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A Tinners Porch
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  #11  
Old 05-10-2006, 05:28 PM
Shooter Shooter is offline
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please help
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  #12  
Old 05-11-2006, 02:29 PM
danski0224 danski0224 is offline
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Default Does The Past Help Show The Future?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pricer
While researching the history of the Tinsmith, I have come upon some information that has brought up a few questions and a few answers. The following quote makes me wonder about the future of our trade and where eventually it will go.



?By the 1860's newly developed companies were offering prefabricated and pre-cut parts which the tinsmith could purchase and assemble into whole items in his shop. While enabling the tinner to increase his production capacity dramatically, this process of prefabrication eventually led to the machine manufacturing of complete items by the late 19th century
Thus displaced from their traditional profession by the new machines, the tinsmiths turned their skills to the heating, plumbing and roofing trades of today.?


If machinery in the early 19th century forced the tinsmiths to turn their skills to the heating, plumbing and roofing trades, where will the machinery of today lead the trades as we know them? In the relatively short time I have been in the sheet metal trade I have seen many changes. With technology advancing everyday, in the future will there be machines that force our attentions to look for other avenues to apply our skills as did the tinners of the past?

In the future will there be machines and methods for fabricating and installing ductwork that will change the role of the modern day tinner? Take the Ductsox for an example, this modern duct system has no place for a skilled tinner. Will prefabrication change to role of all of the trades? Will the trades converge into one type of construction worker? A worker that does it all, one that installs all of the prefabricated parts required for building a structure. Will HVAC equipment manufactures evolve to the point that they have their own people install their equipment? Is this not already happening?



Will the trade go the other way and divide even further as did the blacksmith from which many of the metal trades eventually divided from? As time goes by and the evolution of new ideas, will the trade we have all helped to advance leave us behind or just change our role in it? The question is, ?Where are we all going? What is on the horizon for the modern day tinner?

Not all buildings can use the fabric ductwork. However, more architects and owners may try to find ways to use it to save labor costs.

OEM's already have their install capabilities.

More big projects have the building owner supplying all the equipment and/or sheet metal, while the mechanical contractor supplies the labor only. Some deals even make the mech contractor responsible for releasing the owner supplied materials on time and on schedule.

Some of this ductwork is ordered as drawn. If it fits as drawn, the job goes quickly. Sharp eyes catch mistakes early on. If the whole 3D drawing thing becomes commonplace, that will eliminate the need for "skilled" labor. That will be a huge change when it happens.

Scissors lifts and other equipment have made it possible to assemble much bigger pieces of duct on the ground and install it faster. Cordless drills make work faster. I can imagine dragging around a 3/8 drill and a 100' cord to do my job. All of those machines, and more, exist soley to boost the pounds of metal per hour, per man. I can imagine the relief when someone invented something as simple as the hex head sheet metal screw- replacing the pan head screw.

Everything is about money. The days of multi-year commercial projects are mostly over. Everyone wants it in 90 days (or sooner) from turning dirt to opening the doors. The construction companies take their crappy drawings and a bunch of guys and throw them on the job for a giant eff u fest. The field workers finish the engineering and coordination in real time and don't get paid for it.

Same goes in the production residential market. Slam it in.

Some shops use the time savings offered by a plasma layout machine to fab and install sheet metal as it should be. Others use it to hack faster.

I think it will be difficult to eliminate basic sheet metal work as it exists today.

Very few want to pay for the sheet metal work of yesterday.

I do not forsee a melding of the different crafts into one super worker. While I might be able to do electrical or carpentry, I am not efficient at those things. Someone else might be, though.

The worker you describe assembling and installing prefab building components is just a laborer. Probably low paid, at that. "Build by Number".

Not the same as "design-build"- which really means "build, then design".

I do see more specializtion within the sheet metal trade. Institutional installers, light commercial, industrial, custom residential, production residential, residential retrofit, commercial retrofit, IAQ, controls... on and on.

I also see diffent pay scales happening more than what exists now.

I think the biggest challenge is to keep the "skilled" part in front of the word "labor"- especially as hourly wages continue to go up (not fast enough, mind you).

It will be good when a skilled sheet metal worker can command the same rates as a lawyer or doctor. No reason why it shouldn't be that way.
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  #13  
Old 05-14-2006, 10:11 PM
rskindell rskindell is offline
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Half the problem with commanding a price that reflects your cost of doing business, i.e. shop time, and manual layout, is that the heating and cooling market is flooded with so many hacks doing inferior work for inferior prices. The sheet metal industry needs to band together, and make licensing for professional sheet metalworkers a much more harder, and more in depth process. In Michigan, you work under a contractor for 3 years, take an easy test, and then your free to hack up peoples houses, and install your very poorly designed system, grab your payment, and on to the next customer.

