In this special episode we are recording at Fabtech Atlanta 2022 from our booth. We had Beau Wigington from Weld.com join us and take time out of his busy podcast schedule. Beau runs the podcast for Weld.com called WELD by Weld.com. Donovan asks about some of the guest he has had on his podcast both at Fabtech and overall. Beau also tells us about what they do at Weld.com and how they want to help educate new welders with knowledge and resources to further their career.
Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.
Donovan: Hello, welcome to another episode of the Dusted Jobs podcast. We’re here at FABTECH again, and joining us is Beau Wigington from Weld.com. How you doing today, man?
Beau: I’m doing wonderful. How are you?
Donovan: I’m doing good. So you have been doing podcasts right across from our booth all show too
Beau: Right across the street, man? Yeah, we’re neighbors.
Donovan: We’re neighbors. We are.
Beau: It has been real fun.
Donovan: And now we are podcast friends.
Beau: Hey, we’re podcasting. Like I’m doing a podcast. You do podcasts. We’re just podcast people
Donovan: That’s it. So our podcast here at Imperial is, we talk a lot more about health and safety in the weld industry. Maybe some technologies that are coming out, but I feel bad. I don’t know a lot about your podcast and I probably know that some of the people that are listening to ours don’t know a lot about it either. So tell me what Weld.com podcasts is about.
Beau: So I took over the podcast back in April and when I took over… I’m new to the welding industry. I’ve been in it for about two years.
Beau: And I’m curious. I want to learn. I don’t know everything. I don’t pretend to know everything. So, that’s what I do on my podcast, I bring people on, I ask them what they do, try to learn things from them, and I try to ask questions like a beginner would. Because that’s what I am, you know? It’s not that hard for me to act like I don’t know what you’re talking about, cause a lot of times I don’t but and I’m okay. Like, I don’t mind if people are like, oh, well, he doesn’t know anything. I know a lot now and I’ve learned a lot through this podcast. But you’ve learned a lot from people?
Donovan: Same here. Yeah, I have learned a lot. I mean, we’ve had a lot of different industries on our podcast, and, I’ve learned about everything from OSHA regulations whole way down to Hemp manufacturing. And these are things I never thought I would’ve dug into, but there we are.
Beau: There you are. Yeah, I interview a lot of welders, a lot of manufacturers, just people in the welding, like pipe welders, production welders, CWI’s. A lot of our hosts come from Weld.com. We have people all over the world that are making educational content for us. So like, I’ve interviewed people, and we have a couple of German hosts.
Beau: A bunch of people up in Canada. There’s some people in South America. So it’s really interesting hearing what the industry is like.
Donovan: So if I jump on Weld.com right now, I get on there. What are some things I might get on there to learn about? What are some topics that are really good? If I’m a welder and I’m looking, what would I be finding out on you guys’ website?
Beau: So our website would take you to one of two places. It would say, hey, here’s our YouTube channel. We’ve got tons of educational content on there, but we also just launched an app because everybody loves apps, right? It’s not like you don’t have 700 apps on your phone but this one is for welders. It’s called the Weld app.
Donovan: Okay. Oh, got you.
Beau: By Weld.com. And the big thing on it is that instead of like… so Instagram is a big place for welders. Everybody. But the algorithm is just… you post something and it only gets seen by X amount of people. So we have a social media aspect. So if you want to share your work, ask questions, it’s not like you’re fighting an algorithm, it’s just there. It’s like you can see everybody.
Donovan: So, it’s just a place for welders to share that.
Beau: Yes. For welders to share… if you’re in the industry. So there’s also a job board, so If companies are trying to hire people…
Donovan: Nobody’s looking for welders right now.
Beau: I mean, yeah, there’s not many welding jobs out there
Donovan: There’s a total abundance of welders in the market.
Beau: Oh, Yeah, there’s too many welders and not enough jobs right?
Beau: No, it’s the exact opposite. Right. And so we have a job board where companies can compose, but we’re also going to implement it where a welder can put themselves out there and say, I’m certified in these things, this is how far I’ll travel and this is how much you’re going to pay me
Donovan: Oh, yeah.
Beau: So like, we’re really trying to advocate for welders. Yeah. We want to grow the industry and we also want to help people get paid what their worth, because, I mean, that’s a big problem with the industry right now. You get out of school and you’d try to go into the industry and you’re getting paid like nothing. You know, compared to what you’re worth. Like even a new welder, like they’re worth something. Like, all these companies try to bring them on and they’re just like, oh no, we’re not going to hire you unless you have five years of experience. It’s like, okay, where are those guys at? Then you’re going to hire them for $15? With five years of experience? You’re crazy!
Donovan: That’s not going to happen these days. Yeah. That’s crazy. And why wouldn’t you want to hire a guy out of school? You can train that person to weld the way you want them to weld. You can train them to do it the way that they’re not going to learn any bad habits from other shops. They’re not going to have, you can bring them into your environment and teach them. We’ve hired a lot of guys in our shop straight out of our trade school to our local trade school, and we know that they’re getting a good education there. And then we know that they’re coming in and we can continue to build on that. You know, so at our shop, I know we’re not afraid to hire a young guy or a new guy because in our mind that’s better than someone who’s…
Beau: I mean, you want to… it’s like, okay, I’m going to teach you how to… you’re going to learn on the job anyway. Like, if I’m going to go and do like, work in plants, you know, you might, you’re going to learn how to pipe weld in a school environment, but it’s not usually going to be on the material you’re going to do in the field.
