Editor’s note: The following consists of a conversation between MCS’ Gina Cali and McElroy Metal’s National Recover Manager, Charlie Smith.
Gina Cali: How can contractors work with metal manufacturers for timely deliveries?
Charlie Smith: There's a lot of things that go into this. And so the number one thing is your order's got to be complete. If your order's not complete, it's not going to get processed. So if you send half the order in with half the information, which happens about half the time, then the order gets kicked back because people are not going to enter an order that's not complete.
If you're ordering roof panels, you got to have the panel width, the gauge, the color, the pan condition, which is whether it's striated, or plank and pencil rib, or smooth or whatever. You got to have all that stuff about the panel and obviously all the lengths. If you're going to order trim from the factory, then, number one, just going to take more time for your order to get done.
But if you're going to order trim from the factory, then you need to have all the angles called out on every piece of trim, you need to have whether it's a open or closed hems, you need to have the dimensions of the trim. If you're going to have it made by the factory, you need to call all that stuff out so there's no question about it.
And you need to make sure you got the address straight, where it's being shipped to, or if you're going to pick it up, and you need to have your credit straight, because if your credit's not straight, your order's going nowhere. You need to make sure that you work with your sales rep to have your credit taken care of or you've got your payment terms squared away before the order goes in, because if you're doing it after the order goes in, that's just another way to delay your order.
Another thing is shop drawings and engineering add a considerable length of time to the order process. For us, you can do your own shop drawings as long as they show exactly what we want them to show. You don't have to buy shop drawings from us. You can do your own. A lot of people just do a simple roof plan and put standard details with it. That works. Our people are just looking for all the details. Engineering, I have a lot of people that do their own shop drawings and then just get an engineering package from us. We will not stamp somebody else's drawings, but you can get an engineering calc package onlyand that works in some cases. It doesn't work in all cases, I can direct you to another engineer if you like that as well. So shop drawings and engineering can add time to the order. So you want to make sure you get all the shop drawings and engineering done way before you need the roof panels.
The fact is you can't order the panels until you pull field measurements, but there's a lot of stuff you can do while you're waiting to pull field measurements that to make your order go faster. One of them is a shop drawings you make sure you get that done way ahead.
So as far as order entry, little things on order entry that can certainly help. If you've got a job with a lot of hips and valleys, and you've got one of those programs that kicks out every panel and every length, then now you've added 500 panels to your order because every panel is this is a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger, and so somebody's got to enter that order and put every one of those 500 panels in there. The reality is that you can order one panel length and order 250 panels, and then whatever you cut here, you use there. That works very good on symmetrical panels, it's a little bit harder to do on asymmetrical panels.
So you put your order panel order in, you want the panels ordered long to short because that's the way they're going to be run and that's the way they're going to be entered. They might as well be lined up already when you send in your order.. And then if you want to order by area, then you just added a bunch of time to getting your order done. It takes a long time to enter the order and then it takes a lot longer to fabricate the order because it's got to be packaged by area and you're going to have big packages, little packages, incomplete bundles, and it makes a big difference on how the truck is loaded. Then your loading time and maybe the number of trucks that you get increases if you want to order by area. That is o another thing that can delay the order.
Order standard colors, don't do special colors. You want to add a bunch of time to your order, order a special color. You need to talk to the architect, we don't need a special color. Standard colors go way faster. You can add four or five weeks to your order by ordering a special color. On a larger job you want to make sure your supplier is aware that this larger job is coming in well in advance, because not everybody's going to have all that coil in inventory painted and ready go for you.
So let's just say if a job is, let's say, 15,000 square feet or 10,000 square feet or bigger, we're probably going to paint for that job, and I think it's similar for other people. So that means that'd be nice if we knew that a month ahead of time or two months ahead of time that you were going to be placing this order and they can actually get this stuff coated up for you so that it's ready to go. It's a big deal.
We know it's 50,000 square feet, we know the panel width and how many flat sheets you're going to need, then you can get that coil ordered up and get it up ready to go so when you place your order it's ready to go. And the same thing with the accessories, if you need 40,000 clips on the job, that'd be nice to make sure they had 40,000 clips in inventory to cover your order. So the more lead time you give the manufacturer, the better off you are.
Another thing that we do sometimes to help guys out is if our lead time on production is way out, then we can ship coil to the job site instead, and then have us or someone that owns a McElroy roll former go out and run the panels for you. The cost is the same either way, except you might have to set up do a site forming fee, but it might save you three or four weeks on getting the panels run if we just ship coil directly to the job and then run the panels out there.
There's a shortage of truck drivers out there. The fact is one of the big issues that we see is the shortage of drivers and not too long ago, we had 60 loads of coil that was ready to ship out the coater. We use a Precoat in Jackson, Mississippi, they had 60 loads of coil that we couldn't get picked up just because that's how far out the trucking problem was. So there's a lot of issues out there. So the more information you give the manufacturer up front, the way better off you're going to be, and just make sure your order's complete when you do place your order. And that's all I got to say about that.
Charlie Smith is the National Recover Manager at McElroy Metal. See his full bio here.
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