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Leading Mechanical Contractor Cutting Copper Pipe and Costs Using Innovative Technology

Posted on Oct 3, 2017
Dynamic Systems Inc HVAC

You don’t become one of the top mechanical contractors in the nation accidentally, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Dynamic Systems, Inc. has forged its path by maintaining a strong focus on innovation and being able to supply quality products, quickly and accurately, through the use of state-of-the-art manufacturing technology.

Dynamic Systems, Inc. (DSI) was incorporated and founded in 1988 in Austin, Texas. Tremendous progress in the microelectronics manufacturing segment helped drive its initial growth. Today, DSI is a world-class mechanical and process construction firm supporting an array of industries including healthcare, education, hospitality, laboratory, commercial, life sciences, and semiconductor with offices across the nation. DSI’s slogan, “Going Above and Beyond,” speaks volumes about its ethos, and it’s no wonder that the organization has successfully reached its milestones of $1 billion of critical HVAC and plumbing systems work in healthcare facilities and $1 billion in higher education facilities.

DSI is a world-class leader in its field. Its products keep people and ideas safe around the country. Server rooms with vital intellectual property remain temperature regulated, the lungs of laboratory workers stay safe from inhaling toxic fumes and hazardous chemicals, offices and universities receive a constant supply of filtered air to breathe, and biopharmaceutical companies can operate to code with FDA approved hygienic piping. To Dynamic Systems, Inc. it's all in a day's work. 

3D Building Information Modeling

As a turn-key mechanical contractor, DSI, is involved in every aspect of the business from project management, virtual construction/BIM, fabrication, and installation of high purity piping systems, exhaust, HVAC, and sanitary plumbing. For this reason, every step of the process has to be mapped out from the beginning to the end, pipe by pipe.

Doug Smith, Virtual Design Manager, has been with DSI for a whopping 29 years. He is an expert in all things mechanical contracting and well versed in Building Information Modeling (BIM).

“We design and engineer everything using a 3D Program so you see building and all the mechanical components in it. Once the design is complete, we can extract that info down to the labor pool and different equipment we use to cut, fabricate, and install those systems. 3D modeling saves us and the customer, time and money.”

BIM Model

Doug’s work means that he interfaces with each individual piece of pipe DSI's processes in a massive network of complex HVAC systems the company has installed nationwide. Some of the buildings DSI has installed HVAC systems in are over 1 million square feet. That's a lot of copper piping, and Doug is at the forefront of the entire mechanical contracting process. His 3D program skills are impressive, but Doug's real talent lies in finding innovative technology and software solutions that increase quality and efficiency throughout the construction process, all while helping DSI’s bottom line.  

“We have grown every single year for 29 years straight,” explains Doug. To maintain growth and stay ahead of the competition Doug must ensure that his team is up to speed on technological developments available in the market place.

 

Software and Hardware for Mechanical Contractors

Last year, Doug took his team to visit GTP Services at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America trade show. GTP provides cutting-edge software and services to the construction industry, so its clients can better manage workflow and track job statuses.

“We help facilitate and bridge the gap within the construction workflow to help leverage companies’ BIM efforts. Our tools provide the ability to track the status of items through the life cycle of a project,” explains GTP President, Todd Liebbe. 

Todd was eager to show Doug and his foreman the TigerStop automated positioner in his booth. The TigerStop could easily attach to, and enhance, DSI’s existing copper cutting saw. It would replace the need to pull out a tape measure, mark parts, cut parts, and double-check the finished parts for accuracy.

“We placed an order for the TigerStop and as soon as we started using it we were amazed at the amount of throughput it gave us. We were even more amazed at the cost savings. The ability to cut material faster and with greater throughput, significantly decreased the amount of labor costs associated with cutting all of our copper piping,” says Doug.

Copper piping is now cut within a +/- .004" tolerance. “We have seen immeasurable labor savings. We are saving time because we no longer use a tape measure, we are saving significant dollars because we have decreased scrap waste,” says Doug.  

Scrap has also been reduced due to the TigerStop’s Dynamic Optimization nesting software. The software looks at a piece of copper pipe and determines from the cut list the best way to cut the piece to ensure the least scrap waste.  

“We had four cutting stations working full time to process copper pipe. That’s four operators and four saws. We are now getting the exact same throughput from those four stations on one cutting station with a TigerStop. The nesting software and scrap reduction has resulted in substantial savings which go directly to our bottom line” explains Doug.

cutting copper pipe on a TigerStop

 

Closing the Information Loop 

But Doug didn’t stop at the TigerStop. He spoke with Todd Liebbe and the folks at GTP to see if they could develop a custom program to close the information loop between his 3D modeling software and the TigerStop. The result, a brand new software called STRATUS.

“GTP wrote software to give us a direct connection to the TigerStop tool. Instead of just cutting a list, you can view its progress on the monitor and see the individual pipe change color as it progresses from start to completion,” explains Doug.  

GTP’s STRATUS was developed using TigerStop's open source software development kit and extends Autodesk’s BIM/Virtual Design Construction (VDC) capabilities from the office where jobs are 3D mapped, to the fab shop where copper pipe and other HVAC material is cut, and eventually to the jobsite where the HVAC systems are installed. GTP’s application, STRATUS, is on the Autodesk Forge platform and completely bridges the information gap. It tracks job information in a clear, visually pleasing way.

STRATUS software

STRATUS1.png

DSI uses STRATUS to sends cut lists from for copper pipe components directly to the TigerStop tool in the shop. The TigerStop then nests the list, cuts the part, and prints custom part labels for easy job sorting. Each step is tracked, information is relayed to STRATUS, and parts are color coded on the visual software.

GTP Services reports that, in general, implementing STRATUS and a TigerStop for cutting copper pipe reduces a single cut time of more than 1 minute down to about 5 seconds per cut. 

GTP agrees that Autodesk Forge is the right framework to build upon because AutoCAD, Fabrication, Revit, and DeWalt’s HangerWorks plug in, are the tools of choice for mechanical contractors.

 

Return on investment 

STRATUS, along with TigerStop hardware, has helped DSI bridge the information gap and complete projects faster and more accurately with less waste. The two are a dream team for all mechanical contractors who not only cut copper piping, but those who want to automate shearing and punching stations on ironworkers, speed up sheet metal fabrication, and process PVC, plastic, and cast iron.  

When asked about the TigerStop’s return on investment, Doug replied enthusiastically, “The scrap savings alone have offset the cost of the machine in such a short amount of time. The numbers speak volumes.”

And that’s just scrap savings, not the rest of the savings associated with utilizing a TigerStop, including reduced set up time, reduced labor costs, increased productivity, 100% accuracy, and increased material yield, which are adding dollars to DSI’s bottom line with each cut of the saw.   

TigerStop’s innovative add-on automation can be integrated with machines and processes mechanical contractor’s already have in place. Paired with GTP’s STRATUS software, mechanical contractor’s like GTP will be cutting not only copper, but costs as well.

 

To learn more about TigerStop’s solutions for mechanical contractors click the below button:

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