Making space count for a fabricator

Tags: manufacturing

Moving into a spacious new facility is one thing. Putting all this added room to good use is another.

LDI Industries Inc. is a leading manufacturer of lubricating equipment and hydraulic components for both the OEM and MRO markets. The company specializes in fabricating hydraulic reservoirs, and the combination of these large components with its large volume of orders prompted LDI to recently move into a new 100,000-square-foot facility in Huntley, Ill. Yet despite this additional space, management knew they needed to be smart about how to use it.

“In our old facility,” said maintenance manager Bill Klus, “we sectioned off welding, cutting and grinding operations using weld screens, but we felt there was a better way to do this.”

If they had brought their old way of sectioning off floor space for each operator, the crew could spread out, but eventually the operation could be disorganized. The growth of the business and the new location meant that LDI could bring on more welders. But not properly coordinating the activities of this larger crew could be the onset of a management nightmare and waste the advantages of the new facility.

Shortly after moving in, Klus investigated ways to provide work cells for their fabrication employees, and came upon the idea of using curtain partitions, leading him to contact Goff’s Enterprises. After evaluating their needs at LDI, Goff’s – along with the assistance of its local dealer, West Side Industrial Supply – recommended sectioning off the production area into individual 400-square-foot work cells using weld curtains.

The cell set-up gives LDI management much better control over the workflow. Every step of the process and every worker have a designated area on the shop floor, as well as knowledge of where the part moves to in the next step in the process.

The welding curtains from Goff’s suspend from the ceiling on easy-to-position heavy-duty tracks, with the area ready to use in just hours.

“Both Goff and Westside gave us very useful advice on how to lay out the area,” said Klus.

The curtains are 22 feet high, enabling trapped welding gases to be removed through a system of blowers. Any sparks from grinding operations are kept in the cell area as well. The curtains drape slightly on the floor and have a chain-weighted bottom to prevent them from flapping open and leaving gaps at the floor from positive/negative pressures to effectively seal off the cell.

The curtains do the job of protecting employees as they stroll down the aisles formed between the work cells. Goff’s Weldview clear panels block harmful ultraviolet light and the harmful affects of weld flash. People passing by can see into the work cell, while light passes into the cell for better working conditions.

The clear curtain sections are attached to opaque top/bottom curtains made of 14-mil and 14-ounce vinyl. Both Weldview and top/bottom curtain panels are fire retardant. If the curtain is hit with weld splatter or suffer other damage, LDI can simply replace that curtain section.

“From our standpoint,” said Klus, “it’s the ease with which our employees and the work can pass in and out of the work cells is important to a productive environment.”

The curtains have toothed brass grommets placed one foot on center along the top for attachment to rollers on the 16-gauge galvanized steel track system. At floor level, the curtains attach to one another with two-inch industrial Velcro fasters. To enter the area, an operator simply spreads the curtains.

The welding curtains give LDI a high level of flexibility. While the 400-square-foot cell space accommodates most of LDI’s projects, they have the option of making an opening into an adjacent cell to handle larger parts.

The fabricating area is adjacent to the storage racks. The proximity to the raw materials and the ease of access into the weld cells also maximizes productivity for LDI.

Installing individual rooms in the fabricating area was probably the farthest thing on the minds of the management at LDI. Nevertheless, the welding curtains give this company all the advantages of walls to segregate their work cells, with greater flexibility, lower cost and total access into these areas.

To learn more about welding curtains, visit or call 800-234-0337.

Photo 1. The floor space between the cells formed by the Goff’s curtain walls provides easy access as the work flows through the process.

Photo 2. Rather than a facility with solid walls, the vinyl petitions slide open so personnel and material handing vehicles and quickly enter and leave the individual welding cells.

Photo 3. Suspended overhead, the curtain walls are attached to rollers that glide along a 16-gauge steel hardware track.


Photo 4. An overhead view shows some of the 20 welding cells formed by the curtain walls.

Photo 5. An overhead view of work happening in one of the welding cells.

Photo 6. Storage cells are placed near the welding cells.

Photo 7. A floor view of welding talking place in one of the welding cells.

Photo 8. Velcro strips attach the curtain wall sections and allow for easy access.

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