Buying a new portable rollforming machine is an expensive investment. Not only do you have to consider which machine, accessories, and payment options are best for you, you also have to consider this: Are you going to use modular power or fixed power? How do you know which one you should use?
Whether you’re a contractor or manufacturer deciding which power option is best for you or looking to upgrade your existing power supply, it’s important to fully understand what they do and how they can benefit or be a disadvantage to your machinery.
At New Tech Machinery (NTM), we’ve helped educate many contractors and manufacturers on how to utilize their portable rollforming equipment in the best way for their business and help them increase the efficiency of their portable rollformers.
In this article, we’ll explain:
- What is modular power
- What is fixed power
- Advantages and disadvantages of using both modular and fixed power options
What Is Modular Power?
Modular can be defined as “constructed with standardized units or dimensions for flexibility or variety in use.” In other words, completely separate parts are combined to form something whole. As trendhunter.com describes, modular products can also provide an upgrade to an existing system.
Modularity can sound like a complicated concept, but lots of things we use or see every day have some of these features. Common industries, environments, or products that can be modular include:
- Construction – permanent modular construction (i.e. apartments, education, retail, student housing) or relocatable buildings (i.e. construction site offices, medical clinics)
- Vehicles – hybrid cars, delivery robots
- Residential or office buildings – storage systems, sectional sofas, shelving units, cubicles
- Technology – computers, cellphones
Even portable rollforming machines can have modular power options. Modular power refers to a power supply that can switch from gas to electric or electric to gas.
Using modular power options in portable rollforming machinery allows for flexibility depending on your location (whether you’re using your machine inside a shop or at a job site), or based on your necessity (if you didn’t always have access to a specific power source).
At New Tech Machinery, we have a few machines that can use modular power options with our Quick-Change™ Power-Pack including:
- SSQ II™ MultiPro Roof Panel Machine
- SSH™ MultiPro Roof Panel Machine (currently discontinued)
- 5VC-5V CRIMP™ Roof Panel Machine
- BG7™ Box Gutter Machine
Advantages of Modular Power for Portable Rollforming Machines
Modular power is beneficial to use in portable rollforming machinery for various reasons. It doesn’t require extensive knowledge to use it, and it can help improve your efficiency.
Here are some of the ways modular power options are worth considering for portable rollforming machinery:
Easily transportable – No matter if you’re using your portable rollforming machine inside a shop or at job sites regularly, modular power is easy to transport and change based on how you’re using your machine. Having a flexible power supply that can change quickly from gas to electric, and vice-versa makes it easy to transport to various job sites or keep in a warehouse to produce chop-and-drop panels for customers.
Less equipment needed – Modular power options eliminate the need for ancillary power supplies that otherwise may be required with non-modular powered equipment, especially if you kept a rollforming machine inside a warehouse.
You don’t need generators to keep rollforming equipment running if the power went out or an extra supply of gasoline. They also take up less space than other types of power supplies. If a particular power option isn’t available, then going from electric to gas power or gas to electric takes as little as ten minutes.
Helps with resale value – Having a portable rollforming machine with modular power options can increase the machine’s resale value. Since most portable rollforming machines don’t have a modular power option, it makes modular machines more valuable for metal roofing or gutter contractors/manufacturers.
Versatility – Having modular power means you don’t need to buy separate portable rollforming machines for using in-plant or at a job site. You also don’t need to have any existing machines retrofitted for use in certain situations and locations.
Depending on how you use your machine, modular power is an excellent option to easily switch from gas to electric. It adds flexibility to your portable rollformer and allows you to operate it in almost any environment.
You can also consider which power options are more environmentally friendly in certain situations, and which ones will be safer to use. For example, if your machine is mostly sitting inside a shop, you probably don’t want to use only gas power since it emits lots of unhealthy fumes and is extremely loud. If your machine only runs on electricity, it might not be easily accessible at all job sites, and you don’t have to worry about towing a generator around with you.
Continuous work – Having a portable rollforming machine that can run on either electric or gas power provides you with the ability to continue work if one power supply should need service. You can simply switch to the other power supply as needed, and continue using your machine without losing a job.
Having the option to switch power supplies makes your portable rollforming machine that much more versatile, easy to use, and can help ensure continuous work for your metal roofing or gutter business.
