Bringing German Precision and Expertise to the US Large Diameter Cut-Off Wheel Market

While perhaps a bit of a niche market, the demand for large cut-off wheels is increasing due to the strengthening of the US steel industry.  Applications such as cutting of solid metal in rolling mills, rail manufacture, foundries, and other large-scale cutting operations,  call for a highly specialized product that is custom engineered for each specific process and material.  Leveraging our engineering expertise in abrasives and industry experience in various global segments, PFERD has brought this capability to the US market .

Large Diameter CutOff Wheel
PFERD Large Diameter Cut-Off Wheel

We’ve recently expanded our North American offering in large diameter cut-off wheels to a product range that has been popular overseas.   While we do offer a range of wheels for stationary cutting applications in our standard US offering, large diameter wheels require specific know-how and made-to-order competencies. PFERD’s prowess in this area was recently highlighted at the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany where we featured manufacturing capabilities of cut-off wheels up to 2,000mm (about 6½ feet).   “In the large market, there are only 4 companies in the world that can make the 2-meter diameter cut-off wheel,” said National Account Manager Tim Lee. “We’re one of a very elite group in that respect.”

Tim has been tasked with the job of building awareness for this capability across North America.  The need for an industry expert that can talk

PFERD Large Diameter Cut-Off Wheel Account Manager
PFERD National Account Manager Tim Lee

the talk with the end user, identify the requirements of the specific application, and communicate that to the engineering team, is crucial.  With 28 years in the abrasives industry, Tim is an experienced leader in this field and can solve problems that customers themselves may not be unaware of.  His expertise in this sector is extremely valuable when identifying and delivering solutions for these complex applications.

PFERD’s combination of engineering expertise, manufacturing capabilities, and industry knowledge in the unique and often challenging application of large diameter cut-off wheels enables us to deliver the solutions needed in the steel industry.   To learn more call us today or email our industry expert directly at ldco@pferdusa.com

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Pipeline Industry Insights from a Career Spanning Five Decades

Recently, thousands of pipeline industry professionals converged in Tulsa  for the Steward School 2018 kick-off event. In addition to recreational activities such as the Annual Charity Golf Tournament and Lincoln Electric BBQ at the Steward School, participants come together to gain new skills through training sessions. This also a great opportunity for industry sponsors to meet with members and discuss product solutions.

Michael Roche in the Field

Among the participants at this year’s Steward School event was PFERD’s Pipeline Market Manager Michael Roche, an honorary member of the Pipeliners Union Local 798 since 1990. Through Michael’s ongoing relationship with the Union, PFERD has served as a sponsor for 15 years. We provide abrasives designed for the pipeline industry and get a first-hand look at how industry professionals are using our products in their projects.

“The market is so busy right now,” Michael said. “There’s going to be an explosion of jobs within the next month…Business is picking up in this sector, and the trend looks to continue for the next 5 years, maybe 10,” he said.

With a pipeline career spanning more than 50 years, Michael is a great candidate to provide such insights. Getting his start in 1964 as an apprentice with a pipeline company in England, he’s traveled the world and built a solid reputation as an industry expert.

“I’ve worked in over 30 different countries, and lived in many for months or years,” he said. In his role as a troubleshooter for a major pipeline company in Tulsa, he could expect phone calls to send him anywhere in the world.

“You didn’t know where you would go the next day,” he said. “Based on the problem with the equipment, you didn’t know how long you’d be there. You had to be there until the job was rectified.”

Working with PFERD, Michael consults with pipeline professionals on the frontlines and offers solutions tailored to each job. The tools must be able to withstand unpredictable and extreme weather conditions and comply with stringent safety requirements. We have more than 6,000 tools for surface finishing, cutting, rust removal, deburring, and more. Michael is a great resource for identifying which tools will be best for each stage of pipeline construction work.

We appreciate Michael’s guidance both internally at PFERD and externally with those who use our products on a daily basis. To learn more about our specialized pipeline solutions or discuss your current needs, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.

Eyes in the Skies – What’s Driving Aerospace Forward?

New technologies and materials have been revolutionizing just about every industrial sector. The trend toward greater efficiency without sacrificing safety has largely led these new shifts. The aerospace industry is among those facing changes.

The Role of Lightweight Material in Aerospace

In an effort to improve aircraft performance and fuel efficiency, many components are now being made with composite materials. These materials provide the same high-strength characteristics as other materials, but are a lightweight option.

Already, aircraft structures including fuselage, wing parts, nacelles, control surfaces, floor beams and even helicopter rotors are being made with composites. Carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs) are by far the most common materials being used in this application.

Why New Materials Require New Tools

Carbide Bur
PFERD FVK/FVKS Style Bur

Because these are newer materials in aircraft design, new tools and processes are needed to work with them. When cutting and machining these composite parts, workers have to be careful to avoid issues like delamination, fiber tearing, or heat damage. Traditional machining is made difficult because CFRP often splinters off into an abrasive dust.

