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Kerf Improves Cycle Times by 70% for Subcontract Profile Customer
Kerf Improves Cycle Times by 70% for Subcontract Profile Customer
Kerf Improves Cycle Times by 70% for Subcontract Profile Customer

Kerf Improves Cycle Times by 70% for Subcontract Profile Customer

Added to MTDCNC by Kerf Developments Ltd on 24 April 2015

When subcontract profile cutting company Patrick Steel Ltd was looking at possible ways to expand its well established business, the Coventry company investigated the potential benefits of acquiring a plasma cutting machine to complement its existing cutting, grinding and fabrication capacity.

As a company established in 1986, Patrick Steel has the expertise, experience and industry insight that has seen the business continually grow for a generation. The company decided that the addition of a high definition plasma cutting machine, coupled with the four multi-headed flame cutting machines would have a positive impact on lead times and quality. In addition, it would open up the potential to explore new markets, particularly with thinner material, allowing customers a viable alternative to the more expensive laser and water-jet cutting. The future potential to offer a non-ferrous cutting service, including stainless steel and aluminium would be a further benefit.

The automotive, aerospace, construction, fabrication and general manufacturing subcontractor, fully investigated the potential benefits of a plasma cutting machine. Upon investigation, the clear benefits of adding plasma cutting to the existing flame cutting and grinding services were apparent. It was the recommendation of numerous independent steel profiling companies and service engineers that led the 12 employee company to Kerf Developments and its RUR2500 plasma cutting machine.

Commenting upon the acquisition, Patrick Steel's Joint Managing Director, Mr Jamie Bruce says: ‘’Our flame cutting machines have the capacity to cut from 5 to 300mm thick steel plate. After an in-depth analysis of our actual cutting habits we deduced around 50% of material sold was 25mm thick and under - ideally suited for high definition plasma cutting. The Kerf machine will also enable us to below the 5mm lower limit of flame-cutting to thinner gauge material, further enhancing our product range. The benefits of plasma cutting were evident and based on our review of the market and recommendations, we opted for the Kerf RUR2500.’’

With a decision made, the Kerf RUR2500 was installed in the final quarter of 2014. The  new acquisition instantly delivered results. As Mr Bruce continues: ‘’In general, flame cutting machines have a pre-heating period of 30 to 35 seconds prior to piercing  whereas the plasma machine is almost instant, with a fully automated cutting procedure. This has made an immediate impact on our productivity. Furthermore, the Kerf machine has improved the quality and precision of our parts with the Kerf RUR2500 achieving a cut precision of ±0.25mm through most plate thicknesses in comparison to ±1.0mm achieved with flame cutting. In addition, the edge quality has also improved and customers are recognising this and often requesting a plasma-cut finish.’’

The need for speed..

Patrick Steel has always been aware that plasma cutting was faster than flame cutting for parts up to 25mm and once the Kerf RUR2500 was installed and running the cutting speed advantage became apparent. The machine, with a 6m x 2m cutting bed proved itself to be 4.5 times faster than the flame-cutting machines and in some instances up to 7 times faster. ‘’The cutting speed is significantly faster and with no pre-heat time, the Kerf RUR2500 has been an excellent addition to our plant list. The setting-up of plates has also been improved and this also increases our throughput and capacity and decreases downtime.

The Lantek software and Burny control unit on the RUR2500 has contributed to throughput for Patrick Steel, as Mr Bruce continues: "The machine software has an automatic nesting feature that works on a database configuration. This improves the location and through-flow of repeat jobs from the office to the shop-floor. It also allows us to produce more parts from each plate by automatically utilising any remaining plate stock to produce components from any previous production run by digitally locating stock. This has further reduced our material costs. Furthermore, the control unit on the Kerf machine is very user friendly, easy to operate and enjoyable to use.’’

Looking to the Future...

In the few short months since taking delivery of the Kerf RUR2500, Patrick Steel has improved productivity by 75% for almost 50% of its workload. Additionally, by moving this work to the more productive Kerf machine; Patrick Steel has also freed up capacity for its four flame cutting machines allowing them to seek out heavier work better suited to the flame-cutting process. The software on the Kerf machine has also expedited the workflow for Patrick Steel with lead times being further reduced.

From a quality perspective, customers are appreciating the better surface finishes and precision delivered by the Kerf RUR. Concluding on the acquisition, Mr Bruce says: ‘’The Kerf purchase has been a revelation for our business. It has improved quality, throughput, productivity and also given us extra capacity on our alternate machines. The service and support from Kerf has been outstanding and we are extremely pleased with the plant purchase.’’

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