By: Paul Rubio on November 21st, 2019
5 Problems When Using PunchLok II For Small Jobs and How To Solve Them
Do you have a small job, under 10,000 sq. ft., in which PLB-36, PLN-24, PLN-3, or 1.5PLB Punchlok II metal decking has been specified in the plans? Maybe you are trying to find out where to buy the metal decking or find a PunchLok II tool?
It is not a simple process to obtain the PunchLok II material or the PunchLok II tool for use on a small job. I am an iron worker who has installed both systems and there are just some things that you cannot learn from the manufacturer’s catalog. There are things that sound good on paper, but in reality, they just do not work out very well. This is the case with PunchLok II for use on small jobs.
The definition of a small metal decking job
A small job is defined as any metal decking project that is under 10,000 square feet. This is the amount of square footage in which the potential cost savings of PunchLok II are negated by the additional problems and labor cost. This system is really designed to be used on large jobs which would be defined as over 10,000 sq. ft. The setup time to get the Punchlok tool running and the hassle of obtaining a tool just does not make it practical on small jobs.
The top five problems that steel fabricators have with PunchLok II:
PunchLok II Tools Cannot Be Purchased
You cannot buy a PunchLok II tool. The tool is loaned out by the manufacturer. Unless you already have a relationship with the metal deck manufacturer you cannot deal with them directly and will have to buy the steel from a metal decking distributor. Then you have to do a lot of paperwork and write a check for a refundable $ 5,000 deposit. It is an enormous headache to go through all of this on a small project.
Shortage of PunchLok II Tools
There is more demand for these tools than supply. This is an ongoing problem that does not appear to be improving. If you have a large job it is unlikely that you will experience any delays waiting for a PunchLok tool to become available.
However, if you have a small project then you are last in line. There simply are not enough tools and the smaller the project the less of a likelihood that you will be granted use of the tool. If you have a small job your best chance is to use a metal deck distributor that has free PunchLok II loaner tools. This will often require purchasing the metal decking from the distributor.
Verco or Vulcraft will try to get you a tool quickly. However, you could experience a delay of 1-2 weeks while waiting for a tool to become available. If your job is 20 squares and they need it for a 500 square job you can guess where that tool will end up.
Additional Labor Cost
It takes a long time to set up an air compressor before you can begin attaching the side lap. Normally the process of getting the equipment to the roof, setting up the machine, and hauling it back to the vehicle takes longer than the actual time it takes to attach the side lap.
RFI’s and Changing Job Specifications
When you have a small PunchLok II job many times you cannot get the PunchLok II tool. You could have a PLB-36 job with a tight schedule and face long delays. The only solution is to submit an RFI and change to the button punch side lap. Change orders and RFI’s take time and cost money.
What are my options if I have a small Punchlok II job?
So, what do you do if you have a small job that has PunchLok II specified.
- Try and get the job changed from PunchLok II to button punch side lap. This may or may not be a possibility. It depends on the shear values and engineering. It will be up to the engineer to decide if this is OK. It requires an RFI (request for information) to be submitted to the engineer. Once that is done he will either approve button punch side lap in the appropriate gauge or deny the request.
- Have a plan ahead of time to get your hands on a PunchLok II tool. The best option is to call a metal deck distributor PRIOR to purchasing the material and ask them “ Do you have PunchLok II tools available for use? “. A metal deck distributor will NOT loan you a PunchLok II tool if you purchase the metal decking elsewhere. During this phone call, let them know the type of metal decking, size of the job, project location, and the schedule. If the job is under a few hundred square feet it may be too small to justify doing the paperwork.
How do I find a metal decking distributors that has PunchLok II material and loaner tools IN STOCK?
Since there is a shortage of PunchLok II tools there are not many metal decking distributors that will have PunchLok II tools in stock. When you are purchasing this type of material these are the questions that you should ask PRIOR to purchasing the metal decking. You need the answers to these questions in advance so you do not severely delay your job and face the possibility of liquidated damages.
- Do you supply the PunchLok II tool?
- Do you have PunchLok II tools in stock or do you need to wait for Verco or Vulcraft to provide one?
- How quickly can you get me a PunchLok II tool?
- How many days of PunchLok II tool usage including pick up and delivery am I allotted?
- Do you have PunchLok II material in stock?
- What is the lead time for PunchLok II metal deck?
The company that supplies the metal decking is typically responsible to supply the PunchLok tool also. That is why it is important to have a plan prior to purchasing the metal deck.
Other than the manufacturer of the product I know of only two companies that have BOTH PunchLok II steel decking and PunchLok tools in stock with immediate availability. Western Metal Deck in Ontario, California and Western States Decking, Inc. located in Phoenix, Arizona.
If you have a small job that requires PunchLok II metal decking, it will be difficult to find a tool to attach the side lap. If this happens, use the steps above to plan so that your job does not get delayed due to the lack of availability.
In addition, there are higher labor costs because it takes a long time to set up an air compressor. There is always an opportunity to submit an RFI and get the material changed to button punch side lap.
If you aren’t able to submit an RFI to change from using the PunchLok II metal decking, we can help.
About Paul Rubio
Paul Rubio is the Vice President and one of the owners of Western States Metal Roofing. He has been in the metal roofing industry for 25 years. WSMR is a manufacturer of metal roofing, wall panels, and metal siding. We have colors and finishes that nobody else has with nearly 100 different colors in stock. Our selection of color options and finishes is likely the largest in the industry.