Donovan: So, it’s not hanging upside down on a crane to do it
Beau: Yeah. You’re not learning how to do it that way and you’re going to have to learn it on the job. Right. You know, and that’s just the crazy part. So we’re trying to get more welders jobs. Right. Like more welders to just be out there and find good jobs. We’re also doing a marketplace, we’re still building that aspect of it. But Instead of buying machines on like eBay, Facebook marketplace and then they ship it there and it’s like full of like jelly beans or something, you know, it’s just a totally worthless machine. We’re going to try to vet stuff to make sure, you know, you’re getting a good quality machine right. Not a hunk of junk, you know?
Donovan: Well we’ve, you know, our machine has been in the market for a while and we’ve had customers call us that they’ve done that. They’ve bought it off on an online site and it shows up and it doesn’t have any filters or it’s missing half the parts. And they’re trying to…
Beau: And they’re like, Hey, what’s up with this thing I bought secondhand?
Beau: Well, you know, if you would’ve come to us, we could’ve definitely helped you out, but yeah, I’m going to still try to help you.
Donovan: Oh yeah, we for sure. We would definitely always help whoever’s out there and we have a team that can go out and we’ve helped them put it back together and service it so it’s up and running like new. So, yeah.
Beau: That’s awesome. And then the last part of the app, like the most important part is that we are a welding Education Company. You know, we’re trying to educate people. So we have a whole education suite on it. So, you know, if you want to learn how to do a specific certification test, we have videos on it with timestamps. You’re like, oh, I’m only having problems with my bills on my 3G stick plate. You know, I’m having a hard time with that filler pass. I’ll just jump. It’s all broken out into, you know, you don’t have to scroll through it. You can go right to what you want to see. If you have a question, the instructor that made that video is linked at the bottom, you can ask them directly the question that you have, like, if there’s any questions. You got it. And also in the feed, we have a lot of newer welders on the weld app right now because on Instagram if you post a bad weld everyone would be like, give up! Go home!
Beau: You know?
Donovan: It’s full of positivity.
Beau: Oh yeah. It’s a wonderful environment. Yeah. You know, it’s like, it doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out. Yeah. The big thing we’re trying to do is make people comfortable to ask questions. You know, because we have teachers, we have certified welders, we have CWIs, and we have people that can answer a question with real knowledge. And give you like, just help people. Because a big thing that’s happening in the industry is old people are retiring. Right? Like the older welders that have all this wealth of knowledge, they’re retiring and that knowledge is going with them. Right. So like, we’re trying everything we can to just get that knowledge, like save it and pass it on. You know, get people connected with people that can help them grow their skills. Because they’re not going to just learn it in school, you know?
Donovan: No. And I know those guys that are in our shop that are older, they’re excited when those young guys come in and they’re willing to listen and learn. They like it when they have questions rather than just trying to do something on their own. So I think there’s a lot of value in that where there’s a community of experienced welders out there that are really interested in this next generation that is coming up and getting them to not make the mistakes maybe they made when they were starting out. So that’s awesome that you guys are doing that. That’s great!
Beau: That’s a big thing. We’re just really trying to promote the app here, but you know, it’s just trying to like, we’re going to try to work with the CWB to like work on it in the Canadian content, you know, just like anywhere you go in the world, we’re trying to be a global welding resource, you know? So anywhere you are in the world, we want to help you get better. We want to help you get to where you want to be.
Donovan: Well, welding’s welding everywhere
Beau: It is. It’s crazy. You stick those pieces of metal and it’s the same thing everywhere. Exactly.
Donovan: So how many interviews do you think you’ve done at the show so far?
Beau: I have no idea. I have at least six hours, so.
Donovan: Oh man. You’ve been cranking it up
Beau: I have some work
Donovan: Have you heard any really interesting or crazy stories so far in the time you’ve been doing interviews?
Beau: In the time we’ve been doing interviews? Okay, Yes. So one of the craziest interviews I had, there’s a metal sculptor out of Canada, his name’s Kevin Stone. Crazy. He’s like building a giant replica of one of the Game of Thrones dragons. He’s built like, gigantic T-rexes out of stainless steel. He’s got the… he made the giant eagle at Dollywood, you know. It’s like he’s done some cool stuff and
Donovan: Pretty legit
Beau: Dude that, that story was crazy like… he had so many legal battles because people were trying to rip him off all the time. Like he had partners that just screwed him over, tried to like, sell stuff out from underneath him.
Donovan: Oh my gosh! And this is on one of your podcasts?
Donovan: So people could go listen to that on your feed?
Beau: Yeah, absolutely
Donovan: Oh, that sounds awesome, man.
Beau: That one was pretty crazy here I met a guy, his name is Mike Ride Your Bike. He’s awesome. Like one of the just very knowledgeable guy. Yeah. But he is like so passionate about welding, but he was telling me all about bush cutter planes in Alaska. He loves them like, he’s a forestry guy. So he was working on those all the time and he just told me all about these bush cutter planes and was so passionate about it. That’s my favorite thing when I’m talking to somebody. If you’re passionate. It’s like, that’s what I like. I don’t like okay, here’s your cookie cutter answer you know?
Donovan: So, if you listen to the Fab Tech podcast you’re doing, you might hear a little bit from Mike ride your bike.
Beau: Oh, you’re definitely going to hear it from Mike ride your bike. He’s one of my favorite hangs so far.
Donovan: Maybe Mike ride your Bike will get his own episode down the line.
Beau: Hey, I hope so. He is a wealth of knowledge man. It’s crazy just hearing him every time, I mean, because I’m trying to interview more just people coming through the conference being like, Hey, why are you here? What are you trying to get out of Fabtech? And like, what do you think? You know? It’s like trying to get. This is my first time at Fabtech, so I’m trying to let people not be as caught off guard as I was. I was just like, oh my goodness! This is crazy. People walking in. So that’s what my goal with this week is, kind of get people a vibe of what it’s like to be at Fabtech and why it’s important that’s another thing.
