The 40-employee subcontracting business produces anything from one-offs to small and large batch runs that range from small components to the extremely large. To get a scale of the workload at the heavy engineering business, it is processing an average of 400 to 500 tonnes of steel every month – almost 40% of this material is run through the company’s new Kerf RUR4500.
The reason behind the investment in the massive machine was due to two older 12m by 2.5m flame cutting machines and a 6m plasma machine proving unreliable and creating an inefficient workflow.
Commenting on the acquisition of the Kerf RUR4500 machine, P.P. Profiles (West Yorkshire) commercial director, Daniel Morley says: “We specified the machine with a single high definition 400 amp plasma cutting head on a 12m by 4m bed and a two-machine 24m by 4m bed that consists of both a six-head and a four-head flame cutting gantry – all in a single 39m by 4m cell. This allows us to load much larger jobs and it has opened us up to new markets, as parts over 12m long parts are not uncommon.”
Mr Morley continues: “Anybody wishing to survive in the UK manufacturing sector must have efficiency at the forefront of their minds and prior to the arrival of the Kerf RUR4500, we had to run a late shift and a night shift.
“The Kerf machine cell instantly eradicated the need for extra shifts. This is because each of the three previous machines required loading, material processing, and unloading the steel sheets that could be up to 12m long and then cutting the sheet remnants into smaller sized quantities for scrap disposal. This was all very labour intensive and happening when the machine was not cutting.
“Now, we have four people running the three machines within the Kerf RUR4500 cell. There are operators running each of the two flame cutting gantries and another on the plasma machine. Feeding the Kerf machine is a crane operator that organises and sorts material flow as well as ensuring the three machines are always loaded with material. He also removes the plate remnants. This workflow configuration has reduced our processing times by at least 50%.
“The 50% time saving is credit to having the ability to pendulum load and process our workflow,” he continues. “This means we can cut steel plates on the large bed while the crane operator is loading the next plate. So, as soon as the machine has cut one plate, it can move on to the next. This eliminates non-cutting times and slashes set-up times.”
The typical lead times at P.P. Profiles are three to five days. However, the Kerf installation has eliminated bottlenecks, improved workflow and scheduling and given the company the facility to react much faster to customer demands.
“The core reason for selecting Kerf was not only down to the machine capability, but also our positive experiences of reliability, consumable supply and of course the confidence in their service support.”
As well as previously experiencing frequent breakdowns with old its machines, the other reason P.P Profiles (West Yorkshire) invested in the Kerf machine was quality and consistency.
“We found with our old flame cutting machines that dimensions were susceptible to drifting during cutting and this could lead to reworking and scrap parts,” Mr Morley says. “Whilst the Kerf flame machines can cut beyond 300mm thick material, we are generally cutting up to 150mm plate and at these dimensions, drift was possible in all axes.
The RUR4500 has eliminated this issue. Precision is guaranteed, the cut quality is far superior, and this is all driven by the Burny 10LCD control which is very easy to use and programme. Furthermore, the 7.5 bar pressure through the cutting nozzles is making the machine 20% faster than its predecessors.
The Burny 10LCD Plus CNC control unit is on each of the three cutting stations to provide flexibility and familiarity for operators. However, with a Windows embedded operating system, ease of use and familiarity with precise and repeatable motion control are guaranteed.
Mr Morley also comments on the Kerf plasma unit that is powered by a Lincoln Electric Spirit II 400 amp machine with UltraSharp cutting technology.
He says: “The whole machine has an ingenious plate alignment feature that identifies the corners of the steel plate as datum points and then uses these to automatically adjust the cutting path via the Burny CNC platform to eliminate the need for perfect alignment.
“This means we no longer have to perfectly align plates and sheets on the machine bed prior to cutting. This gives us another considerable saving with regards to set-up times and the reduction of non-cutting time.”
He concludes: “The Kerf RUR4500 has delivered everything we wanted and more. It has streamlined our workflow, reduced labour requirements, improved machine utilisation and uptime by 50% and it has improved productivity by over 20%.
“Additionally, with its UltraSharp cutting technology we have confidence to take on any future challenges.”
Kerf Developments www.kerfdevelopments.com