In some cases, the traditional tools of this trade need to be reimagined for this particular material. PFERD’s Aerospace Market Manager, Chad Waltemyer, has been working closely with our product engineers to develop customized abrasive media to cut, grind, and contour these various composites. One example is with carbide burs where tooth geometry and spacing are critical to the performance of the tool.  PFERD FVK/FVKS style burs provide excellent cutting coefficient on most CFRPs for contouring edges.

Finding a Custom Solution for the Aerospace Market

As the Aerospace Market Manager, Chad helps customers get what they need-even if the necessary product doesn’t exist off-the-shelf.  For the past year and a half he’s been working closely with manufacturers in the aerospace industry to understand current trends and the specific requirements for their unique applications.  Communicating those needs to our engineering team allows us to review each application and project and design the perfect product to fit.

Composite Brush
PFERD M-BRAD Composite Brush

Where Aerospace Manufacturing is Heading

As a partner to customers and leader on the shop floor, Chad sees a paradigm shift in deburring applications. Where operators have historically performed this operation via hand tools, he’s now seeing this application increasingly being performed on CNC machines.  He’s sees strong interest and demand for PFERD’s M-BRAD® composite brushes which is ideal for this application. Employing automation to this task has resulted in major cost reductions and processing time – all key objectives in the manufacturing process.

As a leading manufacturer of premium tools and abrasives, we are excited to see what new developments will come about in the aerospace industry.  To learn more about our custom capabilities, feel free to call (262) 255–3200 or email sales@pferdusa.com.

A New Sales Structure to Better Serve You

Continuous improvement is a major tenet of PFERD’s success. We not only seek to improve processes and products, but also the ways in which we operate. Overall, we strive to provide the best possible service to our customers.

We’ve recently realigned our sales structure to help us do just that. We’ve gone from two regions to three – with a West, Central and an East Region (see the map

John Hibbard, Regional Manager – West

below). By splitting up the territories this way, our sales staff will be able to build better relationships within their customer bases. Different regions have different needs, so we want to make sure all customers receive the attention and representation they need.

Along with this restructuring comes some exciting changes to our Sales Management Team!  Our Western Region, formerly headed up by Ross Bevacqua, who has retired after 16 years of dedicated service to PFERD, is now being managed by John Hibbard.   John has had a successful 23 year career in various sales and operation roles at Stellar Industrial – a longtime distribution partner of PFERD’s.  John’s strong reputation in the industry and proven track record of prolonged success enable him to lead the Region with continued success and growth.

Jeff Hamilton, Regional Manager – Central

Our Central Region is being headed up by Jeff Hamilton, who was recently promoted to the position having served as Sales Territory Manager in the Mid-Atlantic area. Jeff brings several years of sales and technical experience to his new role, which gives him a keen understanding of end user and distributor needs in the metal working industry.

Don Brewer, Regional Manager – East

Don Brewer, who has been with PFERD for three years, will continue as Regional Sales Manager for the East.  Don’s strong knowledge and experience in the industry, as well as his dedication to PFERD ensures continued growth and success in a newly realigned Eastern Region.

Jon-Michael Raymond – VP Sales

John, Jeff and Don all report to Jon-Michael Raymond, VP Sales, who’s leading our overall sales effort here in the US.  We have a lot of exciting things in store for 2018 and know we have the right sales leadership team in place to position us for continued growth with a focus on collaborating with customers to offer the most innovative, products and solutions in the industry.

PFERD Regional Sales Territories

Race to the Finish – and Looking to the Future

2017 was a year of growth and development not just for PFERD, but for the communities we serve. We took part in numerous events with a mission of sharing knowledge and building excitement around the US manufacturing sector.

Encouraging the Next Generation of Manufacturers

Throughout the year, we donated time and materials to students interested in welding and other industrial professions. In February we donated products and prizes for Sequoyah High School’s 8th Annual Welding Competition. The event was hosted by the American Welding Society’s Chattanooga Section and featured dozens of student entrants.

We also sponsored a SkillsUSA WorldTeam welding competitor, who placed 5th overall in the event. The WorldSkills Competition took place in October in Dubai, and a team of 11 US competitors from around the country participated, bringing home four Medallions of Excellence.

Manufacturing Day Tour
Students Take Part in MFG Day

Our support of youth in the manufacturing sector also meant hosting a Manufacturing Day event on October 6th. We had about 120 students attend our open house and career fair to learn about our different departments and opportunities. They also got to use some tools – with proper safety precautions!

Supporting Women in STEM

While extensive efforts are being made to recruit young people in the manufacturing sector, the skills gap remains a challenge. There’s the added challenge of showing young women that they can have rewarding careers in the industrial world.

