The Hidden Costs of Owning a Portable Rollforming Machine

Buying a portable rollforming machine
Rick Zand|December 11, 2023

For metal operations, purchasing a portable rollforming machine proves a significant investment, especially if you’re just starting out. New portable rollforming machine owners should know the hidden costs of owning a machine. These costs exceed the initial purchase price and can impact your operations’ profitability and efficiency. Plus, there are ways to eliminate or reduce some of the hidden costs.

In this article, we’ll look at what contributes to hidden costs for rollforming machine owners and find ways you can reduce long-term machine expenses. We’ll dive into:

  • Preventative maintenance 
  • Trailers
  • Insurance
  • Labor 
  • Training

New Tech Machinery (NTM) has produced portable rollformers for over 30 years. We continue to engineer cutting-edge technology to produce the highest-quality machines on the market. Our quality, together with support from our service team and the resources available in our Learning Center, will help you maximize your business’s earning potential

workers running a gutter machine.

Preventative Maintenance Costs: Keeping the Machine in Top Shape

Owning a portable rollforming machine means committing to its regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Key maintenance costs include:

  • Lubricants: Regular lubrication is essential for the smooth operation of equipment and to prevent wear and tear on machine parts.
  • Aging Parts Replacement: Over the years, machine parts will wear out and need replacement. This also depends on how well you take care of your machine. You’ll place undue wear on parts if you leave it out in the rain, don’t lubricate it properly, or neglect regular cleanings. 
  • Hydraulic Oil and Filter Replacement: These are crucial for machines with hydraulic systems and need at least an annual change.
  • Dies and Shear Blades: These components endure a lot of wear and require replacement over time. Also, make sure to lubricate your shear blade frequently, especially when in use. This will extend the life of the blade.
  • Oil and Filters for Gas Engines: If your machine is gas-powered, regular oil and filter changes are a must to keep the engine running efficiently.

These maintenance tasks, while essential, add up in terms of cost and should be factored into the overall budget for the machine. You should also consider how preventative maintenance can save you money in the long run. Keep a maintenance schedule to ensure your machine is receiving proper care.

Service members helping customers adjust a rollforming machine.

Maintenance should include:

  • Daily— Inspecting the machine, cleaning and lubricating shear blades and dies (every 30-50 cuts), lubricating arbor shaft and reels, and turning the fuel valve to the off position for machines with a gas motor.
  • Weekly—Lubricating chains and main drive gears, checking the tension of the main drive chains, checking for any leaks in machines using hydraulics or gas engines, and inspecting roller sets for damage.
  • Monthly—Lubricating and cleaning entry guide carriage, bead roller carriage shafts, the five acme shafts, and arbor nut, and cleaning drive rollers and forming rollers.
  • Yearly—Check hydraulic fluid levels, color, and condition. If needed, change the hydraulic fluid and filter. Inspect the entire machine for any damage, loose components, and wear on parts. Check the electrical system for loose connections, damage, or wear, and test your battery.

For a complete maintenance schedule and tips for safe operation, click here.

Have a different problem? Contact the NTM Service Department by phone or email for troubleshooting assistance

Trailer and Its Maintenance: The Costs of Mobility

The portability of NTM machines often necessitates a trailer, which brings its own set of costs:

  • Purchasing a Trailer: The initial cost of buying a trailer suitable for transporting the machine.
  • Registration and title fees: These are recurring costs associated with owning a trailer.
  • Maintaining brakes, bearings, and lubrication: Regular maintenance of the trailer is crucial to ensure safe and efficient transportation of your rollforming machine.

Insurance: Protecting Your Investment

Insurance is a critical, often overlooked aspect of owning such machinery. Insuring both the machine and the trailer protects your investment from unforeseen circumstances like accidents, theft, or damage. Insurance rates can vary according to your location, the value of the equipment, etc.

Labor Costs: The Price of Manpower

Operating a portable rollforming machine requires skilled labor. The costs include wages for operators and any additional staff required for transporting and setting up the machine. It should also include the cost of training, tools, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Machine operators forming a metal panel with an SSQ II MultiPro.

Training Costs: Ensuring Skilled Operation

Proper training is essential for anyone operating an NTM rollforming machine. This not only ensures efficiency and safety but also helps prevent damage caused by improper use. Training costs, therefore, should be considered as part of the investment. 

Without proper training, you risk losing valuable time and wasting coil. Plus, you may damage the machine by trying to make adjustments you haven’t been trained to perform. Investing in NTM training will save you money by teaching you proper rollforming operation, changing and adjusting profile tooling, and maintaining the machine.

Schedule your training well in advance to ensure it takes place when the machine arrives, or you pick it up from our facility. We recommend bringing any members of your crew who will be operating the machine. That way, the knowledge is spread out between crew members. Otherwise, you’re putting all of the machine knowledge with one person who may not always be available to oversee machine operations or train new employees. You want to develop machine expertise among your operators.

Transportation and Fuel Costs: Getting the Machine to the Site

The very advantage of portability brings its costs. These include:

  • Fuel Costs: If the machine is transported to various sites, the cost of fuel can be significant, especially for distant locations.
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Depreciation: The vehicle used for transportation will also incur maintenance costs and depreciate over time.
Front Range Seamless Gutters truck with gutter machine in the back.

Service Costs: When Your Machine Needs Professional Servicing

Many times, you can avoid service costs by using the resources available. If you’re having trouble, check your machine manual. You can also find valuable information on your machine, plus how-to articles and videos, in our Learning Center. However, don’t tinker with your machine if you’re unsure. Call our service department if you can’t solve your problem. 

If service is required, you’ll have a few options. You can schedule a time to bring your machine to our service facility in Aurora, Colorado, or to an NTM distributor that provides machine servicing. Another option is having one of our service members come to your location. Fees apply to all options unless covered by warranty. Contact our service department if you need to schedule machine service.

How Much Will I Spend in Hidden Costs?

There are too many variables to put a number on what you might spend. It depends on your machine, how often you use it, how well you care for it, the type of trailer you need, etc. The important thing is that you do what you can to reduce or eliminate costs by maintaining your machine and training your operators to avoid costly mistakes.

While a portable rollforming machine is a valuable asset for your metals business, it’s crucial to consider these hidden costs when budgeting for your operation. Being aware of hidden expenses will help you make an informed decision and plan your budget more effectively, ensuring the machine remains a profitable investment for years to come.

For information about our metal roof and wall panel machines or seamless gutter machines, contact us to speak to one of our account managers. 

Download the Steps to Safe Machine Operation Infographic!