Rob Gumlaw a rebar fabricator at Jefford-s Steel and Engineering Company loads rebar to be cut onto their new shear line and bar bending machine.

PLATTSBURGH -- Jeffords Steel has a new piece of equipment that has drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to cut precise lengths of steel rebar.

Jeffords Vice President and Chief Financial Officer James Favreau said the rebar shear line, which includes a bar bending machine, was purchased from Pennsylvania-based KRB Machinery Company about four weeks ago. It cost about $200,000, he said, and the 100-foot structure that houses it, including a 5-ton loading crane, cost about another $200,000.

"This investment allows us to remain competitive in this market," Favreau said.

Jeffords Steel Service Center Manager Don James said the machine is capable of fabricating about 30 tons of rebar a day, which could probably reach 40 tons a day if only straight pieces are produced. Previously, it took much more manpower to produce up to 8 tons a day, he said.

The shearer and bending unit are both computer numerically controlled, with different cuts and bends programmed. About 100 standard shapes are stored in the computer memory.

"We upgraded this equipment to accept downloads from our office," James said.

Favreau said Jeffords Steel buys rebar rods in lengths of 20, 40 and 60 feet.

The machine cuts those rods into custom lengths with an accuracy of 1/64th of an inch, which minimizes the amount of scrap generated.

Bundles of rebar rods are loaded into a hopper with the loading crane. The moving parts are either hydraulically or pneumatically powered.

The material is automatically loaded from the hopper onto a conveyor. It slides the rebar to the proper position for the pre-programmed cut length.

The shearer cuts multiple pieces of rebar in one action, from 23 pieces of 3/8th-inch diameter to two pieces of 1-3/4-inch diameter. The powerful machine then quickly slices through the pieces of rebar. The material then moves down the conveyor.

Rebar Fabricator Rob Gumlaw said the new machine is much more efficient, and is much quicker.

"It's a lot better than how we used to do it," he said.

Once the rod is cut, it is sent to the right if it is to be used as a straight piece. A number of discharge points are used to create bundles of rebar of the same length.

They go to the left to the bender if it requires further fabrication. James said the bender is similar to the previous unit, but can process multiple pieces instead of one at a time.

The new machine took a lot of manual labor out of the process, and led to a multi-fold increase in safety, Favreau said.

The increase in volume allowed the company to add jobs. James said Jeffords Steel has hired four people for its Steel Service Center because it can supply rebar to so many more jobs.

James said the main use for rebar is to reinforce concrete.

"If concrete breaks or cracks, this will reinforce it," he said.

Favreau said that when you think of all the buildings with reinforced concrete foundations in this area, that is a tremendous demand for rebar. Jeffords Steel recently secured another contract for a windmill project, and James said it takes more than 55,000 pounds of rebar for the foundation of each of the giant towers.

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