Bright Sheet Metal beta-testing software, providing feedback

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Technology plays a key role in many career fields, and the sheet metal industry is no different. Although the faces of the industry are the men and women on the front lines, the test of true technology is behind the scenes with the savvy technicians who create the custom components needed to do every job. To do this, trained workers operate the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) cutting table with high-end software.

Bright Sheet Metal in Indianapolis is one of the largest union sheet metal shops in the United States with 12 detailers working full time to create the custom parts needed for the company’s clients. Among others, Bright Sheet Metal provided the sheet metal for its signature client, Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL football team.

When working on a large project such as a stadium, one software glitch can mean hours of productivity lost. For the last four years, Bright Sheet Metal has been part of a hand-selected team beta-testing the fabrication module of the International Training Institute’s (ITI) Building Information Modeling (BIM) training software. When software updates are released, Bright Sheet Metal is on a short list to receive them first.

Because of the company’s size – and the size of its jobs – it uses a 20-foot table instead of the standard 10-foot table, which automatically makes it a different kind of testing partner for ITI. When Bright Sheet Metal received the new BIM training software, they needed to replace their Lockformer plasma cutting table with a larger Dynatorch model.  

Updating equipment is standard operating procedure, but glitches with the software became an issue when the table settings weren’t correct, said Rance Pearson, a detailer with Bright Sheet Metal. Responding quickly, representatives from Dynatorch and ITI flew to Indianapolis to recalibrate the settings.

Once the Dynatorch’s settings were made compatible with the BIM training software, Jim Meyers, vice president of Bright Sheet Metal, was impressed.

“The Dynatorch works faster than Lockformer ever did,” he said.

As the testing continues, the process becomes more fluid.

“ITI understands that anytime something isn’t working, it’s costing money,” Pearson said. “They work hard to keep contractors happy. They turned around a lot of bugs and issues in a short amount of time.”

In September, a problem in the software update shut Pearson’s work down for 30 minutes, but representatives sent the old version to keep him working until they could rush the amended version to him a couple hours later.

“I don’t think I’d get that kind of service if I called Microsoft,” Pearson joked.  “It took a few hours and everything was good.”

The amount of development and change in the last four years of testing astounds Pearson, who credits ITI with a consistent level of improvement.

“It’s amazing how far the testing program has come,” Pearson said. “They’ve done a great job of acting on our comments and complaints. It’s moving forward and progressing quite nicely.”

ITI’s BIM training software is available at no charge to any union contractor utilizing certified ITI detailers. BIM drafting and fabrication classes have already begun in Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Albuquerque and Los Angeles. For additional information on those as well as other training opportunities, contact ITI at 703-739-7200.

The International Training Institute (best known as ITI) is jointly sponsored by Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). ITI offers apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout the United States and Canada. Located in Alexandria, Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free-of-charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

For more information about the International Training Institute, visit or call 703-739-7200.