Striving to be one of the premier fabricators in the southwestern United States, the company stresses commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. Their customers include large corporations that have rigorous quality control standards, and they expect a high level of quality from their vendors. This is especially true in oil industry fabrication, where inspectors often issue a non-conformance report for improper part identification for reasons including poor readability or incorrect ID.
Walkup Company, founded by William Walkup in 1944, conformed to their customers’ quality standards by using hand stamps to imprint part identification numbers for traceability of oil field related equipment and parts such as belt guards, brackets and covers.
To withstand environmental elements, a three-coat paint system is applied to the parts in order to protect against corrosion, creating a problem for the hand stamping process.
“We had to go over the marks twice so that they could be seen after the coating was applied,” explains Matt Walkup, Engineer. “Otherwise, the customer’s inspectors send it back to be re-marked.”
The typical marking application for Walkup is about 20 characters on each part. This includes human readable part numbers, as well as the occasional serialization projects where each part has a unique value.
Getting one digit wrong in a hand stamped serial number can greatly increase the labor involved. Between that and the extra labor involved in deepening a mark, Walkup experienced an increase in costs and started considering other options to increase efficiency.
The extra labor costs add up, but there was another huge factor leading Walkup Company to switch to a better marking solution: user safety.
“When it comes down to it, we know we’re going to get the product out the door for our customers, but at what cost? Marking by hand led to a number of injuries,” said Walkup. “One of our biggest goals is providing a safe working environment for our employees, so we knew we needed to fix this problem.”
In 2012, Walkup looked for a new marking system to replace the costly, inefficient, and unsafe hand stamp process. After receiving demonstrations of multiple products, they decided to go with the COUTH N-34 Series from MECCO.
This dot peen marking system is made specifically for deep marking applications. Using a heavy duty N-34 marking head, it is available in portable, integrated or combination configurations.
“The COUTH N-34 makes a great mark that’s quick, readable and deep. If they can’t read the mark out there in the field, it doesn’t do anyone any good,” said Walkup.
Switching to the COUTH dot peen marking system helped Walkup Company get each job done quicker so that the employee could move on to doing something else. The time savings have been dramatic.
“Marking 20 characters by hand on each part took a lot of time, but with the N-34, it’s five seconds,” explains Walkup.
They make use of the serialization feature on the T2 controller, allowing them to automatically increment for each part. This controller stands out to them for its user-friendliness and how easy it is to understand.
“It’s saved us so much in time and injuries,” said Walkup, thinking back to the major problem he wanted to overcome. “The N-34 is safer for workers, and this has saved us on medical bills.”
Walkup’s experience with the COUTH N-34 Series is enhanced by the customization done by MECCO. While he points to its reliability and the mark depth, Walkup said the versatility of the N-34 is an asset as well.
“Having the magnet part attachment is huge. It helps keep the machine set, even when we need to mark awkward places,” said Walkup. He also mentioned the N-34’s size as a reason that marking is still possible on awkward areas, noting: “another big advantage is the size of the marking head compared to others. It’s much more user-friendly. We wouldn’t be able to mark half of the things we do with the N-34 if we had to use a marking system as big as some of the others we’ve seen on the market.”
Beyond features of the product, Walkup mentions features of MECCO that have helped his company succeed.
“MECCO follows up to make sure we’re successful. Most companies don’t take the time. But MECCO takes the time to make sure it’s done right. The people are easy to deal with, and the quality of the machine is great. MECCO is just a great fit for us,” said Walkup.