Powering up the world
TRYSTAR has found its niche and the Holy Grail in manufacturing.
Sheet metal fabrication is relatively new for Rick Dahl, CEO of TRYSTAR Incorporated in Faribault, MN, but thanks to his vision and investment in people and technology, they are already fabricating state of the art products for their industry. To escape the seasonal variability of the retail fashion industry, Dahl switched careers in the mid-nineties and began selling electrical wire and industrial cables. “The business appealed to me because it was steady. I could establish customers and build,” he says. The Australian cable supplier Dahl represented eventually sold him its inventory and from there he built TRYSTAR into a leading supplier of electrical enclosures for temporary and portable power solutions worldwide
Although TRYSTAR has been manufacturing cables for nearly two decades, sheet metal fabrication came about just eight years ago when Dahl and his son first used a skill saw to build conductor cable boxes. “Our very early involvement in the temporary power industry led us to make product improvements because we saw the definite demand,” Dahl explains. Success with the skill saw ultimately led to the purchase of an old turret which sat dormant until TRYSTAR figured out how to use it. Just two years later it was running 24 hours a day.
As business matured, TRYSTAR’s fabricating equipment quickly became greatly undersized. “We had met the capabilities and life cycle of the old equipment while also growing our product lines and the physical size of our boxes. We had to invest,” explains Jim Koberg, Vice President of Factory Operations. At fourteen times the capacity, a TruPunch 5000 with SheetMaster seemed excessive but engineering presented a compelling argument. “They felt they had reached their ability to create new products with our old technology but that the TRUMPF machine would enable them to achieve the next level of creativity,” says Dahl. The new TruPunch 5000 gave voice and form to TRYSTAR’s talent in engineering and production who went to work adding louvers and knockouts, tapped holes, new-style venting, hinges and roller ribs for reinforcement. “All the elements other manufacturers were struggling to provide,” stresses Koberg. Now, just four years later, the TruPunch is already approaching its capacity running twenty hours each weekday and a shift on weekends.
Dahl’s philosophy is to invest in manufacturing technology ahead of customer demand. If a piece of equipment reaches more than 50% of capacity, he invests in new equipment, so when a customer needs quick turnaround TRYSTAR has the capacity to deliver. TRYSTAR’s goal is to always create value for its customers that competitors can’t emulate, and for Dahl, customization and speed to market are key factors. “If we can deliver quickly we know will earn business, but if we can do that while also offering a better product at a competitive price – well then we have achieved the Holy Grail in manufacturing,” says Dahl, who credits his TRUMPF equipment for helping to achieve just that. The evolution of TRYSTAR’s “spider panel”, a product used to split power from a generator into 120V lines, helps to illustrate his point. Applying the capabilities of the TruPunch 5000 and a TruBend 5170 press brake purchased in 2014, TRYSTAR redesigned the spider panel’s four piece assembly to a Swiss cross design. As Dahl explains, “With these precision technologies the seams met so closely that we no longer needed jigs. This allowed us to manufacture the part in fifteen minutes instead of an hour.” The press brake also proved to be a perfect match for large panels, deep wall boxes, angled or specialty bends found throughout TRYSTAR products.
The company then replaced its old wire feed robotic welder with a TruLaser Robot 5020 laser welding cell. “The old way was inaccurate, costly and only suitable for mild steel products,” explains Brian Amacher, Director of Purchasing and Sourcing. “We are now twenty times faster and achieving much higher quality.” Welding the spider panel part takes just three and a half minutes instead of an hour. “We use to produce eight spider panels in an eight hour shift. With our combined technologies, we make five hundred units in same time span using our TRUMPF technologies, and sales have grown along with our capabilities because of our speed to market,” asserts Dahl. “We build a higher quality, custom product with greater efficiency and deliver it within a day or two. Nobody can compete with that overseas.”
The quality is especially noticeable in products such as TRYSTAR’s small portable panels which are often moved and handled by a lot of people. “Much like a rental car, they tend to be poorly cared for but the laser produces a stronger and better weld which results in no cracking or fatigue even in tough environments,” says Koberg. It has also changed TRYSTAR’s mentality on how its products come together. “For many years we focused on eliminating welds but now we reverse that mindset. A simpler design might add part numbers but the weld is so perfect that we can avoid grinding,” Koberg explains. Since large and small runs are completed with equal efficiency, TRYSTAR can easily customize orders on the fly and still meet production requirements. “In the electrical world, everyone’s gear is a little different –from the style of connectors, the receptacles, inputs and outputs to whether the application requires an aluminum, mild steel or stainless steel box – and our customization is right down to corporate colors and branding,” asserts Amacher.
Delivering high quality, customized products with a quick turnaround is something TRYSTAR customers clearly appreciate. Its products can be found almost anywhere from supporting Aggreko in providing temporary power generation at large events like the Ryder Cup to delivering backup power generation for airlines, gas stations, banks and hospitals. Flood victims in Baton Rouge rely on TRYSTAR’s portal power solutions as do those recovering from natural disasters, such as wild fires, hurricanes and tornados. “These varied demands require the type of creativity, faster production and flexible delivery our TRUMPF machines enable us to achieve,” Amacher explains “and the consistent machine platforms and TruTops software help link these technologies together for the best results.”
According to Dahl, “We bought TRUMPF equipment because we felt our business was such that we could expand into it, but the hidden benefit was in purchasing only TRUMPF equipment was that we naturally achieved a seamless production line because the systems are designed to easily integrate and run together.” The latest machine technologies prove to be a morale booster as well. “Our entire staff takes great pride in operating the finest machinery in the world.”
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in summer 2016.