Donovan: And what’s interesting is just in those two stories you shared when we were talking about welders and we had one guy who’s a sculptor and another guy who’s working on bush planes and that’s just when you started to get into the welding community, it’s not just, you know, fixing the fender on a car. There are so many things that you could do. There’s just, it’s a skillset that you could probably go into a lot of fields and do a lot of really interesting things, whether from working on top of a building to you know working in Alaska.
Beau: That’s another thing that I want to do on the podcast. Like that’s a passion of mine. When I went through school, it was like, all right, you can, you can be a manufacturer welder, you can be a structural welder, and you can be a pipe welder. I was like, that’s pretty lame. I was like, there’s only three things to do. You know, and I was like, no way. I got to learn more. And so my goal with our Podcast is showing people how many different facets of the welding industry there are. So, oh yeah. You’re like, man, I really hate doing mig welding and I hate welding in general. Oh, well I could go into metallurgy. Oh cool! I can learn about filler metals. I can do robotics. It’s like, I don’t like welding with my hands, but I can program a computer. Dude, you got a job forever. Because that’s where the industry is going.
Donovan: There’s so many robots and co-bots at this show right now that if you’re a young person listening to this and you’re looking to get into welding, that’s definitely a realm that is going to be up and coming back Field.
Beau: It’s crazy. There’s laser welding, and there’s like micro laser welding. Yeah. There’s all kinds of crazy, like I was so excited to see these co-bots because I’ve been, I was told about them and I’m like, these things don’t exist. And so I finally saw it, I was like, damn! Crazy!
Beau: Like it’s innovating. Like that’s just going to help people out a lot
Donovan: Right. And, as we’re trying to make the industry healthier and safer. Yes. Those are some things that if you’re, you know, a lot of times when people were welding on really toxic materials that’d have to be in a respirator all day. Where now the co-bots are able to be there and they’re able to handle that and get the actual operator away from it. And that’s kind, that’s what we’re about here, you know, and then we can collect those fumes on that robot where you don’t have to be near it so you’re healthier and go home a little better. So yeah. Technology.
Beau: You won’t get the metal fever. You know, you don’t have to go home and eat a bunch of cheese and bread and milk and try to fight that metal fever.
Donovan: The metal fever. Exactly.
Beau: So everybody tells you… that was like, I was terrified coming out of school. They’re like, don’t you ever weld galvanize because you’re going feel like you have the worst flu you’ve ever had. And then like one of my first weld tests I went out to take was an uphill galvanized test. And I was like, do you guys have any like fume extractors? Do you have any like respirators? And they were like no it’s cool. I was like, awesome. Well, like they warned me about this. I like did my test like way back here I had it all stretched out and I went home and ate like five cheese sticks just in case. But I think I think I was pretty safe.
Donovan: Well you’re still here today so that’s good.
Beau: Barely. They hit through.
Donovan: So, I really appreciate you sharing about what you guys have going on in there. It sounds great. Exciting. If anybody’s listening, they can probably find you guys on every social media platform or?
Beau: Yeah. Weld.com is where you can find the majority of our stuff. If you’re looking for my podcast, it’s weld by Weld.com. It just weld. It’s like, what do you want to learn about? Weld. I want to learn how to weld.
Donovan: Yeah. Well that’s great. Hey, I appreciate you giving us a minute today to talk. I know you probably already have people lining up in your booth because they want to talk to you.
Beau: I got to set some stuff up that’s for sure
Donovan: So we’ll let you get going, but thanks again.
Beau: Hey, I appreciate you for having me
Donovan: Yeah, it’s great to meet you. Well, I’m sure we’ll probably talk to you again somewhere down the line.
Beau: Oh yeah, we’re right across the street. You come on. You got to come on mine next.
Donovan: You go. Maybe you have to come up and meet us up in Mercer, PA someday.
Beau: I would love to. I mean, just seeing like the gamut of what you all have, like it’d be cool to see it in facilities and stuff and I really want to help get the word out for yours too. Yeah. You know, it’s like this is American made good stuff. You don’t have to wait for it to come all the way over from like Shipped from out of the country. It’s right here.
Donovan: It’s right here. Serviced right here. It’s made right here by American welders.
Beau: That’s what we’re doing.
Donovan: There we go!
Beau: Welders doing stuff together!
Donovan: Exactly. Awesome. Well thanks for listening. If you want to enjoy more podcasts from us, you can watch them on YouTube. You can check us out on Twitter, Instagram. We’re on all the social media platforms. But until the next time we get to talk to you guys, stay healthy, stay safe and thanks for listening.
Beau: Thanks man.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer.
In this special episode we are recording at Fabtech Atlanta 2022 from our booth. We are talking with Brian Norris from Nordfab Ducting. He discusses what they do at Nordfab and what the different types of ducting there are and their different uses.
Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.
Donovan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Today, Brian Norris is here from Nordfab Ducting. How are you doing?
Brian: Doing excellent! How about yourself?
Donovan: Good! And if you’re listening this and it seems a little loud, it’s because we are at Fabtech. We’re doing a big trade show this week. And you guys are here too, aren’t you?
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re over in A Hall, booth 1946.
Donovan: So guys are looking forward to the first day of the show. We’re looking forward to a lot of people coming in and I’m sure you are too.
Brian: Absolutely. We got a full team over there ready to talk to people, and it’s been really busy so far.
Donovan: How many Fabtechs have you been to Brian?
Brian: So this is going on my fifth year with Nordfab, so five years.
Donovan: Do they still have it during 2020, or no?
Brian: Well, yeah that’s a good point. I think we did kind of furlough that one.
Donovan: Yeah, I couldn’t remember.
Brian: So maybe three. Three or four.
Donovan: But it’s always a great show for us. I’m sure it is for you guys too.
Brian: Absolutely. It is a great show. And it’s the last one of the year; we’re excited about it.
