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Vertex NC Link

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Howick Ltd chooses Vertex as their partner 

Vertex Systems UK has completed it's latest major development project in the form of a new NC link to Harrogate based Howick Ltd's rollforming machine. Howick Ltd. has its headquaters and manufacturing unit in New Zealand.


The offsite construction industry has begun to grow much more rapidly in recent times; with this growth has come the automation of the construction industry. Initially the steel framing was produced in the same way as timber framing, by cutting pieces by hand and fitting them together as specified. This method however is open to inaccuracies due to how the pieces are cut and attached. Then rollforming machines were used to cut the sections to length and reduce the manual work required and jigs were used to align the frames.

The machinery to rollform the stud sections has been around for a long time but 10 years ago Howick started to manufacture a stud machine that could place all of the required holes and location dimples to allow the framing to not only be manufactured to the correct size but be self locating and jigging. This now allowed the production of wall panels on a just in time basis that are both accurate and consistent.


“Our goal for the new Howick link was to complete a full library of features that all of Howick’s customers will find useful. What ever the user will build i.e. walls, floors or roofs they have the Howick connections straight away so all you need to do is start the NC interface and create an output file. It is also very easy to use,” says Matt Wood the Software Engineer who has developed the system.
The project has been big learning curve for Matt who first joined Vertex around a year ago as a junior software engineer. With this project complete it has opened the door for more development work tailored to our UK market. We are now able to do developments much quicker here in the UK.

The setup includes
   • Swage Joints
   • Notch Joints
   • Corner Joints
   • Service Holes
   • Web Holes
   • Bolt Holes
   • K and W bracing above windows
   • K and W and single bracing between studs
   • And a completely new floor truss system

Matt has worked closely with Howick’s European Manager Nick Coubray to ensure the new NC Link has met Howick’s requirements. When interviewed Nick commented that “Now that the development has been done for the framing machines it opens up the possibility of linking other Howick machinery into the buildings design such as our floor joist machine and purlin machines. We feel that with the quickly developing construction industry, by working closely with Vertex, we will be able to develop new products to meet our customer’s needs that can be easily incorporated into the design process.”



Why Vertex

When asked the question “why did you choose Vertex as you partner? ” Nick starts by telling us a bit more about the history of Offsite manufacturing: “The thing that was holding the market back was that initially there were only basic 2 dimensional software packages. These packages allowed the industry to become more automated but required the architectural drawings to be reproduced in the framing software. This proved to be time consuming and prone to errors if the original drawings were to be modified at a later time.” Nick explains to us that Howick’s first generation of Rollformers indeed had a 2D only design program to supply the information  to the rollformer, so he knows first hand what he’s talking about.

Nick goes on to tell more about the more recent history; “In recent times there have been a large number of 3D architectural packages come onto the market but the majority of these are purely architectural and don’t provide enough information to produce the framing directly from the drawings hence requiring the double handling of the drawings to produce the machine files.”

“This is where Howick’s partnering with Vertex has been so beneficial, because vertex allows the whole design to be done from the architectural model down to finite framing detail, with the addition of the nc link the framing information can be extracted so it can be manufactured.”


“This now allows our clients to design the whole project in one software package from initial concept and design through to the final framing design and then generate the machine file to produce the panels. The biggest advantage of this system is the time saving on the design process due to the lack of double handling the drawings. Vertex’s 3D design also allows the user to easily check that all of the corresponding frames are aligned so the loading of the building can be optimised to maximise the use of Howick’s unique end-bearing studs.” Says Nick Coubray.


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