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"Just in Time" Steel Framing

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With the move to just in time offsite construction and the need for accuracy in design and manufacture of steel framing in the UK and Europe, Howick Ltd. have set up an office based in the UK to provide service and support for their existing customers and also the sales expertise to help new customers choose the right machinery to meet the needs of their company.

Howick Ltd. has a 26 year history of innovative engineering that has put the company at the forefront of just in time rollforming technology. The Howick Frame Machine has been developed over the last 10 years and the company has now supplied over 100 machines worldwide.

Howick's Frame Machine is a factory based machine that saves time and labour by creating fully processed framing components. Automatically sizing, punching, dimpling and notching the studs and tracks.

Components self-clip together with no clamping, jigging or drilling required. This means the operator can simply snap the studs together, add screws or rivets and have a completed wall, floor or roof truss without using assembly jigs. Advantages of the dimple feature means that by using wafer head screws, screw heads will sit flush with the surface, allowing the plaster board to sit flat on the framing.

Traditional methods of using wood or steel produces 10 - 15% waste, the Frame Machine makes components to exact lengths with no waste.

The Frame Machine minimises wastage of using wood and stock length steel stud and enhances the advantages of using steel. It is a complete steel framing solution integrated into one machine allowing you to produce framing, trusses and lattice beams from one machine. Steel frames use a unitform section which, unlike timber, isn't susceptible to natural defects like twisting, bowing or water absorbtion.

The Frame Machine is unique in the fact that it can produce end-bearing studs that allow the stud rather that the fixing to carry the load exerted on the frame. This feature has been developed to allow the construction of high rise light steel framed buildings.

The second generation Frame Machine has an open source control system which allows it to accept files from any CAD package that can produce the required framing detail information. Currently the machine accepts files from the Vertex design package.

Once the framing has been designed the framing files are sent to the machine and the components are then produced and labelled according to the design ready for assembly, or flat packing, for site assembly.

There are two models of the standard machine available; a smaller machine which can produce framing in materials up to 1.2mm thick, and a larger machine to produce framing up to 1.6mm. The larger machine features the tooling that allows end-bearing panel production and also has space to allow the addition of extra customised tooling.

Howick is also developing other rollforming machines and testing for other applications in the building industry, including a new steel floor joist cassette system.

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