Sunday, February 17, 2019

Start in Sturgeon Blog


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The Nuts and Bolts that make up a Local Metal Fabricator

There is no doubt that the plunging oil prices have caused concerns among industries that are linked to the energy sector. Is it all doom and gloom as some would lead us to believe? My answer is an emphatic no. My perception from visiting firms linked to the energy sector indicates mixed impacts. Indeed, some companies have scaled back and put new plans for capital projects on hold while others are forging ahead and capitalizing on lower construction costs resulting from a more competitive labour market. Obviously, the metal fabrication sector will continue to thrive because existing industrial facilities will need to maintain and replace old machinery and parts.

I toured McSween Custom Fabricating's facility in Sturgeon Industrial Park a week ago and their mood spells optimism even in the midst of changes within the energy sector. McSween Custom Fabricating is an industrial fabrication and construction company that has been serving industrial plants in Alberta since 1980. The company was started as a family business by two brothers that were involved in the trades. It evolved through the years, expanding its client base after it was purchased by its current owner, Nelson Martin. McSweens expertise covers a broad range of industries, which include petrochemical, fertilizer, cement, mining, pharmaceutical and power generation. The company has two shops; a main shop with 28,000 square feet which is their custom fabrication shop with 15 employees. This shop is involved in fabricating vessels and custom forming, shearing and rolling. The second shop of 10 employees is a pipe products shop which is 12,000 square feet fabricates process pressure piping of any alloy.

McSween Fabricating also employs 18 people that are capable of providing project management services, engineering and design.  It also has a field maintenance division consisting of 70 people of various trades, pipe fitters, pressure welders, millwrights, boilermakers and iron workers that provide maintenance support to the industrial sector.

McSween has built a great reputation on high quality and flexibility when it comes to difficult projects. Inside one of the facilities, there were large pipes and vessels that were being worked on. I wondered how these giant, heavy pieces ever leave the shop. It turns out that the shops are equipped with multi five ton overhead cranes and the large overhead doors are designed for the finished pieces to exit the shop.

I also learned a couple of interesting facts about welding. When two pieces of metal are welded; scorching temperatures of around 5,500 degrees Celsius (9,900 degrees Fahrenheit are used). The sparks that result can be as hot as 1,300 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Fahrenheit) so needless to say, I was sure to stand clear! The finished pipes and vessels also undergo testing for strength and leaks. The test involves filling the vessel or pipe system with a liquid, usually water, which may be dyed to spot leaks more easily. Vessels are pressurized to a specified test pressure at which point, instruments measure pressure loss. The strength of a vessel is usually tested by measuring the deformities of the container. These tests are conducted in front of clients to ensure that their project is compliant with all stated specifications and standards.


I enjoyed my visit with McSween Custom Fabricating and I have new admiration for engineers that design and build stable and durable structures that keep Alberta’s economy humming. You can also learn more on how engineered technologies sustain our economy by visiting the Western Manufacturing Technology Show. This event will be hosted in Edmonton from June 15-17, 2015. The show is geared towards the needs of manufacturers in Alberta and throughout Western Canada in industries ranging from oil and gas, industrial and commercial machinery, construction, mining, agriculture, wind energy and aerospace.

The show will provide access to state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, educational sessions and networking opportunities. It is designed to be a one-stop, all-encompassing venue for the latest technologies and trends in machine tools, tooling and accessories, metal fabrication, design, automation and assembly, advanced manufacturing, plant maintenance and process control, so if you’re interested, visit the Edmonton EXPO Centre at the Northlands, Halls F, G & H, 7515-118 Avenue, Edmonton. Get more information from the event website at:

McSween Custom Fabricating, Welding, Erecting Ltd may is located at:
159-55202 SH825
Sturgeon Industrial Park
Sturgeon County, AB  T8L 5C1
Phone: 780 998 0600

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