If you are considering entering the rebar fabrication market and are wondering what the best kit of equipment is best for you to get started, here are 8 things to consider.
It’s rare that you have a blank check to buy whatever equipment you think you might need. In most cases you have a budget. You should also have a good idea of the amount of rebar you will need in a typical month/year. By understanding your production requirements and budget, your Rebar Fabrication OEM should help you spec out the right kit of equipment to meet your needs and ROI.
Next to the kit of equipment, your facility may be the most important decision when considering rebar fabrication. Unless you are building a greenfield application, most startups look to rent or purchase an existing structure. Be sure there is sufficient power (for example, 480v 3 phase in the USA and 575v 3 phase in Canada). Make sure there is proper ingress and egress to get tractor trailers in and out easily. Make sure the ceiling height has plenty of clearance. You should have at least 20 ft to the bottom of your hook or forklift, depending on how long your stock bar is.
Straight rebar typically comes in 40 ft. (12m) or 60 ft. (18m) stock lengths from the mills. In most cases the longer stock length you can handle, the more efficient your rebar operation will be. When evaluating building spaces or planning for your facility build, be sure to leave plenty of space for stock storage, indoors if possible, and plenty of ceiling height to lift bundles to and from trailers.
The stock length you can handle may be dependent on if you are using an overhead crane or forklifts to move the rebar around. A 10 ton overhead crane with ether a spreader beam or two traveling bridges and hooks is the most efficient way to handle 60 ft. (18m) stock. A bundle of 60 ft. #3 (10mm) bar sags quite a bit and to handle that length you need to support it in two spots. If possible, you’d like 24’ from the bottom of your crane hook to give you plenty of clearance for moving material around.
If you go with a parallel bay layout you can get away with a 5 ton crane in the fabrication bay. See Figure 1.
If a forklift is your only option, 40ft. (12m) stock will be easier to move around. You should have a 10 ton truck that can lift the bundles high enough to load and unload trailers and your shearlines.
Depending on your building layout there are lots of ways to layout rebar equipment. Many fabricators believe the most efficient way is called a parallel bay layout. (Figure 1) The Stock is under one crane way and the fabrication in under a second parallel crane way. This configuration makes it easy to add on to, has shorter crane travel to unload and load trucks and there is no turning of the stock.
Straight through shops are good for longer shops with only one bay. (Figure 2)
Cross bays are effective to store lots of stock under roof. (Figure 3)
Of course, there are other variables to consider when laying out equipment, be sure to select an OEM with modular solutions to help you navigate the dynamics of your budget, space, and production requirements.
In many instances a startup may just need to be able to cut and bend smaller quantities of rebar or want to prove the market before investing more. In this case, more manual equipment like a standalone shear and a table bender would suffice. As the business grows and the production demands rise, more automated cutting lines and more automated bending equipment begin to make economic sense and have more attractive ROI.
Labor is of course a major issue as well. Many fabricators are having a hard time hiring in their markets and are turning to more automated solutions despite the added cost compared to more manual processes.
Rebar comes in two forms from the Mill, coiled and straight bar. The type and amount of work you are supporting may affect if you use coiled stock or straight stock only. Stirrup machines can reduce operator hours and automate the cut and bend process. But is a straight bar or coil machine best for you?
If you need to cut and bend #4 (12mm) stirrups all day long, coils may make sense. (Figure 4) Coiled stock can reduce scrap if you are running the same bar size all day long and not switching back and forth between bar diameters. However, change over and straightening the bar can reduce efficiency.
If you switch bar sizes throughout the day, a straight bar machine may be best. (Figure 5) There is no need to straighten the bar and the cost of entry for a straight bar machine is typically less. However, there may be more scrap as there is a remnant leftover.
Perhaps a combination machine that can run both coiled and straight stock is the answer. Your rebar fabrication OEM should help you determine the best machine based on your requirements.
Be sure to select an equipment manufacturer who has the tools and can assist you in planning your shop. They should have a complete line of rebar fabrication equipment to support your business from manual machines for startups to complete rebar fabrication plants and automated material handling solutions. Perhaps most importantly select an OEM with service tools and parts to support you long after the sale is made.
KRB offers the only complete line of Rebar Fabrication equipment produced in the United States. The company offers entry level products to complete rebar fabrication plants and automated material handling systems. They offer you the tools to envision your shop and they are experts in helping you decide what equipment would suit your budget and space.