H&H Metals
It’s hard to find a job in the Denver area completed during the last 40 years in which H&H Metals wasn’t involved.
Easing stress
By moving a process in house, fabricator relieves supply crunch and achieves quality and delivery aims
By Denis Weinfurtner, ARKU Inc.

usinesses like Apple, Google, Harley-Davidson and Disney have one thing in common: they all started out in a garage. H&H Metals is a suitable addition to the list. James and Kathy Huff founded the company in the early 1980s, using their house as its first headquarters. H&H is known for assemblies that embellish glazing systems, roofs, trade show booths and movie sets alike.

Although Thornton, Colorado-based H&H hasn’t become a household name yet, it’s nevertheless an expert with construction projects. It’s hard to find a job in the Denver area completed during the last 40 years in which H&H wasn’t involved.

The company needed a leveler to produce flat parts for a variety of end products
The company needed a leveler to produce flat parts for a variety of end products.
H&H’s expertise is rooted in metal roofing, and creating custom sheet metal trim was among the first construction services the young entrepreneurs offered. At that time, their son Chad was young. He now works as vice president. “My way into the company was paved from an early age,” Chad Huff says.
Over time, H&H Metals moved out of the family home into industrial space and the focus shifted from construction to manufacturing. The company upgraded its equipment with machines such as a hydraulic shear and a press brake. Its product portfolio expanded from roofing and trim to products such as aluminum sunshades, BrightShelf light shelves and custom fabrications.

H&H Metals’ current facility spans 78,000 square feet and employs 20 people. With machines like a CNC router, multiple press brakes, shears and laser cutting capabilities, H&H was called upon, a few years ago, to manufacture assemblies for one of the “Fast and Furious” films and “Hawaii Five-O.”

The technical data associated with ARKU’s FlatMaster 55 matched H&H Metals’ requirements
The technical data associated with ARKU’s FlatMaster 55 matched H&H Metals’ requirements. Being told the machine could be delivered on short notice clinched the sale.

Keeping promises

H&H Metals has built its reputation by delivering the best possible quality on time. “This makes for more durable customer relations than any advertisement could do,” Chad Huff says. In fact, many long-term customers usually don’t ask for quotes anymore. “They know that they can trust us, in terms of both quality and costs.” This is the standard that H&H has been working hard to establish for 40 years and one that sets the benchmark for the future.

Just two years ago, the Huffs were in danger of failing to deliver on their promise. For many years, they had been sourcing raw materials from nearby suppliers. Those sheets came pre-leveled and of grade A quality, which means they were ready for processing. But these suppliers started struggling to keep up due to material shortages. Soon, the company was scrambling because no other suitable suppliers could be found nearby.

This tipped the scale for H&H Metals, which was already dealing with downstream processing issues: the sheet metal would frequently deform after cutting on the router or laser machine due to inner stress.

High scrap and reject rates had been an issue for quite a while. Expanding in-house capabilities was inevitable.
Counteracting shortages
Chad Huff started searching for leveling machines online. He knew exactly what technology he was looking for: it had to be suited for an array of metal parts and sheets between 0.02 and 0.6 inches thick, such as the aluminum sunshades that H&H manufactures. It was also essential that the machine level the materials while also removing inner stress. When he came across ARKU’s FlatMaster 55, the technical data matched his requirements. Being told that the machine could be delivered on short notice, that clinched the sale.

Our customers always ask for speedy service, and we are happy that we can serve them even better now.

chad huff, h&H metals
“We needed a quick and viable solution, and the machine inspired confidence. It made us more than happy that ARKU could help us,” Huff recalls. Once the ink was dry, it took three months for H&H to get the machine up and running. Since the leveler arrived, Huff says it has provided returns in several ways.

For one, it has substantially reduced H&H’s purchasing costs. The company can now purchase unleveled metal of grade B or C quality from a handful of different suppliers in its region. Being less dependent on a single supplier means more purchasing power and better lead times.

The leveler has improved downstream processes, as well. Because the FlatMaster removes all tension from the metal, Huff can be sure that parts stay in shape after subsequent cutting and welding. And unlike in the past, deformed parts and broken laser cutting heads from curling sheets no longer cause machine downtimes due to crashes.

“The FlatMaster really accelerates our processes, as lengthy rework is avoided,” Huff says. “Our customers always ask for speedy service, and we are happy that we can serve them even better now.”

Besides being an workhorse leveler, the ARKU FlatMaster helps H&H Metals unlock the full potential of its other processing equipment. For example, H&H has long used a collaborative robot (cobot) to automate welding tasks. But until recently, the cobot could be used only occasionally with parts that perfectly met the required parameters; any deviation would make manual welding necessary.

One of the strengths of the FlatMaster is its precision and reliability. As Huff explains: “The required parameters can easily be entered via a touchscreen HMI, and we can trust the final results.” Now, the company is seeing greater productivity out of the automated welding system.

Contract leveling

Delivering satisfactory results is one side of the coin; getting there is the other. Huff says integrating the FlatMaster 55 into the shop floor went as smoothly as the metal sheets gliding through its rollers.

Operators were given an operational training from one of the ARKU service technicians. Expertise simply comes with practice. The operators at H&H have become quite fond of the FlatMaster, according to Huff.

The FlatMaster’s proficiency even inspired the owners to open a new line of business. Huff noticed that the regular jobs didn’t keep the leveler busy all the time.. So H&H began offering leveling as a toll processing service for other metal parts manufacturers. The idea proved its value immediately: “When we started telling people that we offered a leveling service, the concept took off right away.”

ARKU Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, 513/985-0500, arku.com.

H&H Metals, Thornton, Colorado, 303/429-4847, h-hmetals.com.