Angus Robertson Mechanical leads the 
way with steel rollforming automation

Steel rollforming automation: Angus Robertson Mechanical offer rollformers for residential and commercial roofing, and structural purlins and framing.

Steel rollforming automation: Angus Robertson Mechanical offer rollformers for residential and commercial roofing, and structural purlins and framing.

Creating rollformers for rainwater products and weather flashings is but one of Angus Robertson Mechanical’s expertise, which includes rollformers for residential and commercial roofing, and structural purlins and framing.

In the last 10 years Angus Robertson Mechanical (ARM) has fabricated around 100 rollformers, 30 of which were for rainwater products and weather flashings for the New Zealand and other markets. Styles range  from square or box gutter profiles to quarter round and half rounds.

“I think most people prefer the look and strength of a rollformed product over plastic alternatives. Steel, copper and non-work hardening grades of stainless steel are also able to be rollformed on the same machines,” ARM chief engineer Grant Segar says.

Compact versions of these rollforming machines have become popular for rollforming products on the building site. Longer lengths can be run and joins are minimised, resulting in a very “clean” look.

ARM also offers toolmaking services, and can design and manufacture press tools to produce gutter brackets, fascia brackets and stop-ends to suit customer requirements. It also produces rollformers to manufacture rectangular and round downpipe in a wide range of sizes, as well as steel fascia and ridging rollformers.

The number of flashing on new buildings has greatly increased in recent years as a direct response to the problem of leaky buildings. Mr Segar says many of the flashings are still made on folders and brake presses, but they can also be rollformed.

“Rollforming offers far greater productivity than other folding methods, however dedicated tooling is generally required. For our customers, it all comes down to what volume is required and what payback period is acceptable. A rollformer is generally a long term investment and our machines offer a level of quality that reflects this,” he says.

One such rollformer is scheduled for delivery to Bluescope Acier in New Caledonia. The purlin mill is for producing Cee Purlins, U channels and associated fish plates in material from 1.2mm to 3mm thick high-tensile (G550) steel.

ARM director Angus Robertson says that with the BlueScope Noumea  rollformer, changes in profile and sizes are automated and are set at the main control console.

“The only manual adjustment is for coil width and coil change. Holes can be punched anywhere on the product. Hole positioning is set on the main computer with a visual display of hole size and location coming up on the screen. Rollforming speed is 35 metres per minute and change over time for different sizes is less than three minutes,” he says.

“Product geometry and straightness is of paramount importance.”

Bluescope Acier representative Cedric Dedieu says BlueScope Acier New Caledonia has worked with ARM for four years, and has purchased four rollformers (corrugate, hi-rib and purlin mill) and two curving machines.

“This partnership is possible because the machines designed and manufactured by ARM suit BlueScope’s needs close to perfection. Indeed, BlueScope specifications are very strict, especially regarding safety and productivity and ARM staff have always passed the challenge to innovate and design tailor-made machines to comply with those requirements,” Mr Dedieu says.

“On the latest machine, the purlin rollformer, one of the main challenges was to design a run-out table to reduce the efforts required by manual handling of long purlins, without significant investments in automation. At the end of the day, Cedrick Gnibekan, the operator involved in factory acceptance tests, was satisfied of the design of the run-out table and has praised the ergonomic improvement provided by this element.

“ARM staff can be proud of the quality of their job and service provided to their customers.”

ARM lead electrician Julyan Collett says providing customised controls and automation features to the rollformers is a major advantage to clients.

“With more than 20-plus years of industry experience, we are able to customise. Having this flexibility means we can create exactly what a customer may require. All of our new control systems are innovative, bespoke and leading edge,” Mr Collett says.

ARM rollformers are controlled via PLC or PC-based software, all of which is created within the company.  It can supply offline-order-entry capabilities for any rollformer, “to help customers increase their productivity that little bit more”.

The rollformers manufactured by ARM range from standard cut-to-length lines to specialised, customised operating system to match the one-off machine.
The range of works they accept can start from complete new designs to the electrical and mechanical refurbishment and upgrade of most old machines.

Operating interfaces range from a simple keypad with an LCD display, an HMI touchscreen attached to the rollformer, or a desktop monitor based at a control station that can be either attached or remote to the machine.

Depending on customer requirements, the rollformers can be produced to meet Cat 3 and Cat 4 safety ratings. ARM also upgrades machinery guarding to comply with current guarding regulations.

ARM service manager Matthew Festing says another focus for the company is preventative maintenance, where maintenance is done at a mutually agreeable time and major breakdowns are avoided. “We aim to keep our customers in production, so that they can keep making money.

“We provide full breakdown, servicing and maintenance capabilities for not only our own but also any alternative machinery. We have a staff of 20 to call on in case of major overhauls,” Mr Festing says. ARM capabilities include surface grinding of shear blades and cylindrical grinding of shafts, wire-cutting, turning and milling (both CNC) and fabrication.

Machine upgrades are common and can result in valuable performance increases for older machinery. Modern safety requirements especially around machine guarding need to be applied to older machines as well. We can assist the owners of older machinery to come up with guarding solutions that are both safe and practical. Our experience in guarding our new machinery helps in this regard.

Photo: A newly fabricated rollformer goes through final tests at ARM.