Disadvantages of Modular Power for Portable Rollforming Machines
As great as modular power options sound, there are some cases where modular power might not be a consideration for your portable rollforming machinery. Some of the disadvantages of using modular power options include:
More expensive – Modular power, because it means having two different kinds of power supply, as well as the gas or electricity source needed to run the machine, is an extra investment. Not only are you buying the machine, but you are also purchasing a second power option. However, the benefits of having the choice between electric and gas outweigh the up-front cost.
Maintenance – Making sure your power supply is in top condition can help keep you up and running, but it also comes with its own set of costs and time spent on repairs.
While there are also maintenance issues with fixed power machines, gas engines typically have more maintenance that goes along with it (checking filters, changing oil, checking for fluid leaks, etc.) If you regularly inspect and take care of your power supply, you can catch any issues before it’s too late.
What Is Fixed Power?
The word “fixed” has various definitions, including:
- Not subject to change or fluctuation
- Securely placed or fastened
In the case of rollforming machinery, fixed power indicates that there is only one supply of power. That supply could be either electric or gas, but the main difference between fixed and modular power is that you can’t switch from using one to use another. The machine will only run on one type of power.
Portable rollforming machines that are typically kept inside a shop usually run on electric power only. Those portable rollformers used mainly for on-site work typically run on just gas power.
New Tech Machinery portable rollforming machines that run on fixed power (electric) include:
Advantages of Fixed Power for Portable Rollforming Machines
While it might not sound like fixed power options would be advantageous to use, there are some instances when this type of power is convenient and beneficial for your portable rollforming machinery.
Ease-of-use – One of the best things about using one single power source for your portable rollforming machine is that you don’t have to worry about switching power pack options. If a customer has no desire to have the flexibility of a second power option, they can forgo the additional costs and maintenance required of modular-powered machines.
Requires little effort – Fixed power, whether it’s using electric or gas, doesn’t require any extra effort of changing power supplies or making sure you have electricity or gas readily available to get through a job. You also don’t have to worry about other time-consuming errands that can take away from your job like getting gas or towing a generator if gas isn’t available at the site.
Disadvantages of Fixed Power for Portable Rollforming Machines
When would using a fixed power option be a bad idea? While fixed power can sound like it’s an excellent option for some portable rollforming machine owners, it might not be the best fit for everyone, especially those who want to get the most out of their machine.
Here are some of the reasons why fixed power isn’t always the best option:
Limitations and restrictions – There are constraints on running the machine on specific power sources inside a building. For instance, running your machine on electricity, and making sure that your rollforming machine can run if the power went out would require getting and storing a generator. You’d have to make sure you have enough space inside your building for this type of equipment.
If you wanted your machine to run solely on gas, you’d have to account for having gasoline readily available to you, the means for transporting it and storing it in your shop or work vehicle.
Weather and climate – Weather and climate also play a part in that some indoor conditions can be unhealthy and unsafe for fixed power options.
If you relied on using only a gas engine, you’d have to worry about the smell it causes while running your machine. There would need to be a significant amount of ventilation inside a building. Gas is also damaging to the environment, as it increases pollution. It also makes more noise than electricity.
Extreme or harsh weather conditions, like freezing temperatures, can also affect electric power supplies. An electric motor is less efficient in severe cold, so you’d have to make sure you start your machine ahead of time, so it has time for the fluids and components inside to warm up.
Little flexibility – There’s also little to no flexibility when it comes to what can power your portable rollformer. If you don’t have access to electricity and that’s the only power option for your machine, you’re out of a machine and work.
Making sure you use the right form of power for your portable rollforming machine can make all the difference in increasing your efficiency and allowing you to use your machine to its fullest extent. However, you want to make sure you are getting the right power option based on how you will use it, and not getting something you don’t need.
Take these questions into consideration before you decide on using modular or fixed power options for your portable rollforming machinery:
- How do you mainly use your portable rollformer? Is it mostly used in the field? Does it stay inside your shop?
- What are the weather and climate like around your area?
- Are there any restrictions or limitations that would keep you from having access to electricity and/or a gas power source?
At NTM, we understand how important it is for you to choose the best power option based on your needs and use-case scenario. We’re here to help you find the best power option for you, your business needs, and your bottom line, so contact us today.