum Availability

 

The availability of aluminum is also a problem. The U.S. Department of Commerce placed new tariffs on aluminum in October, so that had an effect. Currently, the lead times for aluminum are 8-12 weeks for common alloy. Base prices have increased two times since the beginning of September. There are constraints across the industry. Getting wide-stock aluminum is a challenge, and the availability of .160 and thicker aluminum is limited. 

Lumber Prices

 

The lumber market also had a roller coaster of a year in 2020 with prices reaching historic highs in the summer and then dropping lower in the fall. However, the price of lumber has begun to increase again in the past month. The instability in the market was caused by numerous things, including COVID-19, tariffs with Canada, wildfires, and hurricanes. 

As you might expect, it’s a challenge for anyone to accurately predict what might happen with prices on raw materials in 2021, given complications with the pandemic, trade, the economy, and politics in the short term. We want to be as transparent with our customers as we can. For open purchase orders for which we’ve already purchased material, D&M Metal will honor the pricing that is in place. We will need to review pricing as new orders or releases come in. We may need to make adjustments based on our inventories for your specific products. We will do our best to be as fair as possible when we price out costs based on changing prices for materials.

We do appreciate your business and will work to be as competitive and responsive as we can.  If you have any immediate questions, please call Bob Buist, D&M Metal Products’ president. He will be happy to talk to you about your concerns. 

medical equipment

Earlier this year we reported on ways that D+M Metal was involved with providing solutions for the COVID-19 epidemic. Medical gear and equipment has been in high demand for obvious reasons, and many manufacturers have stepped up to provide it to our medical community. However, it’s true that even during more normal times, there’s also a consistent demand for medical products and components. We are happy to work with medical equipment manufacturers to provide the parts they need made with precision to specification.

Industry Standards for Medical Equipment

 

We are proud of all of the parts that we make. Our quality control program is rigorous and is ISO 9001:2015 certified. It is true, however, that many types of medical equipment must be manufactured with extreme precision because if it fails, someone’s life or health could be at risk. A poorly made component can cause equipment to malfunction, which is why selecting an experienced metal fabricator is so important. 

Whether your component designs are complex or simple, D+M Metal Products can produce them to your specifications and meet or exceed industry standards. Over the decades we’ve been in business, we have invested in both the equipment and the skilled workforce to create metal fabrications with the tight tolerances and precise dimensions medical equipment requires.  We can duplicate the same part quality from the first to last part we fabricate. Our staff can assist you with all the steps in the process, from design to production. 

New advances in medical technology mean that manufacturers need to have equipment that can be adapted to produce new designs. We have acquired a large variety of machinery and tools over the years to keep up with the changing needs of manufacturing. Having the right equipment is crucial to being able to not only produce the necessary components, but to produce them efficiently with short turnaround times for our customers. 

Some of the medical equipment we have produced include cabinetry and fabrications that are powder coated as well as a variety of stainless steel products and components that make up air purification devices. 

Do you need medical components produced quickly, affordably, and to specification? D+M Metal can help. From the simple to the complex, we are able to work with your engineers and designers to come up with solutions that sell. Call us today for all of your medical equipment component needs. 

OEM parts

If your company needs original equipment manufacturer parts, commonly referred to as OEM parts, D+M Metal Products wants to be your metal fabrication supplier. We are committed to creating the highest quality products for your company and can be your one-stop shop for all metal fabrication services. 

OEM Metal Fabrication Capabilities

 

D+M works with a wide variety of original equipment manufacturers as a full-service metal fabricator with these capabilities:

  • Blanking
  • Machining
  • Welding
  • Laser cutting
  • Brake press forming
  • Bending
  • Assembly and finishing

Our quality control program and ISO 9001: 2015 certification ensure that our processes and products meet or exceed the highest industry standards and translate into producing superior quality products. 

OEM Parts Challenges

 

We work closely with OEMs in a variety of industries and understand that each company has specific OEM parts needs. We strive to create a relationship with each of our customers, supplying each of them with the parts they need to create their products in an efficient and cost effective way. 

Often OEMs must deal with hard-to-predict demand for parts. It’s not always easy to accurately forecast the success of individual products beforehand. Unfortunately, mistakes in forecasting demand can cause expensive problems, including production line stoppage. The right metal fabrication supplier can help you keep your production line moving even when there are glitches and estimation errors. 

Working with a seasoned and experienced metal fabricator can help your company avoid other kinds of problems too. Our engineers can offer feedback on design to eliminate elements that could be better or would not work properly as they are designed. We’ll work with your product design and then stay with the project until it’s complete, increasing efficiency, if possible, for greater cost savings. We have the tools and the training to make sure that the production process goes smoothly, and we will meet the deadlines you have for your project. We will get your job done on time!

At D+M Metal Products, we have worked with companies that provide construction equipment, testing equipment, alternative energy, entertainment, air filtration, and in-vehicle storage to develop products that fit their needs. No matter what your industry or the complexity of the project, if it involves metal fabrication, it’s our goal to be your metal fabrication supplier of OEM parts. Contact us today to find out how we can help. Let’s work on your next project together. 

 

point-of-purchase display

In a previous blog we discussed how some of the products D+M Metal Products makes enable the fulfillment economy to function. Fabricated parts truly make the world go round. They can also be found in brick-and-mortar stores near you, often in the displays most likely to catch your eye, the point-of-purchase display and the point-of-sale display. If you don’t know what these are or how fabricated parts factor in, read on. 

When you go to a store, whether it’s a drugstore, a grocery store, or a big box store like Sam’s Club, you are guaranteed to see displays in all different shapes and sizes that are designed to help that retailer sell featured products. Those products are often seasonal, ranging from Easter candy to 4th-of-July sparklers to canning supplies. The placement of those displays, along with their advertising, are designed to catch the customer’s attention and encourage a purchase. 

When the displays are next to a check-out counter or station, as is often the case with candy and magazines in the grocery store, these are called point-of-sale - or POS - displays. The goal of a point-of-sale display is to increase customers’ impulse purchases. If you’ve ever grabbed a pack of gum or a BIC lighter while in line to check out, you know how effectively they work.

Point-of-Purchase Displays

 

Point-of-purchase - or POP - displays serve a similar function, but they are located around the store in a variety of places. They are placed where customers make purchasing decisions to encourage them to buy featured products. Because there are so many items competing for customers’ attention, point-of-purchase displays’ marketing will be designed to stand out. In large stores they will often appear in wide aisles known as “action alleys” where there is plenty of foot traffic. Approximately 30 percent of consumers will make a purchase they did not intend to buy before they came into the store. POP displays seek to influence and guide those decisions. 

Temporary POP displays are often made of cardboard, but more permanent displays will be made using metal parts. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are very versatile. They can be set up to display one product and then broken down and reassembled at a different time to promote another. Customers are familiar with these types of POP displays:

  • Freestanding displays
  • Dump bins
  • Endcap displays

Point-of-purchase displays are much more customizable than store shelves. At D+M Metal we work with retailers, assisting them with design for display manufacturability and material utilization and providing the metal parts that make them up. We can help your fixture designers reduce their costs and offer suggestions that will enhance the overall look, performance, and versatility of these products. 

When it comes to point-of-purchase displays, don’t settle for standard when you can get exactly the enhancements in fixtures your products require. If you don’t know exactly what you need to maximize the effectiveness of your display, our experienced engineers can work with you to figure it out. Call us today to talk about how we can help create the product displays your business needs to be competitive.