While the down housing market affects its customers, manufacturing equipment makers want to help them increase cost savings.

Eagle Metal Products' e65 VertiPress can manufacture roof and floor trusses with no adjustment required from the operator, the maker says, reducing manual labor. It works best when handling small, complex components that could tie up main production lines, the manufacturer says. Reduced manual labor, money-saving buying options, more flexibility, and faster production aim to give building component manufacturers more value in investments and more incentive to buy expensive technology.

Highmark Digital created technology that it claims reduces the need for highly skilled manual labor in the replacement-door industry, while making the replacement process more efficient. The One-Cut system uses an electronic pen and wire to create three-dimensional models of door frames. Machining equipment takes those images and changes new doors to fit existing jambs, even if jambs have warped.

The machinery also pre-drills lockset and hinge holes to align with placements. This all takes less than two minutes per door, and fitting takes less than five minutes, says Dave Winter, vice president of Highmark Digital.

Builders Automation Machinery, which makes equipment for pre-hung doors, also is working to improve machinery to reduce labor needs. A technology called linear actuation allows for more computerized adjustments.

Also, bilingual self-diagnostics lead workers straight to the problem if something malfunctions, eliminating the need for a machinery specialist. The company also improved its service that takes old equipment and upgrades it to today's technology.

"Twenty-five years ago, people weren't doing eight-foot doors," says Robert Mitvalsky, CEO of Builders Automation Machinery. "We take that old machine and adapt it to what the requirements are today."

Stiles Machinery has introduced a modular purchasing system for its wall and floor panel equipment that features computer numeric control programming, which lets computers control machines and reduces the amount of human interaction.

Component manufacturers can buy some machinery "at the basic level and get in for a lot lower dollar value," says Michael Miller, director of building automation for Stiles. "Those can be updated later to have the output ability of the higher levels of automation."

Eagle Metal Products has scaled-down and more flexible machinery, says Baird Quinsberry, vice president of marketing. A new roof and floor truss machine, the e65 VertiPress, does not require operators to make adjustments and works best with complex components.

A redesigned vertical panel saw from Colonial Saw saves space and adds flexibility. The Striebig Compact has aluminum fingers that move individually, and an improved digital measuring system for more accuracy, the maker says.

Speed and increased production are the improvements at MiTek and Triad/Ruvo Equipment. Triad's new Open Stringer Saw for stairs will cut up to four separate stringers at once. MiTek has combined two systems into one: an automated jigging system for trusses called MatchPoint Planx, and a laser imaging system called Virtek. In one command, the laser projects an image of the truss components and plates onto a table as Planx assembles the jig truss.

"The position and shape of the truss joints and connector plates are crystal clear for even the most inexperienced truss builders," the manufacturer states on its Web site.

– Victoria Markovitz