Kerf steps up to the plate for West Midlands manufacturer

The Kerf 'Beast' profiling 250mm thick steel
The Kerf 'Beast' profiling 250mm thick steel

The West Midlands manufacturer claims to have the world’s largest reciprocating grinder and also the world’s largest Lumsden grinder. The machines are capable of grinding parts up to 5m long and up to 3.43m in diameter respectively.

When the company needed a large heavy-duty cutting machine – it turned to Kerf Developments.

Based in Smethwick, AJS Profiles was founded almost 40 years ago as a steel profiling company cutting and grinding steel plates for customers in a host of industry sectors. Over the years, the range of profiling and grinding services has expanded along with the materials the company can process for its clients.

Nowadays, the 30-employee business occupies a 50,000ft² facility. With the addition of services like heat treatment and stress relieving, hydraulic flattening, welding and fabrication, shot blasting and more – the company now supports high-profile clients in sectors as diverse as structural construction, aerospace, automotive, nuclear and power generation, and also the defence industry.

When the company came under new ownership in 2013, the current growth trajectory was set in motion. Before 2013, the company owned a range of grinding and flame-cutting machines from a selection of vendors, including a Kerf machine. Some of the profiling machines at the time were ‘shape cut’ machines.

AJS Profiles’ director Steve Harris explains: “We wanted to move away from shape cut machines and upgrade to modern technology. In 2011 we bought our first Kerf machine, an RUR3500G which was soon followed by an RUR2500P plasma machine.

“So, when it came to making a shift to more advanced technology, the service, support and quality provided by Kerf on their two machines stood out. We gradually moved from the old technology, employing Kerf flame and plasma cutting machines with CNC controls that drastically simplified, modernised and improved our cutting capabilities.”

The first Kerf machine installed at AJS Profiles in April 2011 was the RUR3500G, a 3m by 12m bed machine with four gas cutting heads for cutting steel plate, which was rapidly followed a month later by a single cutting head RUR2500P plasma machine.

If it was the longstanding level of service that won the orders for the two machines, it was the quality, productivity and overall performance that bore fruit in the coming years with a total of nine Kerf machines installed over 11 years.

When Bill Gould and Neil Webb joined the company as co-directors in 2013, the business expanded exponentially and more Kerf investments subsequently followed in 2014 with a RUR3500P, a RUR3500G and a RUM4000G. The year ended with the installation of ‘the Beast’ – a RUM3000G with an oxy-arc lance capable of cutting through steel up to 1m thick.

The RUM3000G ‘Beast’ is a gas cutting machine that has a reinforced gantry extending beyond 1.5m high. The extended bridge height accommodates the 1m thick steel plate that AJS frequently cuts while providing thermal protection with its through coolant design that protects the integrity, repeatability and stability of the bridge during heavy-duty cutting.

Following a spell of consistent growth, the available capacity of the Kerf machines alongside other technology kept AJS Profiles on its upward trajectory until it hit a point where further capacity was needed.

This point arrived in November 2020 when it acquired another RUR3500G and a RUR3500P. “We needed another gas cutting machine purely for capacity as our workload once again increased,” Steve Harris recalls. “To ensure the machine would cater for a further upturn in demand, we specified the machine with four gas cutting heads and a 3m by 12m bed.

“Regarding the RUR3500P, we already had 150A and 275A machines, so the third plasma was delivered with a higher powered 400A cutting head. The existing 275A machine is perfect for cutting steel plates up to 35mm thickness, but for anything thicker we had to cut with gas.

“What we were finding was that customers were increasingly demanding components cut from thicker material with a higher-quality edge finish. The RUR3500P with the 400A plasma cutting head gives us the ability to cut with excellent edge quality up to 50mm thick – although it can comfortably cut up to 80mm plate, far beyond our previous 35mm limit.”

Expansion continued. AJS added its fourth RUR3500G oxy-fuel cutting machine, which is the company’s sixth gas cutting machine from Kerf. Arriving in September 2022, the latest arrival has been installed to streamline production and keep lead-times to a minimum.

“The latest RUR3500G can cut plate up to 250mm – and for everything beyond this, we have ‘the Beast’,” Mr Harris concludes. “As a business, we pride ourselves on our fast turnaround and excellent customer service. Depending upon the type of work a customer requires, we can complete work around in anything from as little as 24 hours to a matter of days.”

Kerf Developments

AJS Profiles

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