ACASS systems

Setting the Stage for the Future, Today

Stage design manufacturer ACASS Systems partners with Alexandria Industries to improve stage truss system durability and speed set-up time

We arrive at the concert arena. We find our seats. The anticipation grows. The lights dim and the arena fills with a deafening roar of voices. Music begins to ring in. We have waited months to see our favorite band.

From the Rolling Stones to One Republic, in the music industry, stars perform at a variety of venues. From a roving Mick Jagger to the tightly choreographed dance moves of Beyoncé, a safe and secure stage set is a must have for performers.

An innovative stage design company is helping to ensure safety while pushing the limits of speeding stage set-up time and customization. ACASS Systems brings concert production dreams to reality. The company designs their staging products from the start to finish with the ability to custom-fit the performance needs uniquely for each venue.

Time is money in the entertainment industry. ACASS, like the performers it serves, relies on close relationships with vendors to ensure efficiencies and excellent workmanship to keep design and production deadlines on track. With an average start-to-finish build time of six weeks or less, ACASS relies on its network of suppliers to deliver high quality products on time.

ACASS customers not only expect the best quality and want their specific needs to be met quickly, they must have staging component design systems that meet strict safety requirements that protect the performers, stagehands and fans, alike.

Challenge
In the entertainment business, it is crucial to meet deadlines. The performers rely on a tour designer and a large crew to set up the stage. Aluminum truss systems are used to hold large video screens made from an intricate combination of LED lighting systems. The stagehands building the sets require durable and easy-to-assemble truss systems to do their job as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Like the tour designer counts on the stagehands to erect the truss systems, ACASS depends on suppliers to manufacture and ship the aluminum components in the most efficient way. Every deadline missed can cost millions of dollars.

When tour designers need staging systems at the last minute, it can be extremely difficult for companies like ACASS to provide custom framing solutions without the right suppliers. Many component suppliers, in fact, simply do not have the capacity to create large volumes of accurately made aluminum extruded staging components in a short timeframe. Add to this, specialized packaging needs also can contribute to supplier delays, depending on the order volume and the time it takes to manufacture the components.

Accuracy and speed are key in manufacturing the custom staging equipment. If components are not manufactured to specification, they either have to be modified on site, which could cause a safety issue, or remade, which costs time and money and provides no guarantee that new parts will arrive on time. ACASS needed to work with suppliers that are trusted to make its staging system components right the first time.

Solution
ACASS needed a supplier who could deliver quality product in a timely manner, while also being able to adapt to the customized needs of each arena stage and the extremely short lead times.

For one of its biggest projects, ACASS needed eight different extrusion profiles, two steel components and six different plastic pieces to make the interlocking framing system for a 40 by 60-foot LED video screen for a well-known country music star’s concert. The company contacted Alexandria Industries.

An interlocking aluminum framing systems for a 40 by 60-foot LED video screen.

Located in Alexandria, Minn., Alexandria Industries provides an array of manufacturing services including aluminum extrusion, precision machining and plastic injection molding that fit the specific needs of ACASS well.

Alexandria Industries’ engineering experts and designers at ACASS Systems discussed the original CAD designs and decided on slight changes to improve on the original. One of these included switching the aluminum alloy from 6061 to 6005A for truss system extrusions. The 6005A alloy offers ease of extrudability while maintaining design tolerances. Once ACASS signed off on the final designs, Alexandria Industries was able to manufacture the 700-component order – turning aluminum billets into precisely extruded components – in a matter of days versus weeks or months it would normally take another supplier.

ACASS CEO Aaron Cass said, “When we connected with Alexandria Industries, the manufacturer’s sales representative personally took the time to travel to our facility to truly understand our company and how we operate. Alexandria Industries was not just looking to make a quick sale. The company’s priority was focused on building a long-term relationship with us.”

Cass was also impressed with Alexandria Industries testing standards, quality, overall cost reduction strategies and delivery time. More importantly, he was most pleased with the honest and open communication. From engineering design assistance to estimating, Alexandria Industries shared upfront potential problems in the proposed design, while helping to create solutions that would result in the best fit for his product needs.

Leveraging Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) principles – a strategy to reduce lead-time throughout the organization – Alexandria Industries has the ability to make products quickly while suggesting value-added services that help make the products easy to machine and assemble.

Result
Cass stated, “Quality of service and honest answers are the two most important things in my business and Alexandria Industries has those qualities.” ACASS has not had any problems since switching suppliers. Cass believes that if a problem arises, Alexandria Industries will address the issue immediately and with the utmost care.

ACASS has been able to get the impossible done with Alexandria Industries. The supplier’s engineering assistance made the aluminum extrusion component designing process easy with quick response times, and the products were completed a week ahead of expectation, during the crazy-busy Christmas holiday season.

Because of ACASS’ newly designed unique interlocking truss systems and suppliers that are committed to their customers’ success, stagehands can reduce set-up time by more than 50 percent – from four or five hours to two hours – for their LED video screen staging systems.

Alexandria Industries worked closely with ACASS to manufacture the interlocking truss systems' individual components using the 6005A grade aluminum alloy because of its ease of extrudability, while maintaining the required tight design tolerances, so the components fit together with exact precision

ACASS does not have to worry about ordering large quantities or dealing with quality issues anymore. With Alexandria Industries, the company knows every piece will be consistently manufactured to specification.

“The minute you cut corners, you won’t get ahead,” Cass said. “We are confident that Alexandria Industries will be able to supply the components we need to make our customers dreams come true for the performances, and for their fans. As they say, ‘The show must go on.’”