Stourbridge-based Tasman Industries — one of the UK’s leading providers of light engineering components — has
acquired two automated pivoting-bow bandsaws from Kasto Ltd, the most recent of which was delivered in December 2016.
These have transformed the efficiency with which the firm cuts bar material in a vast array of metal types and sizes into large batches of up to several thousand. For smaller runs of about 50-off, it relies partly on a similar semi-automatic saw installed earlier last year by the same supplier.
Tasman specialises in supplying shaft keys, key steel, shaft collars, taper pins, slotted pins, precision dowel pins, screws and many more products in sizes from a few square mm in cross-section up to 125mm in diameter, 100 x 50mm and 75mm square.
Materials include steels, stainless steels, nickel alloys, titanium, copper alloys, aluminium bronze, phosphor bronze and brass.
Established in 1988, the company is currently owned and managed by equal partners John Bairner and Benjamin Stirling.
They oversee a complex manufacturing and distribution business that involves sourcing raw material and products from all over the world and shipping it to 3,500 customers — about 800 of which are active in any given month.
These customers, which include ‘blue chip’ multinationals, are mainly in the UK, but some can be found as far afield as New Zealand.
Complicating Tasman’s activities is the fact that only half of the company’s output is standard, the remainder being bespoke specials supplied to customer specification.
These require a combination of milling, turning, grinding, laser cutting, heat-treating and plating, carried out by around 1,200 sub-contractors, only half of which are in the UK. It is a truly global operation.
Focus on sawing
The only ‘machining’ undertaken at Tasman’s warehouse in the West Midlands is the straight and mitre cutting of 200 tonnes of bar material a year, for which the mainstay are two KastoFunctional A pivoting-bow automatic bandsaws and a KastoFunctional U semi-automatic model.
These machines, which feature a substantial construction with a robust torsion-free welded base, can cut material to a maximum size of 260mm round/square. Moreover, stock can be mitre-cut to the left at angles up to 45deg and to the right at angles up to 60deg.
Mr Bairner said: “We tried moving to automatic sawing a few years ago and purchased a circular saw from another manufacturer, but the blade kept breaking and the hydraulics leaked. Overall, it was not a good experience.”
Tasman went back to using a pair of semi-automatic bandsaws (one is still in use), but the company could see the benefits of automation for longer runs; in 2014 — following a demonstration at Kasto Ltd’s Milton Keynes showroom (www.kasto.com
) — it decided to go down the automatic bandsaw route and installed a KastoFunctional A, which has a roller in-feed table.
Mr Bairner says: “The machine proved so accurate, reliable and productive that we went for the semi-automatic U version during the first half of 2016 and a second fully automatic model at the end of the year.”
A feature of these bandsaws highlighted by Mr Bairner is that material is fed accurately by a ballscrew drive, as used for axis positioning on mainstream machine tools, rather than by a leadscrew or a hydraulic cylinder.
He also highlights the user-friendliness of the Kasto touch-screen control, which allows easy programming of the next cutting job, and the in-built database that saves time by automatically selecting the correct band speed and rate of down-feed to suit the type and size of material to be cut.
Mr Bairner says that as cutting volumes increase, he will consider buying a bundle clamp for one of the KastoFunctional As, to increase sawing efficiency further when processing bar of smaller cross-section.
This could happen sooner rather than later, as Tasman introduced a sub-contract cutting service at the start of this year that will see the company saw to length and mitre-cut stock for other companies in the Midlands.
To prepare for this (and other initiatives), Tasman bought new 25,000ft2
premises in Rufford Road, Stourbridge, in November 2016; these are five-times larger than its previous facility nearby. The company has also introduced a new business-to-business system on its Web site (www.keysandpins.com
), so customers can order standard products on-line.
It now aims to spend more time on the bespoke manufacturing side of its business, which it believes will be the main area for growth.
Quality will continue to be at the heart of its activities, not only through ISO 9001 accreditation but also through reliability of service and fast turn-round backed by full-lot traceability, certificates of conformance and test reports.