Made in Eastern Iowa: Breaking down aluminum in Indepedence

By  | 

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG) The work inside Pries Enterprises is extremely precise and it's not an easy calling.

Pries Enterprises, in Independence, specializes in aluminum extrusion -- taking the raw material and turning and twisting it into a finished product.

"Aluminum extrusion is a process where you take a solid piece of aluminum and we press it through a steel dye that will generate multiple shapes to do manufacturing, from windows and doors to trailers and buildings, construction parts," said Jason Joyce, the operations manager at Pries.

Pries Enterprises, on the southern edge of Independence, works in three shifts, five days a week, sometimes six days depending on demand. Anyone can find their products all over plenty of different industries -- ag, electrical, commercial, housing. This is custom work, so design and relationships are paramount.

"Typically, you're trying to get as efficient as you can to be competitive in the market," said Joyce. "We invest in a lot of equipment from all over the world to make us better, faster and produce better quality with a safer workplace."

Here is a start-to-finish glance at how the process works. The sheets come in. Thick and heavy rods

This isn't just cutting and trim. It's also heating and stretching the raw material to extract and extrude every usable pound - and ounce - on aluminum within the raw material.

Ron Gish, who heads up continuous process improvement at Pries, talked about optimal staffing for one of the most critical points in production.

"The stretching portions, we do that with one person where we used to do it with two," said Gish. "Now it's more consistent with one. It makes our quality more consistent and the output off the machines is more consistent. Not so depending on factors like human fatigue and the machines are more repetitive for a person working in the heat for eight to twelve hours a day."

Now a look towards the end of the line for this work -- as we see the final form of each piece as final assembly and packagaing are ahead.

"I've been in this business for over 20 years and it's very interesting with the technology and the people," said Joyce.