Pendle Engineering started as a two-man business back in 1977 and has grown steadily into what it is today, a leading subcontract supplier of steelwork, a description that covers its main focus on tube and flat sheet manipulation along with extensive turning, milling, robotic and manual MIG and TIG welding and powder paint and design capabilities.
Along the way it has also branched out into manufacturing a range of bicycle racks, trailers, and storage under its sister company Pendle Bike Racks.
Having this capability under one roof allows Pendle Engineering to offer turnkey manufacturing solutions to its customers, which come from a wide selection of industries such as office furniture, energy, retail, and defence.
These clients range from SMEs through to global blue chip companies where Pendle’s ability to deliver consistent, high quality batch production has created strong relationships. To ensure that any growth could be met with improved efficiency, the decision was taken to enhance its tube working capabilities, bringing in additional BLM Elect 52 and E-Turn 32 tube benders alongside a state-of-the-art BLM Laser Tube LT-Fiber Evo fibre optic, fully-automated laser tube cutting system.
“Business has been increasing, especially with increased orders for Pendle Bike Racks, so we knew we had to upgrade our existing tube processing capacity,” says Chris Smith, managing director, Pendle Engineering.
“We had a history with BLM for tube bending over many years so when it came to upgrading our 15 year-old tube laser it made sense to talk to them and put a bending and laser package together. A big advantage in doing that was the ability for the controls on the BLM benders and the Laser Tube to communicate with each other and the ease of use of the BLM software and offline programming was also a significant factor. The less time a machine is idle the better.”
The BLM Laser Tube LT-Fiber Evo is a highly capable machine available with either a 2kW or 3kW fibre laser and the capacity to cut round tube up to 152.4 mm diameter or square tube up to 120 x 120mm section. Productivity is enhanced by the standard bundle loading facility which is capable of handling up to 4,000kg of material to a maximum length of 8.5m.
BLM Group has also developed a number of patented technologies to maximise productivity; these include a series of ’Active-Tools’ such as Active-Focus which makes automatic adjustments to compensate for variations in material thicknesses; Active-Scan ensures highly accurate parts even with tubes that are poorly dimensioned; Active-Speed adapts all of the cutting data to achieve the highest quality cut at the highest output; while Active-Pierce which boosts piercing reliability and speed, especially on thicker materials.
The BLM Laser Tube LT-Fiber Evo machine’s cutting capabilities are enhanced by the software systems from BLM Group. A range of systems enhance production, such as the patented Artube 3D CAD/CAM system, a straightforward solution to take the user from concept to finished part as easily as possible.
ProTube Express and Enterprise are also invaluable tools for production control, estimating and general management functions. And, of course, all BLM systems are compatible with Industry 4.0 requirements allowing them to be integrated, not only with other BLM machines, but automation and other compatible technology.
“We already seeing the benefits of increased productivity, even though we are not running at 100% yet with the LT-Fiber Evo. It’s faster, the nesting capability brings a reduction in waste, we can cut more complex components, yet the operation of the machine and software is much simpler, which will allow us to introduce a third shift as and when required,” Mr Smith explains. "We're looking forward to fully understanding the potential capability and capacity before driving growth.
“The two new BLM tube benders completed the machine package and give additional capability to Pendle Engineering. Our existing E-Turn 40 gave us good left and right hand bending capacity, but the new E-Turn 32 offers greater flexibility for smaller diameter tube up to 30mm diameter, while the Elect 52 provides a cost-effective solution for tube up to 50mm diameter,” he adds.
“Bending is critical to what we do, so we need a reliable supplier for machines, service and support, and BLM also has an added human element to its support. In total the investment in the BLM laser and tube benders was over £1 million and it was a big decision for us, but we are here for the long-term.
“Having this capability ensures that we can catch any opportunities that come our way, especially as we talk to customers about reshoring and recovery from the pandemic. It was definitely a decision worth taking and we are already seeing business improving.”
BLM Group UK