You would think that the bad reputation of these contractors would put them out of business, seeming that 4 out of 5 sheet metal companies fold in the first year. But by the time one goes out of business, theres a couple more in line to take there place. There just doesn't seem a way to compete with someone working out of there garage w/no overhead who doesn't care about quality. Not to say that every hard working sheet metal worker, trying to get there company up and going by working out of there own house doesn't care about quality.

The only way the sheet metal industry is going to stay alive and well, is by every tinknocker doing the utmost quality work that they can. Qaulity work is, and what always will be what keeps guy's like us from having to find new jobs.

Like Bud always posts

"If you make your job important it is quite likely to return the favor"
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  #14  
Old 05-15-2006, 09:16 AM
danski0224 danski0224 is offline
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There are some "reputable" shops out there that don't care about quality, either. An employee can only install as much quality as the boss/bid allows. There are some large hack outfits around here with nice offices and catchy slogans, but the work is brutal. Some of these places have been in business for a while.

Builders and developers put so much downward pressure on pricing so they continue to rake it in. If the HVAC company wants the work, their bid must be low enough to be chosen for the contract. Residential builders here are making companies resubmit bids every six months, and demanding a cheaper price. Unfortunately, the homeowners are the ones that get screwed. The builders don't care as long as it "works" and it holds together long enough for the "warranty". Then the homeowners can't justify ripping apart a home to do it right, so they live with it or move.

I know resi projects have been lost on $10 a house. Homeowners reject bids just as easily. There is such a huge difference between a hack installer and a qualified one, but the customers focus on the dollars and the presentation is a waste.

No one cares about brazing with nitrogen, micron gauges, duct design, load calcs.... until it is broken. Right now, your bid is $200 more than Hacksamongstus HVAC, and that is all that matters.

I have been on more than one commercial job where the drywaller and taper are following right behind me as the duct is put up. Of course, all the walls are in the way and the print was never approved, and there is a dumpster full of scrap metal from all the changes, but that's the way it goes. I have installed insulated duct before the roof was water tight to beat the framers (cuz there isn't any money in the bid to deal with wall openings). People wonder where the IAQ problems come from....

Certification might help, but just because the work is done by a "certified shop", that does not guarantee the finished product. SMACNA standards exist for duct design and fabrication now, and what shop follows them all the time (not just when it is convenient)?

If residential installers in California did a professional job in the first place (and I know that they did the job they were told to do by their bosses), then there wouldn't be laws on the books mandating air leakage tests when equipment is replaced so the customer gets the SEER rating they paid for. The builders demanded a hack job based on the bids they approved, the HVAC companies delivered a hack job and now the homeowner has to pay to fix that hack job to standards that should have been installed in the first place.

Some communities here require a Manual J and/or Manual D when the HVAC permit is issued. Why is that? Obviously, the HVAC industry is not capable of policing itself, so the towns create new laws.

I don't think installation practices will improve until building inspectors focus on the things that matter.
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  #15  
Old 05-15-2006, 10:00 PM
rskindell rskindell is offline
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I guess I just don't understand why the sheet metal industry has so many problems that other trades just don't seem to have. I don't see a ton of electrical hacks, or plumbing hacks. I'm not sure if it's because of the difficulty of sheet metal work, and the knowledge and skill it takes to perform a good job, or if something when way off track awhile ago.

It seems to me that w/electrical and plumbing the standards are set to a higher standard by the code authorities. I've haven't even heard of a required leak test for ductwork by state authorities until what's going on in California. Which is good. Yet I'm sure it's really going to take a bite out of good companies actually pulling permits.

Training is definitley a huge issue with our trade. It's not real hard to learn to sweat pipes together, or to pull wires and do a good stapling job, but making a quaity system in someones house, or commercial building just, I think, takes 10 times more talent. Maybe requiring a Journeymens card for a good wage will force many sheet metal workers to actually take their careers in their own hands and learn how to do the job they are supposed to be doing.

I don't know how many times I've heard guy's that have been in the trade for awhile brag about how they do all these fantastic things with metal, and they end up only knowing how to build a squared off transition, or build a plenum. I mean can you actually imagine a Journeymen electrician that can't wire a three way switch, or a plumber that doesn't know how to plumb a urinal. I just think that it's not real impressive that someone can actually perform skills that are required in the trade in which they are employed.

