Building the Machine Tools that Build the World
Todd Cordes serves as the international sales manager for Peddinghaus Corporation, the leader in Structural Steel Fabrication Equipment. When Peddinghaus purchased an existing facility in Illinois from its native Germany in 1978, the firm expanded its manufacturing flexibility. However, the machine tool manufacturer used this facility to better serve the North American market. This was such as successful investment that the firm moved its corporate headquarters here in 1994.
Peddinghaus is a complete machine tool manufacturer which produces 95 percent of all mechanical parts for their machine products in-house. Cordes states, “We have an extensive in-house machine shop where we manufacture all of our own components and parts and fabricate all the pieces for everything we use in our equipment. We partner with top-rated companies in the industry whether it be hydraulics, controls, any type of electronics – we go to the top tier people for that.”
Peddinghaus’ Customer Service Department is staffed around the clock and seven days a week, 365 days a year. The firm uses the latest technologies to monitor customer machine operation on a live basis. Web cams are supplied with each machine for customer convenience when ordering parts and facilitating questions. But a friendly, guiding voice is only a phone call away.
“All software is developed in-house; Peddinghaus’ new Raptor software is completely 3D based; it is able to import from a number of software programs that are used throughout the industry. The entire software engineering department is located in Peddinghaus. Some competitors use third parties for their software, but we do not do that; everything is developed here hands-on.”
On all electronics, it is the intelligent software that keeps the world running. Structural steel fabrication requires cutting-edge technology for efficient machine operation. Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) are integrated into Raptor as well, allowing Peddinghaus customers to import, modify, inspect, create and export part programs for maximum efficiency and accuracy.
One concern for the modern era of automation is the lack of qualified labor, as many of today’s shop craftsmen will soon be retiring. However, structural steel fabrication technologies guided by Computer Numerical Controls (CNC) like those offered by Peddinghaus can aid in improving productivity, streamlining efficiency and increasing accuracy and revenue, with less labor costs.
With the right machine tool manufacturer, supported by the right software and the right customer service team, the transition from semi-manual to fully automated structural steel fabricating can be seamless. For instance, PeddiNews magazine celebrates one company, Levan Associates that experienced a “fifty percent reduction in labor and a twenty-five percent increase in productivity using Peddinghaus equipment.”
It was at a trade show that Levan first learned of Peddinghaus. Once the Levan team had researched exhaustively, they selected Peddinghaus over other competitive machine tool companies. A member of the Levan team is quoted as saying in PeddiNews: “I reviewed many different machines, and the build quality of the Peddinghaus machines is superior to any other on the market. We felt that their equipment was much stronger, and the backup service support is the best in the world.”
The builders of some of the most spectacular projects in the world could not do the work without Peddinghaus tools and software as Todd proudly explained. “The World Trade Center Number 3 tower that’s going up was fabricated using Peddinghaus equipment. The new Verizon Tower, a new multi-story building in Philadelphia, was produced on Peddinghaus equipment. A majority of the Atlanta Falcons’ and Minnesota Vikings’ new football stadiums were processed on our equipment as well,” he said.
“Our guiding principles are honesty and integrity. We will not oversell a product to a prospective customer, always ensuring that the machine choice best fits the customer’s application.” Peddinghaus machines are also modular, which means a customer can begin small, and add on to his Peddinghaus investment with additional equipment as his company grows.
The company ensures that its sales force has a comprehensive knowledge of what the equipment is capable so promises to customers are accurate. “If there is something that needs to be handled, whether it is a machine problem or a part problem, the goal is always to be there to support our customers. Our service department runs on the same concept; if a technician is needed, then that’s the direction we go. At Peddinghaus, our customers are business partners; if they are successful, we will be successful.”
How a company relates to its customers is obviously the most crucial, but how it relates to its vendors and suppliers is a close second. “The vendor relationship is critical for us. We’ve had the same vendors for a number of years, and utilize their expertise in machine design and operation. Our vendors support us, and assist us in our quest for complete customer satisfaction. They work with us on rush orders, costing and pricing, and we work cooperatively on new products and technologies which works to our mutual benefit.
Keeping its staff on the cutting edge of steel technology requires constant and never ending improvement. Peddinghaus has continual training and assists employees in furthering their education. This can be in graduate or post-graduate work at the university level. For example, some employees have a bachelor’s degree; Peddinghaus assists them in attaining a Master’s degree, which helps the company and the employee. The company’s standard of excellence is set high by CEO Carl G. (Anton) Peddinghaus, who credits his employees for the company’s success and position in the marketplace.
Nearly every business in the world now is using the Internet and social media for marketing and Peddinghaus is no exception. According to Cordes, “We have online ordering capabilities; we have e-mailers that are sent on a continuing basis, and we have a quarterly magazine online that highlights our customers as well as our company. For social media, we use Facebook and Twitter consistently within our marketing department. We use those platforms to announce various product information as well as to encourage our customers to submit different fabrication projects of which they are especially proud (like stadiums and buildings). This allows us to promote our customers as well by featuring the Peddinghaus products being used on the job.”
Operating in a globalized market, Peddinghaus must weather the slings and arrows of economic cycles just like every other company. Resiliency is important for an international manufacturer, and Peddinghaus understands the challenge.
“The good news for the steel business is the need for infrastructure investment will drive our industry for a number of years. For instance, bridges and buildings will need to be upgraded across the globe now. Expansion of airports, seaports and similar projects should take us into the next ten or even twenty years.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers gives current U.S. infrastructure a D+ and speculates it would cost $3.6 trillion to fix it by 2020. In our era of cheap borrowing with low or even negative interest rates, the Economic Policy Institute forecasts investing $18 billion in roads, bridges and waterways could deliver a $29 billion increase in GDP and more than 200,000 jobs in the first year alone, although the construction industry is thriving already without any new investment.
For over a hundred years, Peddinghaus has made the machine tools that have powered the fabrication of our global infrastructure. As we enter a new world of increasing automation and productivity, Peddinghaus is uniquely positioned to grow even more in market share by creating and supporting not only the machines but also the software that operates them.