GPI Corporation makes the cut

An MOC Success Story on Technology Scouting
A series of 17-foot diameter x 42-foot side sheet fiberglass tanks designed and manufactured by GPI Corporation.
April 30, 2015

Situation

GPI Corporation sought new technology to cut precise holes, 1 to 48 inches in diameter, in large complex tanks manufactured by the company. To cut through fiberglass walls up to 3 inches thick, the standard hand-operated methods were time-consuming and ergonomically challenging for GPI staff who complete approximately 1,000 of these cuts annually.

Solution

In early February 2015, University of Wisconsin-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center's (MOC) Technology Scouting team set out to identify portable cutting technologies that would reduce time and effort required to cut holes rapidly, accurately and safely. For two months, the team evaluated cutting technologies used by seven similar industries, as well as technologies used by thirteen additional industries with differing or custom fiberglass applications.

The MOC team presented nine viable options to GPI in April 2015, citing advantages and disadvantages of various cutting technologies examined. For each system, the team also identified expert providers and summarized discussions with them regarding GPI's specific needs. GPI now holds all research data in an electronic "MindMap" which organizes interview notes, research outcomes, contact information and project details in one convenient, accessible place.

GPI Corporation sought new technology to cut precise holes, 1" to 48" in diameter, in large complex tanks manufactured by the company.
Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites like those manufactured by GPI are lighter and stronger than steel, and also provide superior corrosion resistance.

Results

The MOC ultimately recommended a waterjet system with custom guidance fixture for speed, cost effectiveness, mobility, flexibility and cleanliness on the job site. The waterjet system is on GPI's list of capital improvements, and the company intends to implement this technology which will potentially:

  1. Reduce required cutting time by up to 92%
  2. Provide an economical solution within budget
  3. Enable a wider variety of cut sizes and shapes
  4. Improve work environment by reducing airborne dust and glass particulate
  5. Reduce strain on operators which correlates to fewer on-the-job injuries

 

UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center

We help manufacturers thrive through positive growth and sustainable profit.

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