Donovan: For people who aren’t familiar with Nordfab: What is Nordfab?
Brian: So Nordfab Ducting is going on forty-four years now of manufacturing ducting. We’re in Thomasville, North Carolina. It’s kind of the furniture capital of the world, so think about textiles, manufacturing, dust, things like that… that’s kind of how we got started. And we kind of revolved into our quick fit plan, which is kind of our package plan…
Donovan: You said quick fit plan…
Brian: Exactly. We call it QF. But it’s our quick fit plan. It makes insulation extremely easy…
Donovan: As opposed to a slow fit plan.
Brian: That’s right. Or let’s say, the screws went in spiraling, or even bolts on a flange product which we got to talk about later…
Donovan: Sure, sure, okay.
Brian: But yeah, quick fit is our less labor-intensive way to install tons of ducting. It’s basically modular, so our pipes come in modular sections and you just clamp them together and go.
Donovan: Gotcha. So your style of duct work is a quick… quick… I’m going to mess this up. Quick fit clamp. There we go, I finally got it!
Brian: And we can call it QF if you want.
Donovan: QF! Let’s do that. That’ll make it easier. So you guys have a QF-style duct work. You mentioned it comes in five-foot sections.
Donovan: And you say it’s less labor intensive. So, everyone who is listening, we don’t have a piece here. Tell me how this works. Explain it to me.
Brian: It’s completely modular. So what’s great about it is you can system up. You can take a system down. You can move it across town…
Donovan: But you’re telling me there’s no screws or clamps on this.
Brian: That’s right. Just clamps together. So we have a rolled lip, and those two pieces of rolled lip are married together and then they clamp right down.
Donovan: So is it a lot like what you get on a barrel lid clamp?
Brian: Yeah, exactly. A lot like that.
Donovan: Okay. But then it holds the ductwork together.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely.
Donovan: And it’s solid enough that you don’t have to use anything else?
Brian: Nope. That’s it.
Brian: We do have a gasket of what we call a QFS, it’s a quick fit seal. If you have an oil mist application of where you want leakproof, we do have a gasket for that. But that would be the only real thing that you would do differently.
Donovan: Gotcha. Quick fit. QF. Is it okay to use in every application? Is it okay to use indoor, outdoor, is there spots where you should use it or shouldn’t use it?
Brian: Yeah, great question. You can use it anywhere. It’s a tried and tested product. We actually have third-party testing on it as well, so there’s leakage rates and all of that. In an outdoor application, because a system is inherently pulling moisture and there are some leakage points. You would want to add that quick UFS seal in an outdoor application, and then we’ll epoxy some of the branches and elbows as well if you tell us, so we’re not pulling moisture into the system.
Donovan: Gotcha. Because on a dust collection HVAC, we’re going to be at negative pressure…
Brian: Exactly. It’s going to bear pulling from all different areas.
Donovan: And I can say from the dust collector’s side, we don’t want to be sucking the rain in from outside.
Brian: That’s not a good thing. Exactly.
Donovan: So now that we’re putting it all together and it’s real simple and easy, how big of a piece can I get in this quick fit?
Brian: Great question. In our QF system we can do three inches in diameter all the way up to twenty-four inches in diameter. Anything larger than that, which we can go up to 84 inches in ducting.
Donovan: So your duct can be 84 inches from Nordfab…
Brian: But not in QF.
Donovan: QF goes to…
Brian: And then anything over twenty-four, we will do a flange on. So we vance on it, put a flange on it. And you can up anywhere from twenty-five to eighty-four.
Donovan: So we’re talking about a flange together, ductwork. That’s one that you actually have to bolt.
Brian: That’s right. So you got bolt pattern all around the flange. You got to put an individual roll with a nut on it, which is a little bit time-consuming.
Donovan: I can see how… when you get up to that size, how many bolts do you have to put in there?
Brian: I mean, an eighty-four-inch, we’re talking about a huge piece of ducting. It could be twenty, forty bolts.
Donovan: What about on like a twenty-eight-inch piece?
Brian: Ah, well that’s the other thing. We do custom bolt patterns. You could do as little as three or four, or as many as twenty if you wanted.
Donovan: So you could have twenty in that, but if you did a quick fit, it’s just one clip, and you’re done.
Brian: Less than ten seconds. Throw the clamp on. Put the carter pin in. Move on to the next one.
Donovan: So to put these systems together, do you have to come to you guys to get a specific training on how this goes together? Is this something that someone who owns their own woodshop or their own weld shop… could they do it on their own?
Brian: Yeah, in theory anyone could put this together. There are Youtube videos out there on how to put it together. It’s super simple. We have woodshop guys do their own installations all the time.
Donovan: Okay. Are there other companies out there that also have this system in place.
Brian: Yeah absolutely. We have competitors that try to copy and mirror what we do, if you will. But we still think we do it a lot better.
Donovan: So what’s different about you guys and them?
Brian: A little bit of history about Nordfab: We’re ISO-certified 9001 to 14001, okay? We laser cut. We laser weld. And we build quality into the product. We’re trying to give you the very best product we can, built into the product. And we think we do it better than others, and we have a ton of tools that can go along with that. But we think we do a really good job at manufacturing that. And we are a global company. Majority of our corporate headquarters is in Thomasville, NC. The majority of what we sell globally is out of that facility. But we have other locations around the world as well and we’ve been doing it for a long time and we really take a lot of pride in what we do.
Donovan: That’s great! So, let’s take a little bit of a shift here. Obviously, you guys sell ductwork. But if I’m a shop owner, or a business owner, or a weld shop… I know it’s not as simple as buying some ductwork and putting it up there. I mean, there’s got to be some type of formula. I’ve been in a lot of facilities and you don’t just have one piece of ductwork that’s the side of… well, actually you do see that in some places. But from the dust collection side we know that that’s not the best way to do that. So do you guys help at all with someone who just wants to size that system out?
