When officials with MidAtlantic Mechanical were looking for a new coil line, space was a concern. The company only had about 3,600 square feet in its Millstone, New Jersey, sheet metal shop.
Long term, officials planned to move into a larger facility, but since a full coil line can represent an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the company wanted something that could meet its needs both now and in the future. The officials were not sure if this was possible.
That’s where Mike Bailey, the vice president of sales and new-product development at Mestek machinery was invited in. Bailey visited MidAtlantic’s operation and pointed out that Mestek’s Iowa Precision brand could design a custom machine that could fit in the existing space while offering the opportunity for future growth and functionality when MidAtlantic moved into a larger facility. And that was good enough for Vincent B. Spiezio III, president of MidAtlantic Mechanical, a 40-year-old, family-run business.
“We shoe-horned it in there,” Spiezio recalled.
The initial investment also included an Iowa Precision Combination Machine for straight duct production and a Cornermatic Plus for fitting production which also incorporated the EZ Connector dystem. According to Bailey and Mestek officials, the EZ Connector system alone can save up to 50 percent on installation labor cost while maintaining the strength and load test of conventional connector systems.
The EZ Connector system, uses a patented “bolt” along with a tear drop corner to make for easier assembly of duct connections. Unlike other systems that require extra tools and hardware, the EZ Connector system only requires a standard 12-volt cordless drill and specifically designed bolts.
The Iowa Precision and Engel brand HVAC coil lines now come standard with EZ Hanger pre-punching tooling. When utilizing the Mestek EZ Hanger system for hanging ductwork from T25A/B flanges the Iowa Precision and Engel Brand Coil Lines will pre punch the holes for secure fastening of ducts via the EZ Connector system.
Having the holes automatically pre-punched gives contractors the chance to save substantially on labor costs. Mestek officials state that reducing labor cost is one of the few areas where contractors still have some control. In a mature industry such as the sheet metal and HVAC industry, there are limited options that companies have to substantially save money and labor is the at the forefront of those opportunities.
“When it comes to material cost and labor cost it really comes down to labor cost as far as savings,” Bailey said. “When it comes down to material purchases a contractor can certainly buy in volume and pay their bills in a timely manner in hopes of acquiring a better cost. However in those situations a contractor may only be saving up to 3 to 4 percent. That’s really not enough sometimes.”
The EZ Hanger system, now a standard feature on all Iowa Precision and Engel coil lines, uses a patented “bolt” along with a tear drop corner connector and clenching holes to make for easier assembly of duct corners. Unlike other systems that require lots of extra tools or fasteners, the only tool it requires is a standard cordless drill and specially designed screws. The holes are automatically added to the ductwork while it is being fabricated on the coil line.
“The system eliminates labor and purchased accessories. The EZ Hanger systems affords the contractor the opportunity to eliminate the parts and pieces,” Bailey said. “If you utilize the EZ Connector system, then you have the opportunity to eliminate the drift pins and nuts.”
Alternative hanging products may require almost 12 touches to assemble the duct, adding time and the expense of labor.
“In most cases the contractor would have to use a drift pin to align the corners and ductwork and then install a bolt and nut to secure the connection.” Bailey said. “Per corner that creates three steps and it takes four corners to connect each piece of ductwork. With the EZ Connector, it’s just a cordless drill to properly align and secure the ductwork together via the EZ Connector bolt. “
The time- and moneysaving advantages of the system were quickly apparent to MidAtlantic “from Day One,” Spiezio said.
“Having the holes pre-punched into the TDC/F flanges eliminated a lot of work in the shop with guys having to screw different connectors on,” he said. “Out in the field, this system really, really sped up the installation process by having the ability to use the EZ Connector and Hanger system.”
Tim McNeff, MidAtlantic’s operations manager, agreed. Other methods required using wrenches, nuts and bolts and lining up holes. EZ Connector eliminates all those steps.
“It really changed the way we install and put together a lot of the ductwork,” he said. “It took a half-hour process and literally cut two-thirds right off of it. It took our shop to another level too, because of the speed with the EZ Connector we started to do a lot more prefabrication in the shop.
“The EZ Connector method is really where the speed comes in.”
Although it’s not required for installing duct made with the EZ Connector, another Mestek product, the EZ Hanger system, is designed to work in tandem with the company’s connector product. The EZ Hanger system is able to work with multiple hanging attachments — steel wires, steel straps. The system can it can hold up to 2,800 pounds up to 18-gauge-capacity ducts and install very quickly.
Bailey pointed out that the EZ Hanger was recently recognized by the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association and as an approved alternative addendum for HVAC duct hanging systems and feels like soon the EZ Connecor will be added to its list of alternate approved installation products as well.
“This is big news,” Bailey said, adding that he expects the EZ Connector will receive the same certification. “Everyone always wants to know, ‘What does SMACNA say?’”
At MidAtlantic Mechanical, the company was able to build a new 24,000-square-foot facility not far from its old location when it was ready, a few years after taking delivery of the custom coil line. Its Iowa Precision coil line was able to easily make the move to the larger facility, proving that Bailey was right.
“It changed the whole process, because I didn’t have to get another facility (prematurely) and we were able to keep that coil line in our old shop for 2 ½ years,” Spiezio said.