An Iowa Precision service technician works on the new coil line. Visible in the picture is the Insulmatic, control console and Cleatformer.
How do you get a five-foot coil line inside an already pretty packed sheet metal shop?

No, that¿s not the start of a joke. It was the situation facing the Iowa Precision engineers last year assigned to install a complete 60-in. Iowa Precision Fabriduct coil line at a small, 3,000-sq. ft. sheet metal shop located about a half-hour from Washington, D.C.

The Fabriduct system uses a modular design with 11 integrated, flexible workstations. Its design is ideal for smaller shops. It produces commercial or residential duct with formed connections, including Pittsburgh seams, snap lock, TDC, slip and drive seams and joints. It also processes flat sheets, four-piece duct as well as duct in L, U and wrap-around sections. It can create a section of wrap-around, insulated duct averaging one joint every 15 seconds.

While the Fabriduct line is considered a ¿streamlined¿ system, allowing greater installation flexibility, it¿s still fairly big, and installation isn¿t easy, even in the largest of sheet metal shops. But this was a project most of the engineers from Iowa Precision had never attempted before. ¿Most people would never even dream of putting together something that big in that small a building,¿ said Robert Molish of Production Products Inc. in Charlotte Hall, Md. Production Products sold the coil line to the shop.

Making the installation even more difficult: much of the shop¿s floor space was already taken up with brakes, pin spotters, plasma cutters and other equipment. The new coil line was 64 ft. long and 21 ft. wide. It soon became evident to everyone that the machine would have to be significantly modified if it was ever going to fit. Molish said he started to think it was going to almost be like building one of those model ships inside a bottle.

Four semi-trucks were required to bring the coil line to the shop. Once there, engineers made changes as they constructed the coil line. ¿We modified the dimensions of the width as well as the other configurations of the unit,¿ Molish said. ¿We modified everything from the control console to the transfer tables to make it possible.¿

Within three days, the complete coil line was up and running. It took up almost 1,400 of the shop¿s 3,000-sq. ft., but it fit. Bill Gass, an engineer with Production Products, said even the Iowa Precision representatives were surprised at how well it turned out. ¿The Iowa Precision guys that came out and looked at it were like, ¿Oh my God¿¿ They had never put anything into that small of a shop before,¿ Gass said. ¿Iowa Precision knows of nobody who has placed a full Fabriduct line in a smaller shop."