Brian: Yeah. Absolutely. So, one thing we see a lot of people coming to us wanting the help. So we go to market through dealers and distributors. We don’t sell direct. But we do like to take and foster those leads and work with those individuals through a specific dealer in their market and try to help them out. Now we have some tools that help load the in-user end, our dealer out, and one of those that we just launched… and we love our acronyms, so I apologize here. It’s QFV, which is quick fit vid. So that’s our 3-D drawing tool that we’re very proud of. It’s a proprietary tool that Nordfab had developed to incorporate our ducting, our clamps, our accessories, all the things we sell along with our product reference playbook, if you will. So that tool’s very helpful, because what is different about that tool from our competitors is that it will do sizing for you, it will give you pressure loss calculations, and it kind of takes a lot of the guesswork out for someone who’s kind of a novice, and doesn’t understand all that.
Donovan: Right. So if I’m moving into my new woodwork shop, right? And I’m looking at everything, and I know where my equipment is going to be. Then I’ve got to figure out how to make sure all the ducts get sized properly, and I call up Nordfab. Next thing you’re going to do is send me to someone that you guys have already trained on how to do this, is that right?
Brian: That’s correct. So we have dealers all over the country that know how to use this tool and are using this tool to help generate those drawings and those quotes for those customers.
Donovan: And then that person will help work through the design and get my order together.
Donovan: And then send it to you guys and then you guys get it out the door.
Donovan: Gotcha. Gotcha. So, you’ve been doing this for a while. What do you think the biggest mistake is that you see a lot of people when they’re doing this… what do you think it is?
Brian: Well, what we see is, you got a piece of pipe, and then you got to drop down to a machine. People love T-branches. They think ‘Aw, that’s so easy. I’ll just run a T-branch down to that machine. A ninety-degree bend for airflow is not great, right? Contrary to popular belief. So we’ll incorporate elbows that may be on a thirty or forty-five degree and gently roll into that flow, rather than be on a ninety. So, we see that a lot. People want to throw Ts in there and they really aren’t that great for airflow.
Donovan: Might look like the right idea, but it’s not the right idea.
Brian: Exactly. And then the other thing we see is balancing flow. We sell manual and automatic blast gates. And so what a lot of guys will do with our manual blast gates… you get a lot of negative pressure in there… and they’ll actually use the blast gates… you can open them as much or as little as you want…
Donovan: Now you’re using the word blast gates…
Brian: It’s a little misconceiving. It’s more of just a gate that closes, we don’t actually use them for anything blasting.
Donovan: So it’s almost like a knife valve that’s in the pipe?
Brian: Exactly. It looks like a guillotine almost. So it’s sliding up and down inside of the pipe…
Donovan: And the point of that is to…
Brian: Well, there’s multiple uses. One that I was getting at is you can regulate airflow, right? So if you’re not getting the airflow you need, you can open it a little and bleed some air in to help regulate your airflow. And you can also put it as a capture point. So let’s say you’re a small woodshop, you’ve only got maybe a five-horsepower collector but you’ve got eight machines. Well, you’re one guy. You can’t run all eight machines at one time. So let’s close seven of them off, and only open one of them while you’re operating. So your collectors are working at full efficiency.
Donovan: And I know on our dust collector’s side that if you can do that, it actually allows you to buy a smaller unit which then can save you money and energy in the end.
Brian: Absolutely. So that’s another use for that.
Donovan: Now, one of the things I see people, in woodworking at least… they love the flex stuff.
Brian: They do.
Donovan: So what’s your opinion on flex stuff?
Brian: Less is more.
Donovan: Less is more?
Brian: Try to use less flex stuff. The more hard piping you can use, the better flow you’re going to get, in our opinion. We see a lot of people wanting to run all kinds of flex stuff and it’s never straight. It’s got a bend in it and it’s curled up, and it is challenging when you’re trying to collect dust and things like that.
Donovan: On our side, we say that really makes the system work a lot harder.
Brian: It does.
Donovan: Where it could be more efficient to pull more dust away from the process.
Brian: Right. Absolutely.
Donovan: Now we were talking about the slide piece. You started to say that’s how you would balance the system. Let’s say I have this much money this year, and I know I’m going to buy this piece of equipment. But I know that next year I’m going to have more money, and I’m going to buy more equipment. Does it make sense to buy the ductwork for the future? Or does it make sense to buy it later?
Brian: The good thing about quick fit is, you could buy an end cap. You can run a section twenty feet and put an end cap on it and stop the flow of air, right? Put them in the ends. You want to buy two machines later, the quick fix is you just unclamp it and start adding your pipes. So, with our modular quick-fix system, it makes it super simple to add another drop pretty efficiently later if you want to do that.
Donovan: We’ve experienced that too. We have a lot of people who you can go in and help adjust things later down the line. Hopefully peoples’ businesses keep growing, or they just get that new piece of equipment that’s going to help them and they’re not so locked into a framework that it makes it impossible for them to adjust or costs them a lot of money to adjust.
Brian: Exactly. And that’s why this is so great. You decide you want your machine on the left or the right, you just unclamp it, spin your ducting and you plant the back. That’s what makes the quick fit so great. You’re not stuck to one position or place.
Donovan: I’ve also been in places where the whole process has changed, and then they have to rearrange for where their machines are.
Brian: We see that a lot. A lot of companies change machines all the time. They don’t like it there, or they need more space. Things like that.
Donovan: So those are some things maybe if someone is trying to think ahead, they’re thinking about buying a machine. That’s what a lot of people are doing here at Fabtech.
Donovan: And when they start getting into that design phase, it might be something to consider, what’s coming up down the line.