Over the summer, we hired two female engineering interns to assist with key engineering projects including designing tooling molds and identifying methods to increase production efficiencies on the shop floor. Both interns added value to our team, making strong contributions during their time at PFERD.

Reaching Out to Fabricators

Toward the end of 2017 PFERD was busy preparing for and attending two major events – FABTECH and the PRI Trade Show.

FABTECH_2016
PFERD Demonstration at FABTECH

FABTECH 2017 is a key platform for us to highlight the solutions and value PFERD products bring to the metalworking industry and this year’s show was a great success! At this year’s show  we incorporated gamification as one of our marketing strategies with – PFERD DERBY! This was a web-based application that rewarded participants based on the number of challenges they completed. In the end, we had three top winners:

  • 1st prize – Drew Painter – Equipment & Lab Specialist, Mid-State Technical College (Wisconsin Rapids, WI)
  • 2nd prize – Hallie Madole – Student, Truckee Meadows Community College (Reno, NV)
  • 3rd prize – Aaron Wulk – Welding Instructor, Mid-State Technical College (WI)

The 30th annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show was another high point in our year. We met with fabricators and other professionals in the racing industry to highlight our offering to this market and introduce product lines that fit well for this production niche.

Planning for the Future

As we begin the next chapter in 2018, we’re already looking forward to new opportunities for growth. Keep checking back to see what we have planned for the year ahead. And if you have any ideas for how we can get involved in your projects, let us know!

Find PFERD at PRI 2017

From December 7-9, 2017, racing leaders from around the world will converge at the 30th annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show at the Indiana Convention Center  in Indianapolis. For racing professionals, this is the premier event to learn about new products and industry trends.

Grinding Wheel
CC-GRIND® SOLID grinding wheel

Unlike consumer-focused auto shows and race events, PRI brings together manufacturers, distributors, fabricators, and professional race teams and representatives. This gives everyone a chance to see what types of new products and services are available, and gives buyers a chance to update their supplier list. Because all attendees have a professional stake in the event, there are more opportunities for meaningful business connections.

PRI 2017 looks forward to hosting more than 1,100 exhibitors in over 3,400 booths. Suppliers will show off recent advancements in automotive racing products and in the motorsports industry as a whole. There will be numerous networking and educational opportunities, with conferences, seminars, and other events taking place around the Indiana Convention Center that week.

Visitors can find us in the Yellow Hall, at Booth 5443.  We’ll have our full product offering on display, highlighting some unique products especially useful for

Grinding Discs
POLIFAN CURVE radial flap discs

fabricators in the auto and racing industries.  Products such as our POLIFAN®-CURVE – the patented radial flap disc that lets you easily grind those challenging fillet welds, our CC-GRIND® SOLID,  a super-aggressive grinding wheel that’s hard to beat, our 3” cut-off wheels for fast, easy cuts and our unique High Performance carbide burs that quickly remove high amounts of stock and come in material specific designs for materials such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron.

To learn more about the show and to register, visit PRI 2017 online. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter before or during the event for updates! We look forward to connecting with you at the show!

Meeting the Next Generation of Manufacturing Leaders

Every October, the industrial sector comes together in support of Manufacturing Month. This time of year is filled with open houses and informational sessions to get people interested and excited about the role of manufacturing in the United States. On October 6th, we celebrated National Manufacturing Day by inviting local middle and high school students to PFERD’s manufacturing facility.

Manufacturing Day Tour
Students Take Part in MFG Day

This Manufacturing Day, we had about 120 students take part in our open house and career fair. All of the students involved are already enrolled in STEM PLTW (Project Lead the Way) coursework, so this gave them a further look at real-life applications for the concepts they’re learning about in school.

During our Manufacturing Day event, students were able to talk to representatives from different departments at PFERD to learn about what they do each day. They were taught about our business as a whole, the educational backgrounds of some of our workers, and the many opportunities that are available to people within the industrial sector. Getting to meet with actual employees and ask questions about their work allows young people to get a more comprehensive look at the different roles within a company.

The students also got to participate in hands-on sessions using some of our tools, including files, wire brushes, and non-woven finishing products. They even got to use some power tools – but no sparks! Safety always comes first, and we made sure to get that point across, too by handing out safety glasses and demonstrating the proper way to put in ear plugs.

We gave our visitors a plant tour and showed them how our wire brushes are manufactured using automation and other new technologies. From processing and finishing, through logistics and warehousing, we provided a well-rounded experience.

As a North American manufacturer and supplier of premium finishing tools and abrasives, PFERD is always looking for fresh talent to move our company forward. Building off a 200-year history, we understand the importance of keeping up with the times through new technology and ideas. For this reason, it’s vital to continue the tradition of attracting young people to this field. By hosting annual Manufacturing Day events, we expose the next generation to the diverse career options available to them.

MFG Day Logo
Manufacturing Day 2017