As for larger companies hacking up sheet metal..........I know i've worked for them. And for contractors pushing lower and lower prices on mechanical contractors, I think we all need to evaluate why we are even waking up in the morning and going to work. Personally I'm not working just to work....I'm working to make money, and set higher standards for every other company in my area. If more quality shops would actually realize by not dropping there prices to an average of 3% on a job. And instead selling quality, and the service instead of selling the price, then alot of better qualified shops would be doing a lot better.

Contractors don't like pissing off there customers with inferior work from inferior shops. People buy "whole houses from contractors". They don't think of "i'm employing all these different companies to put my house together, or my business together". There gonna get down these contractors throats when there house doesn't heat or cool. Contractors are just gonna have to get used to getting what they are paying for. And if they can't get over that, then they will just keep on having the same problems they are having now.

This is all assuming that mechanical contractors don't keep whoring themselves out for next to nothing.
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  #16  
Old 05-16-2006, 01:47 PM
danski0224 danski0224 is offline
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Around here, plumbers and sparkys must be licensed. Now, that doesn't mean that each individual performing the work must hold a license, but the employer must.

Training is important. Yes, in my opinion, a properly designed HVAC system takes more effort than a "standard" typical plumbing or electrical system. However, for the most part, the person installing the sheet metal probably isn't designing it on the fly. It happens, though.

I have met plenty of sheet metal workers that can do a good job, but the boss demands a fast job. Back to the time and money thing.

I think part of the original intent of this topic was sheet metal work from long ago compared to today. I do not know many people that have the skill to fabricate ornamental sheet metal work from the early part of the last century. I know fewer people that could afford to pay for that kind of work.

Today, a sheet metal worker is probably going to assemble store bought components into a duct system. That person might get pretty excited if they have to make a transition or some other fitting. Parts of the industry have become standardized to cut costs. Even though it works well, there is no way a residential HVAC contractor today will win a bid with a completely custom, all rectangular graduated duct system.

Cap and tap is the norm now. Less fittings and (usually) less time. Gotta reduce the duct? Well, just stab the smaller rectangular into the bigger and block off the hole with a flat endcap. Goes against everything I was trained to do as a Journeyman, but that's what the boss wants.

Someone will always do it for less. If a shop tries to market 10% margin work in a 3% area, someone is going out of business because the 3% guy is gonna be real busy. National home builders here already have their HVAC designs, and they know how long it takes to install the minimum system they have designed. In effect, they are dictating what the HVAC shop will make on their jobs.

Commercial jobs with owner supplied equipment/materials aren't any better. They know how many pounds of metal there are and how many man hours it will take to put the metal in the air.

In both instances, the mechanical contractor is reduced to a laborer.

Quote:
Contractors don't like pissing off there customers with inferior work from inferior shops. People buy "whole houses from contractors". They don't think of "i'm employing all these different companies to put my house together, or my business together". There gonna get down these contractors throats when there house doesn't heat or cool. Contractors are just gonna have to get used to getting what they are paying for. And if they can't get over that, then they will just keep on having the same problems they are having now.
People do not buy a home built from stuff, they are buying an emotion. They are also buying the catchy name and marketing campaign put forth by the builder. If the buyers cared about what was behind the drywall, they would look there. Based on what I see as "standards" in residential new construction, no one is looking where it matters.

Trouble is, almost any hacked residential system will work well enough to provide reasonable comfort. Consumers expect a temperature difference between floors, but it doesn't have to be that way. The hack work only has to last a year (or two, depending on the warranty). Anything else is a $ervice call.

Here is a site that shows just how much some builders care:

http://www.hobb.org/hobbv2/index.php...631&Itemid=358
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  #17  
Old 05-17-2006, 05:22 AM
marky marky is offline
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Have any of you guys/girls outthere moved onto plastic duct yet ,about 25 years ago when i actually did real work,i was working at the site of a nuclear power station,all the duct was the usual galvi exept for the battery rooms where the duct was plastic the hangers were all powder coated and the fastenings stainless with little rubber caps ,had to learn plastic welding and fabrication ,using hot air folders and rollers where hot air is passed through the blades /rollers to make it pliable .just wondered if this hab caught on and there were lots of plasic smiths out there. aw ra best Marky
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  #18  
Old 05-17-2006, 08:38 AM
danski0224 danski0224 is offline
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Seen it in corrosive environments, never worked with it. Plastic threaded rod and fiberglass Unistrut like hangers. Looks expensive.
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  #19  
Old 05-17-2006, 01:47 PM
alfieriordan alfieriordan is offline
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our company uses the plastic duct mostly round duct in clean rooms in

chemical plants. patterns are made from paper or light aluminium and

wrapped around the duct . then cut with a jig saw and then welded

together. it looks an ok finish, but give sheet metal any time.
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