Brian: For sure.
Donovan: Well, since we’re talking about other companies’ future growth and what they think is coming down the line, what about you guys? What about Nordfab? What’s coming up for you down the line?
Brian: We’re growing year over year ever since I’ve been down there and even before that, but it’s pretty exciting this year. We broke ground on a fifty-five thousand square foot addition.
Brian: So we should be under a roof here before Christmas on that. And we got some warehouse automation we’re incorporating next year. So our goal is to have more products and more standard products readily available on the shelf, ready to go so we can ship faster and provide the very best products as quickly as possible.
Donovan: So you’re going to keep doing what you’re doing, but you’re going to be doing it faster and trying to get the product out sooner? Sounds great!
Brian: And what we’re doing with that is we’re incorporating our quote tools and our drawing tools to point you in the right direction with more standard product that’s on the shelf. So when you’re drawing those drawings it’s going to…
Donovan: Let you know what’s available?
Brian: Yeah. It’s going to lead you down the right path so you can get the product faster. We’re working a lot of that stuff and it’s going to be really impressive. We’re excited about that.
Donovan: That does sound great. That sounds like a really good thing you have going on there.
Donovan: Well, is there anything else that you think is important to tell people about ductwork, other than probably don’t use spiral duct if you’re going to be in a high-pressure situation?
Brian: Do not! I mean, we had a conversation about that earlier about a guy that turned his collector on and his spiral duct collapsed.
Donovan: We did! We had a guy do that!
Brian: You know our product is twenty gauge, all the way down to ten gauge. So it’s a really robust product. Again, it’s laser cut, laser welded. Our clamps are the very best clamps. We keep reinventing the wheel and squeaking that clamp, and we’re on three or four iterations in the past few years just tweaking and making it that much better. And I think that’s what separates us from our competitors. We keep notching up the intensity every year and trying to do better.
Donovan: Not that the old one was bad, but the new one is better.
Brian: Yeah. And we talk to our dealers. We get feedback. They tell us what they like and they don’t like, and we try to incorporate that and make it better.
Donovan: Same here at Imperial. Well Brian, I want to say thanks for joining us, I appreciate it. I hope you guys have a great show.
Brian: Thank you guys for having us. You’re a great partner with Nordfab and we appreciate the business, and for having us here today.
Donovan: Yeah, yeah! So everybody out there who’s listening, thanks for tuning in, thanks for listening. We’ll be trying to do a few more of these from Fabtech, and hopefully, you guys enjoy them. Until next time, stay healthy and stay safe. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter… we’re on every social media platform. You guys are too, right?
Donovan: Check them out.
Brian: And again, we’re at booth A-1946, we’re at Fabtech. Stop by and see us.
Donovan: There you go. All right, thanks so much.
Brian: Thanks guys.
Donovan: Have a great day. Bye.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer.
Every year, the Imperial Systems team looks forward to FABTECH. It’s a great opportunity to see all the innovations and products that our industry has to offer. We have missed showcasing our products for the past two years and are eager to be back and show the industry what we’ve been up to. With new updates, new products, and a new product line, we’ve got a lot on which to get everyone caught up.
One of our goals at Imperial Systems is to continuously improve our products so they are easier for our customers to use. This past year, we introduced a touch screen control panel interface, the Keystone Controller, and we are eager to share this improvement with attendees at FABTECH.
“We are excited to introduce The Imperial Systems, Inc. Keystone Controller HMI (Human Machine Interface). The Keystone Controller is a unique graphical user interface that enables users to easily operate and monitor their CMAXX and Shadow dust and fume collectors,” says Tomm Frungillo, Director of Sales & Marketing. “The market spoke and we listened by creating an integrated control panel that is easy to learn, easy to use, and enables complete control and monitoring for all devices tied to a dust collector system.”
We are also eager to feature our newest product at the show. We realized that there was a gap in the market for a fume hood that was well built, had a small footprint, and was easy to assemble. We created the Air-Port Fume Exhaust Hood with all of these attributes in mind.
“Four years ago, we saw the need for a new, innovative fume hood design to bring to the market,” says Justin Badger, Sales Manager. “Other welding fume hoods were difficult to install, use, and just were not effective. The Air-Port is the most innovative weld fume hood on the market for robotic and manual welding. It launched in 2020, but we are excited to finally release it at an in-person trade show.”
The last piece of news we’re bringing to FABTECH is so big that it needed it’s own booth. Imperial Filtration, a new sister company to Imperial Systems, will be making it’s FABTECH debut this year. We will be showcasing the quality and care that goes into creating our filters. “Imperial Filtration’s ability to provide custom designed solutions to our aftermarket team is a real game changer,” says Joe Hunt, Filter Sales & Distribution Manager.
Imperial Filtration is specializing in replacement dust collector filters. Unlike our competitors, this allows us to concentrate on one area of expertise instead of spreading ourselves thin with pool filters, oil filters, HVAC filters, and more. Our filters are hand-built with care and attention to detail.
We’re looking forward to returning to FABTECH in Atlanta this year and showing the industry our new innovations. We hope to see you there – stop by booth #C11657 to check out our equipment innovations and booth #B4818 to see our new filter line.
High-efficiency dust collectors are well recognized for keeping industrial manufacturing environments clean. However, dust infiltration from neighboring manufacturing operations or particulate contaminants in outdoor air must be safeguarded in these facilities’ offices, conference rooms, control rooms, server rooms, and other similar places. An effective approach to this problem is room pressurization combined with adequate air filtration. While high-efficiency HVAC filters are often regarded as the most popular solution, cartridge-type industrial dust collectors used in conjunction with an existing HVAC system can be a more effective alternative.
