"It’s clear the current skills shortage isn’t simply an issue in Northern Ireland; political and economic factors across Europe and the UK are also at play. However, in the face of adversity, there is always opportunity. We are finding more and more of our clients now ready to discuss automation as a solution to the skills shortage.
One of our customers had a busy cutting shop with a team manually drilling and sawing box section. Working together to understand the capabilities of tube laser initially with the design engineers and then the production team, we have enabled them reduce the team by 50%, speed up fabrication, reduce bottlenecks and reduce process downtime.
Automation is key to success in the engineering industry today, the tube laser has always been recognised as a cost reduction tool, today we are delivering solutions for Agricultural companies, crushing and screening, Aviation ground support and gym equipment for some of the UK’s premier football teams.
When we saw the business opportunity of the tube laser it wasn’t solely the flexibility of this technology, but its potential to differentiate Hutchinson Engineering from our competitors. The new design possibilities that the tube laser can enable give us a clear competitive advantage.
Five Reasons to reap the rewards of laser tube cutting:
1. Quality: When cutting tube by hand it is often the case that there are differences from part to part as the operator may use slightly different methods each time. However, the laser will only use the settings that are programmed into the machine so there is less scope for deviation in dimensions from part to part. Repeatability is vitally important in today's manufacturing environment as the increase in lean manufacturing techniques mean that each component part has to be identical to the next. Otherwise the knock-on effect of a part out of tolerance can lead to production delays and inevitably lost profits. Laser cut components fit right first time and every time
2. Speed: Lasers cut at multiple metres per second and can cut box section, pipe and channel faster than via manual methods. This means that purchasers of parts processed on our tube laser can get their parts in a shorter time frame than months reducing the amount of cash they have to keep tied up in stock.
3. Versatility: The flexibility of laser profiling parts on our tube laser gives far more options for designers of parts especially in the architectural and construction sectors. Complex designs can be cut into the materials which are not possible by traditional cutting methods. The Tube laser can help products reach the market faster than before, because laser technology allows prototypes, product re-designs and specials to be completed with relative ease in a few weeks rather than months. In essence its rapid set-up and change-over capability is ideally suited to small batch work, While a large-capacity bundle loader and automated tube handling cater for long production runs.
4. High Volume Manufacturing: The standard supply of box section material is in over six metre lengths, managing these lengths in traditional factories was cumbersome. However, modern tube lasers allow for the loading of material in a single setup. This reduces the amount of time spent handling material thus aiding high volume manufacturing.
5. Automation, saves time and money: The obvious advantage is reduced costs - operational costs can be driven down by using tube laser cutting technology, which reduces labour, simplifies processing and improves quality. One client managed reductions of 50%. Costs can be driven down as components can be 'completely processed' on the same machine, with the same tool, in a single set-up and on a continuous automatic basis. There can also be a reduced stock and work in progress level due to the speed of the machine. Finally Reductions in downstream assembly costs due to the ability to hold tighter fabrication tolerances resulting in better fit up, easier assembly, and simpler assembly fixturing."