Parsons Company invests into new technology to improve its custom metal fabrication manufacturing process.
By Kat Zeman, Knighthouse Media
When it comes to technology in custom metal fabrication manufacturing, Bob Parsons dedicates significant resources to ensure that his company has the most up-to-date fabrication equipment available on the market.
“We have a broad range of capabilities and the infrastructure to support it,” says Parsons, owner and president of Parsons Company. “From laser cutters to press brakes and robotic weld systems, our machines utilize the latest technology.”
Roanoke, Ill.-based Parsons Company is a privately held, veteran-owned business that specializes in full service custom metal fabrication, including precision machining, welding, assembly, kitting and painting (liquid and powder coating).
Taking full advantage of innovations in technology, Parsons Company has high-quality late-model machine tools in every department. That includes seven fiber-optic laser cutters, 13 precision CNC machine centers, 19 CNC press brakes, eight robotic weld cells and 54 manual pulse welders.
In order to validate the thousands of diverse part numbers it manufactures, the company’s quality department has nine coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) – including a new precision laser that can inspect parts up to 65 feet in diameter with an accuracy of +/- 0.0015 of an inch.
“This machine is one of the newest, latest and greatest,” Parsons says. “Accurately inspecting parts of that size used to require a large CMM facility that could cost millions of dollars.”
“But this portable machine can be moved anywhere and it performs the task at a fraction of the cost,” COO Kevin Trantina says. “That is something very few companies our size have in-house.”
Over the years, Parsons Company has made heavy investments into developing a wide range of in-house manufacturing capabilities to have more direct control of its quality and delivery performance.
One of these is the capability to utilize robotic welding for many lower-volume parts – ensuring quality and efficiency even when parts are produced infrequently.
“We are not like production shops that focus on high-volume items,” Parsons says. “We do a lot of highly complex lower-volume items and we have the skill level and the infrastructure to do that. Our customers have lots of options.”
Parsons Company, which fully embraces robotic technology, has a wide variety of robotic cell configurations enabling its customers to benefit from robots where they were previously not considered an option.
“We design and build fixtures and tooling so our robots can effectively produce the volumes required by our customers,” Parsons says. “In the past, you only saw robotic welders in high production plants.”
The company’s in-house tooling department designs and builds complex tools and fixtures for both welding and machining. Prototyping is also a core competency at Parsons making it easy for customers to participate on-site in the build process without costly and time-consuming travel to off-shore suppliers.
Parson Company’s customers range from large industry-leading OEMs to smaller tier II suppliers and mid-size companies with their own product lines. The company services diverse industries including construction, mining, forestry, agriculture, automotive and energy.
In order to meet the needs of its large-equipment OEMs, the company has developed the infrastructure required to build very large and heavy parts. For example, its overhead cranes can handle up to 20 tons, its forklifts can lift up to 26 tons, the company’s machining centers can handle parts weighing up to 30-plus tons and its press brakes are capable of 60 to 350 tons of bending force. Its powder coat paint line can put a quality finish on large heavy parts up to 400 pounds each.
Made in the U.S.A.
Bob Parsons has been supplying quality parts to Fortune 500 OEMs since 1971, when he and his wife Terri started the business together in Illinois.
From 1971 to 1985, Parsons Manufacturing Company designed, manufactured and marketed its own very successful line of grain handling equipment – in addition to its custom manufacturing business.
The company held patents on several innovative product designs that have since become a standard in the industry. In 1981, Parsons Manufacturing Company was acquired by Helm Resources/Inter Systems, a leader in the grain handling industry. Bob Parsons bought his business back in 1985, renaming it Parsons Company. Helm Resources/Inter Systems retained the grain handling product line while Parsons Company went fully into custom manufacturing.
Today, Parsons Company has a total of roughly 360,000 square feet of manufacturing space between its two Illinois facilities (Roanoke and Goodfield). The company is optimistic about the future and owns 40 acres of land adjacent to its Roanoke facility to support future growth.
“We have lots of room for expansion at both of our locations,” Parsons says.
Parsons Company continues to flourish as a custom manufacturer of metal fabrications ranging from small parts such as brackets, clamps and covers up to very large complex parts such as cabs, platforms, undercarriages, fuel tanks, dozer blades and motor grader frames.
It also specializes in lower-volume service parts, attachments, specialty parts and prototypes, and also competitively manufactures many higher-volume production parts with quantities into the thousands.
“In the last year, we have had a lot more customer traffic in our plant,” Parsons says. “As a result, our business is really growing.”