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Automated fibre laser boosts sub-contractor

Posted on 11 Jan 2016 and read 2430 times
Automated fibre laser boosts sub-contractorThe Nottingham-based sub-contract profiling and fabrication specialist St Ann’s Sheet Metal Co (www.saintanns.co.uk) has invested in a new Trumpf TruLaser 3030 Fiber with 3kW TruDisk laser and LiftMaster Compact load/unload automation (www.uk.trumpf.com).

Following its installation last year, this CNC profiling system has helped the sub-contractor to dramatically cut cycle times, boost growth by 20% — and secure contracts that were previously out-sourced to China.

St Ann’s Sheet Metal offers a range of sheet-processing services. Established in 1960, the company was acquired by the current owner — Dave Bloomer — in 1997.

Ever since, he has continually invested in the business and seen it develop a reputation for high levels of manufacturing quality, as confirmed by its ISO 9002 accreditation. The latest phase of investment, amounting to around £500,000, includes the automated TruLaser 3030 Fiber, which has replaced an ageing — but still reliable — Trumpf Trumatic L2510.

Mr Bloomer says: “We were finding ourselves unable to compete on price. When we started to investigate why, it became apparent that our seven-year-old CO2 laser was a major factor. Laser technology had moved on, and we knew that investing in the latest machine was the only way we could compete more effectively.

"When we researched the laser market, it was apparent that fibre laser technology was the best way forward, particularly on the thinner gauges that we process on a daily basis. We were already familiar with Trumpf, and the company offered the whole package — machine, automation, service agreement and back-up.”

St Ann’s Sheet Metal has an annual turnover of £2 million and serves a wide range of industries, including retail, heating and ventilation, renewable energy, lighting, automotive, aerospace, rail and computing. The materials processed include mild steel, Zintec, stainless steel and aluminium — mostly in thicknesses of 1-3mm. That said, mild steel up to 20mm thick is also processed, as are stainless steel and aluminium up to 12mm thick.

“With the fibre laser, cycle times on certain jobs are up to five-times faster than on our previous machine, but typically at least twice as quick,” says Mr Bloomer.

“Two benefits have resulted from this. Firstly, we are more competitive on price, which helps win orders; secondly, we have created more capacity. Moreover, we have found that cutting with nitrogen as the assist gas further boosts our output.

“What we would normally complete in 18hr can now be completed in 12hr, using nitrogen. With this in mind, the next phase of investment will see us install our own nitrogen-generating plant.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that our company is an attractive proposition for customers. To be successful, we must offer on-time delivery at the right price and the right quality, which is something that we
always try to achieve.”