Sheet metal industry introduces online course, software

Free Fitting Input Tool allows designers to create fittings efficiently the first time

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – On today’s jobsites, time is money. Every second lost can mean money lost, and in the current economic environment, it can easily make or break a company. To help contractors make the best of their time, the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry, developed the Fitting Input Tool (FIT) online software and training course.

On a typical jobsite, field personnel often sketch the fitting they need and either hand deliver it back to the office or fax it back to the company’s shop foreperson, who creates the part digitally and sends it to the cutting table for fabrication. With this method, problems often occur– from translation to missed measurements – and it has to be redone a few times before what the project needs is achieved.

The FIT software allows a designer to input the appropriate numbers, check all angles of the design in a three-dimensional view, make changes and either print out a shop ticket or, if their shop uses the Benchmark building information modeling software, send it directly to the shop foreperson who can immediately send the parts to the plasma table for fabrication.

“With the way things are done now, even after a designer finds a fax machine and sends it to the shop, there’s a chance he or she may not get back what they needed and have to repeat the process. FIT will eliminate a lot of re-dos and whatever the designer orders is what he gets,” said Mike Harris, program administrator for the ITI. “They’re correct, crisp and clean drawings or an electronic file. If there’s a job close, it’s instantaneous. It can be downloading or burning on the table within minutes.”

Unionized sheet metal workers in good standing can sign up and complete the online course for free. Once the course is passed, and the designer becomes certified, he or she can download the software to use. Currently, the software is only available for computers. The online course and software launched Dec. 7. A version for mobile devices will be available in the future.

“When designers order parts in the field, they usually need it right then, and with the current process, it takes time. Work has to be pushed back. Deadlines aren’t met. That can cost a company a lot of money,” Harris said. “FIT is the most cost effective avenue, because the designer knows exactly what he’s getting the first time.”

More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at training facilities in the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). ITI supports 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 ITI, or the FIT online course and software, visit or call 703-739-7200.

Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Industry, Software
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