How Room Pressurization Works
The application of positive or negative air pressure in a room to prevent dust entry is known as pressurization. Positive pressure (also known as “inflating the building”) keeps particle and gaseous pollutants out of a space by forming an air barrier between the interior and outside. When you go into a positively pressured environment from the outside, you’ll notice a “whoosh” of air fleeing owing to the greater pressure within the space. Positive pressure can keep hazardous outside air out of an office, server room, or other enclosed areas.
Negative pressure, on the other hand, may be employed in a pharmaceutical facility when strong substances are used to prevent dust from contaminating other portions of the plant — often in conjunction with containment systems. Negative pressure rooms are also commonly used in hospitals and medical settings to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses from one area to another. The air is blasted out of the treatment room, creating a negatively pressurized situation where, for example, when a door from the lobby is opened, the air rushes in instead of out. The air blasted out of the contaminated space passes through three filters, culminating in a HEPA (high-efficiency particular air) filter that filters to the same level as a N95 mask.
What are applications suitable for room pressurization with dust collectors?
Cement and lime manufacturing, metal and coal mining, pharmaceutical processing, grain processing, and power generation are the most common industries with dust collector pressurization needs. However, the procedure can be applied anywhere there is a lot of dust. Control rooms, server rooms, manufacturing clean rooms, compressor rooms, offices, quality control labs, substations, and motor control center (MCC) rooms are among the most typically pressurized areas.
To Pressurize or Not to Pressurize
Now that we’ve covered what room pressurization is, how do you decide if it’s a good choice for your facility? Consider the sort of dust, the conditions within and outside the area, and what (or whoever) you want to protect first. If workers in an office area are exposed to hazardous amounts of dust or fumes, you must clear the air to protect occupants from health risks and assure compliance with OSHA exposure rules. If your facility hosts expensive equipment, it would be worth it to invest in a pressurizing system to protect it. On the flipside,pressurization may not be worthwhile if it isn’t occupied by people and the equipment isn’t valuable.
How Dust Collection Can Help
Room Pressurization with dust collectors is intended for situations with high dust loads where HVAC filters would not last long enough. High-efficiency HVAC filters can quickly become overwhelmed in particularly dusty environments, needing to be replaced every few months or even weeks in some cases. If there are already HVAC systems in place, a dust collection system can be designed to take the existing system into account.
Cartridge dust collector filters, on the other hand, are made to manage heavy dust loads in industrial settings. Dust collector filters are automatically pulse-cleaned by blowing dirt off the filter surfaces and into a collection device with very brief bursts of compressed air. High-efficiency cartridge filters can last for years in a pressurization system before needing to be replaced. Imperial Systems’ DeltaMAXX Prime cartridges have 400 sq ft of filter media for longer filter life and better filtration.
If you work in a highly regulated business like pharmaceutical or food manufacturing, there may be limitations on the sorts of filters you can use and the level of filtration you can achieve. This would certainly be a factor when deciding if dust collection is the best choice for your room pressurization needs. On the other hand, a cost analysis will allow you to compare HVAC vs. dust collection filters. The dust collection professionals at Imperial Systems can assist you in determining the best solution for your facility and application.
In this episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast, Tomm Frungillo fills in for Donovan and talks to Sergio Flores. Sergio is the President of PrimeLines. Sergio talks about what the different industries PrimeLines works with as well as the different brands they represent. PrimeLines is a new Rep for Imperial Systems in South America with a focus on Mining in Peru and Chile.
Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.
Tomm: Welcome to the newest episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast. My name is Tomm Frungillo, director of sales and marketing for Imperial Systems. I’m going to be sitting in for Donovan on this episode, who normally does these. I’d like to welcome Sergio Flores from PrimeLines. Sergio is our rep in South America and other parts of Central America eventually, and probably the Caribbean, and maybe even Mexico at some time in the future. Right now focusing on mining and a few other industries within Peru and Chile and other areas of South America where mining is a large, important industry. What I would like to do is start out by, of course, welcoming you here to Mercer, to Mercer, Pennsylvania, to Imperial Systems.
Sergio: Thank you Tomm.
Tomm: We’ll talk a little bit about your background and the industry, and just your history professionally, where you came from, and what got you to PrimeLines.
Sergio: Hi Tomm. Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here. Like you said, my name is Sergio Flores, president of PrimeLines. We are a manufacturers rep company based in Miami. We have branches several countries like Panama, Columbia, Peru, and Chile, plus our headquarters in Miami. I personally am a mechanical engineer. I’ve been in this business for over twenty-five years mostly doing HVAC, which includes ventilation and industrial applications for HVAC.
Our main markets are the countries that I mentioned but mostly heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, but in some countries like Peru and Chile there’s a heavy mining industry where we have some experience. We have a very qualified engineer based in Peru, Carlos Aliaga. He is our partner for the industrial sector in Peru. Now we just opened a branch in Chile, which has a very well developed mining industry. Actually, it’s way older than Peruvian. Our plan is to branch into the Chilean mining industry using the experience and the history we have in Peru.
Tomm: Yeah, it’s really very interesting stuff, and I know that you’ve been doing this a long time.Carlos, who you mentioned, your main industrial engineer, has also been doing this a long time. I know he is very qualified in designing dust systems for mining and other industries. He’s been with you how long?
Sergio: Actually, three years.
Tomm: Three years.
Sergio: Actually, Carlos is a partner.
Tomm: He’s a partner in the business, okay.
Sergio: He is a business partner as well as Juan Carlos. The difference is Juan Carlos in Peru he takes care of the commercial side of the business. Carlos takes care of the industrial side of it. But they are both partners.
Tomm: Okay. Good to know. I know previously I did one of these podcasts a little bit more on the technical side of mining and how dust collection fits into mining and its nice that within your organization, of course, you understand this. You have a gentleman that can design for these things. I think it’s important as we move forward that basically the people that know Imperial Systems or that are learning about Imperial Systems understands that we have local representation there with knowledgeable people in the industry.
