What is a Laser Job Shop?
We define a laser job shop as ‘any commercial organisation that uses industrial lasers and complementary techniques for profit.‘ Membership of AILU automatically entitles such
laser users to free membership of the Job Shop Group.
The Job Shop Special Interest Group
We believe that making a success of running a laser job shop is more of a challenge than ever and the growth of the laser job shop group (established in 1999) to its current level of over 80 members has clearly demonstrated that there is a need and much to be gained from the group’s activities.
Mark Millar, Essex Laser
Job Shop Committee Chair
Job Shop Member Quotes
"The Association has much to offer any company involved in laser profiling technology" says JS SIG founder member David Lindsey . “For the membership costs each year, AILU represents excellent value for money,” Mr Lindsey advocates. “I personally sit on the Jobshop sub-committee and find it an invaluable resource for the sharing of ideas and networking but as is the case with many industry associations, it would be even more effective if we could increase membership levels. As a result of an AILU gas survey, a little brow- beating and threats to move supplier we managed a saving of £80,000 over a twelve month period."
“Visits to other AILU Job Shops have allowed us to implement some simple organisational and layout changes to the way we operate”
Neil Main, Micrometric Ltd.
“Our Electricity Survey highlighted that 2 members spending the same monthly amount on electricity had an 11% difference in overall cost per unit – highlighting a potential annual saving of almost £20,000”
John Powell, Laser Expertise Ltd.
“The annual AILU Breakdown Response Survey allows us to hold the laser suppliers to account for their level of customer support. Pressure from AILU Job Shops has resulted in positive improvements from the suppliers.”
Mark Millar, Essex Laser Ltd.
Benefits of membership include:
We run at least one informal business meeting a year for group members and invited guests, with key presentations on topics of common concern and interest.
We offer a Job Shop Forum on the web site for posting questions and answers plus a free over the phone consultancy service.
Sales leads from our web-based Products and Services Directory are automatically forwarded to all job shop members.
We conduct at least two surveys a year on commercial value to laser job shops. These surveys are free to participate in, and only participants receive the survey results, with total anonymity. Recent topics have included gas, electricity and breakdown satisfaction.
Jobshop SIG Committee Members
|Jonathan Horne||Laser Process Ltd|
|John Powell||Laser Expertise Ltd|
|Neil Main||Micrometric Ltd|
|Phil Carr||Carrs Welding Technologies Ltd|
|Cirrus Laser Ltd|
|Mark Hannon||Midtherm Laser Ltd|
|Mark Millar||Essex Laser Job Shop Ltd|
|Jamie Sharp||Laser Engineering UK Ltd|
|Dave Lindsey||Laser Process Ltd|
Chair's Report by Mark Millar
From AILU's The Laser User magazine (May 2019)
INSPIRED BY TILE
Since the last magazine issue I have been lucky enough to attend a behind-the-scenes tour at a tile manufacturing facility. As a Mechanical Engineer by training I found the whole process fascinating and I was blown away by the scale, complexity and technology being used to create a humble tile. The facility has 6 tile making ovens and therefore 6 production lines. Just like the automotive industry they had automated as much as possible. The 400 metre long ovens run 24/7 and are only switched off once per year for maintenance, meaning very high production volumes are possible.
What I found interesting was the combination of similar manufacturing techniques and challenges that I see in the sheet metal world, plus the amount of laser cut parts used to achieve the level of automation one now sees in these modern manufacturing facilities. The tiles in this particular company are all made by compressing a ceramic mixture using a hydraulic press, just like one would press sheet metal.
The tooling creates the size and shape of tile including the surface texture on the underside for adhesive application, and a smooth or patterned top surface of the tile, whichever is required. Many conveyor systems are used to move the tiles through various treatment stages including the high definition printer that is so good I couldn’t tell that some tiles were not real slate or marble.
Smart robotic forklifts are used store the tiles and then bring them to the oven when scheduled. All the while there is a constant focus on trying to keep the tiles clean and free from debris and damage, something to which I can certainly relate!
I was also impressed by the numerous sensors and automated quality control. At one point they even have 3 different machines all using lasers to inspect the quality of the tile. Better still, if it fails the tile is automatically kicked into the scrap bin below! From raw ceramic to being boxed and palletised, the tiles are not touched by a human hand.
I find it is good to get out of the office occasionally to see how other facilities are solving problems and what challenges they face. I was certainly inspired by some of the techniques they are using and even a little jealous of the automation they could achieve due to the consistent size of the tiles being produced. It would be much easier if all my customers just wanted rectangles all the same size all day, every day! Then I remembered, that the variety of parts is what makes job shop work so interesting!