Mechanical Inc. tackles heavy-duty challenges with knockout driver

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Mechanical Inc., a division of the Helm Group based in Freeport, Illinois, was founded in 1966 to handle the specialty piping and treatment needs of nuclear power plants. Over the years, Mechanical Inc. has become a major pipe fabricator, constructor and distributor. Due to the specialized nature of their work, installation technicians from Mechanical Inc. recognized the need for a knockout driver that could handle heavy duty projects with ease.

Executing various building projects often comes with a unique set of challenges that goes beyond the limits of traditional tools. To get jobs done on time, teams find solutions that can negatively impact productivity, work quality and even safety.

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“We ran into this challenge while building an expansion of Parkview Homes of Freeport, a local retirement community,” said Matt Huenefeld, vice president at Mechanical Inc. “The studs used on the project were structural in nature and our traditional knockout punch couldn’t begin to penetrate the heavier gauge metal.”

Huenefeld’s team was forced to develop a workaround solution because they lacked capable tools. However, doing so created additional potential problems.

“In order to make holes in the studs, we would use drills with hole saws or a plasma cutter. The quality of the holes were far less aesthetically pleasing when using the hole saw or plasma cutter. Ultimately, safety became a concern because the hole saw threw metal filings and the plasma cutter created various hazards associated with hot work.”

To increase the project’s safety, productivity, and quality, Huenefeld agreed to put the Greenlee Intelli-PUNCH™ Battery-Hydraulic Knockout Driver through its paces before the knockout driver was brought to market.

LS100X11SBSPHuenefeld worked with Dale Speggen, mechanical product manager for Greenlee Textron, to deliver on-site training for Mechanical Inc. workers. What Huenefeld didn’t know going into the test was the cost savings and improved safety that his workers would experience from the Intelli-PUNCH knockout driver.

“I’d worked with Dale from Greenlee before,” said Huenefeld. “He’s done previous on-site demonstrations for us, so I knew the quality was going to be high for both the demonstration and the tool itself.”

Greenlee engineered Intelli-PUNCH™ knockout driver to tackle the challenges that Huenefeld’s team and other contractors frequently battle. The powerful knockout driver delivers 11-tons of punching force with a maximum cycle time of eight-seconds. The smart design of Intelli-PUNCH™ knockout driver automatically retracts the driver once the punch is complete. A 360-degree rotating head allows workers to efficiently tackle hard to reach punches and is compatible with all other Greenlee knockouts. For Mechanical Inc., the proof of impact was immediate.

“The Intelli-PUNCH, without question, is the best answer to making penetrations in heavy-gauge steel studs on the market today,” said Huenefeld.

Huenefeld estimates the Greenlee knockout driver punched two minutes per hole, for 1,000 holes. Huenefeld explains, “That’s roughly $2,640 in labor costs saved on the job.”

Mechanical Inc. found a critical solution to the challenges they face on projects. Greenlee incorporated the team’s jobsite-tested feedback into Intelli-PUNCH driver’s final design for an even more durable, efficient tool.  “We would absolutely buy one or more of these tools for use on future projects,” remarked Huenefeld.

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