Sergio: I think it’s important to let the customers know that these are products or equipment that once they buy they’re not going to be orphaned. There’s going to be somebody local to look after them and to provide after sales support. It’s the same thing as coming to Miami or sending an email to Miami. You buy something and once it gets there nobody knows how to install it, how to service it, how o maintain it, so that’s what we’re offering to the customers in all these countries. That’s why we believe in having local presence in those markets where we want to sell.
Tomm: That’s important for us too, obviously.
Sergio: In our company we are all engineers. We are all mechanical engineers, and we know what we’re doing. We’re not just moving boxes out of Miami.
Tomm: Very critical and important point of all this. I think the other thing that PrimeLines brings being that you all are engineers is that you can bring a turnkey…
Tomm: …solution to the customer, to the marketplace, including design and of course equipment. We would work with you on installation, servicing the sale, aftermarket, the whole picture, cradle to grave, is something PrimeLines can offer.
Sergio: Actually, we try to become the consultant’s consultant. It’s very common for us. It’s our everyday job to get a call from the local consultants asking for technical support or some end customer to send us all the drawings done by their consultants for us to check everything before they buy. That creates kind of a commitment between the customer and us, a supplier. Sometimes we do the sign without charging a dollar for it in exchange for getting the purchase order.
Tomm: Yeah, I always found it interesting that theres a lot of the big engineering firms that are involved in mining. The Bechtels, and the Flores, and many different companies, and they have a lot of very good engineers of course that work for those companies, but not many of theme are good dust collection engineers. Right? It’s not something that they teach, really, in engineering school.
Sergio: You don’t learn that in college.
Tomm: Exactly. So, those companies, as big as they are, as qualified at they are, they have to rely on companies like you to make it really come together. That’s that void that you fill.
Sergio: We offer solutions.
Tomm: So, it’s exciting for us to have a presence like you down there representing Imperial Systems. I know most of your other lines have more of an HVAC presence I guess within your company, but you do have, for example, why don’t you talk a little bit about the other lines that you have.
Sergio: Yeah, our main product line – actually the one that motivated me to found this company, to create PrimeLines is Greenheck, Greenheck Fan Corporation. It’s a company that this year is celebrating their 75th anniversary. They started as a fans manufacturer but they have been diversifying now. They make dampers, fire dampers, control dampers, all kinds of fans, industrial, commercial, residential. They make architectural louvers. They make air handling units, energy recovery ventilators. It’s a really big corporation that represents maybe forty or fifty percent of our total sales.
That’s on the air side. It’s very common, especially in the domestic use market, it’s very common that a manufacturer rep is on the air side and a different company is on the water side. They are very specialized, very focused. We are on both sides. We are on the air side and on the water side. So on the air side we represent Greenheck and some other brands like Price Industries for air distribution, but on the water side we have very recognized brands like Taco or Bell and Gossett. They have been in the market for over 100 years and they are really premiere brands I would say. Those are, let’s say, our anchor lines. Then we have some other companies like Polaris Heat Exchangers. We have Imperial Systems. We have Eurovac. We have Mesan. Mesan USA is a cooling tower manufacturer, also part of our group. So we try to cover all the areas in our industry to provide a total packaged solution.
Tomm: It makes a very strong position, I think. Something I think we’re going to do quite a bit – I know we talked about somethings that I’ve been reading recently about projections in mining for Latin America and South America. Mining follows a pattern of hills and valleys. Several industries do, but mining especially. So, there’s a buildup and a lot of activity and then things kind of fade down and I think it’s like a five to seven year period between those hills and valleys.
Sergio: It depends on the commodities market, right?
Tomm: Right, yeah, and the demand of those products right? Depending on what’s going on in the world economy. The projections I saw were for 2023 and 2024 to be very strong years in mining after coming out of a valley and starting to build back up. So I think our timing is very good working together and understanding what we can do with Imperial equipment and the CMAXX dust collector down there on all of the mining applications – the primary crushing, the secondary, tertiary crushing, conveying, screening, all of those things we’ve talked about before that require dust collection. I think our timing is going to be very good right now.
Sergio: I think we came together at the right time. After the visit today I notice that your product has some specific features that we can use as spec lockers.
Sergio: If we can get into the specs with your product its going to be relatively easy to secure an order.
Tomm: Yeah, and we do have several of those with the CMAXX collector and they’re not just gimmicks. They’re things that make the operation or the maintaining of that collector much better.
Sergio: There’s really functional.
Tomm: Exactly. I appreciate your time here today, and I know we have a lot of things to go over and a lot of things to plan for. I know we talked about the different countries that we will focus on but I think mainly its Peru and Chile right now, and then eventually just kind of expand that out as we grow and then also mining being certainly the number one focus right now but there’s a lot of other industries down there that we can approach with the equipment line that we have, and with the knowledge that you have.
Sergio: So I’m very excited about this partnership. There’s only one way and it’s going to be up.
Tomm: It’s going to be up. It might take little time, but it’s definitely going to be up. I’ve done a little bit of this before, as you know, and you’ve done this before too. I think we’ve got some solid things behind us to allow us to grow.
Sergio: We have a strong foundation to build on.
Tomm: So, again, we appreciate your time coming in, and we’re looking forward to working together.
Sergio: Thank you Tomm.
Tomm: I’d like to thank Sergio. If you’d like to learn more about Imperial Systems you can visit our website. Also our YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tik Tok now. We appreciate everything that the folks that watch these podcasts and comment on them we appreciate that and look forward to the next one.
Sergio: Thank you for the opportunity Tomm.
Tomm: Thank you Sergio.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer.