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Irish subcontractor cuts bottlenecks & costs with a Kerf Plasma machine
Irish subcontractor cuts bottlenecks & costs with a Kerf Plasma machine
Irish subcontractor cuts bottlenecks & costs with a Kerf Plasma machine

Irish subcontractor cuts bottlenecks & costs with a Kerf Plasma machine

Added to MTDCNC by Kerf Developments Ltd on 08 July 2015

As a general welding and fabrication subcontractor, Clonakilty Engineering Ltd was finding that its growth potential was being held back by the lead-times of its supply chain. To eradicate the lengthy lead-times and costs of using subcontract laser cutting services, the County Cork based manufacturer has invested in an RUR2000p high definition plasma cutting machine from Kerf Developments.

Founded in 1989, the Irish subcontract company has witnessed steady growth since its inception, working with high profile companies such as Intel, Pfizer and ABP foods to name a few. However, when the company moved from its long term 3,000sq/ft facility to a new 10,000sq/ft factory in 2011, its ambition for growth had evolved. As Clonakilty Engineering's Workshop Manager, Mr David Guest recalls: 'When we moved to our new factory, we realised we had the space to acquire a laser cutting machine. However, the level of business as we came off the recession couldn't justify the investment. We have steadily grown by 10% year on year since the downturn, this prompted us to investigate the laser cutting market.'

The company didn't have the facility to laser cut its material in-house and this caused considerable bottlenecks in its workflow. By subcontracting out its laser cutting of stainless and mild steel sheets from 3 to 25mm thick, the lead times for the Irish company were extended by up to 4 days, which wasn't feasible for many customers. The manufacturer of steel components for the construction, medical, science, agricultural, food and pharmaceutical sectors investigated the laser cutting market and immediately took a liking to the Kerf line of machines.
Changing Perception...

 As Clonakilty previously relied on its subcontractor for laser cutting, the company had little experience of the process. By speaking to Kerf, the Rochdale based cutting specialist; both parties identified the high cost of laser machines and that Kerf's high definition plasma range of machines could deliver precision and cut quality similar to that of a CNC laser cutting machine at a much lower cost. As Mr Guest continues: 'I was of the perception that we needed an expensive CNC laser cutting machine. I explained our type of work to the Kerf engineers and they suggested a demonstration on a lower-cost plasma cutting machine. I was really surprised by the +/- 0.25mm precision level, speed and cut quality of the Kaliburn high definition plasma unit on the Kerf RUR2000p machine. We instantly made our decision to invest.' For 14 employee Clonakilty, business would never be the same again...

The Benefits Delivered By The Kerf Plasma...

The immediate benefit was that Clonakilty eliminated the bottleneck created by sending steel sheets to its laser cutting subcontractor. Turnaround times with the external supplier fell from 4-5 days and the company now sets its jobs up almost as soon as they come through the door. This has improved workflow and scheduling and has eliminated internal downtime that may have been created by being 'on-stop' waiting for cut profiles. From a cost perspective, cutting the profiles internally has instantly eliminated the monthly cost of subcontract cutting.

By cutting its own steel profiles, Clonakilty is also cashing-in on the return from its steel scrap, which its subcontract supplier was previously sending for disposal. At the current scrap rate of €130 Euros per tonne, the business is generating an additional return of €700 to €1000 Euros each month. Furthermore, by utilising the Kerf nesting software within the Burny 10 LCD control unit, the company is processing more parts from each steel sheet. As Mr Guest continues: 'The financial, material and time savings have been phenomenal. We can utilise all our remnants from larger jobs and use them to produce small jobs and this is cutting our waste material whilst maximising our profitability. At present, we are producing a 2m diameter flange and an 80mm square bracket in batches of beyond 500, so our workload and material usage is very diverse. Being able to control this internally is making a huge saving. Furthermore, I am really surprised by the low running costs of the Kerf machine. We've made over 50,000 piercings and use the machine almost all day every day - and the cost of consumables and running the machine are both remarkably low.'

Moving Forward With Kerf..

When Clonakilty specified the Kerf RUR2000p, it wanted a machine table to suit its requirement to manufacture 4m long steel staircases. So, Kerf duly obliged with a 4.5 by 1.5m bed on the machine. This also enables Clonakilty to place more sheets and respective components on the machine, which is helping it to further increase its eye watering turnaround times. What it also provides, is the facility to expand the scope of the work taken on by the subcontract company. As Mr Guest says: 'Our business has gone from a steady 10% year on year growth to over 30% since having the Kerf machine. The majority of this business is attributed to our acquisition of the Kerf RUR2000p. We have been able to increase the complexity and intricacy of our work when required; and this has stopped us from turning work away on the grounds that it previously had an unfeasible lead time or the margin was too small. In fact, the Kerf machine now sees us providing a subcontract cutting service to new and existing customers as well as enabling us to profile all our parts.'

'The results have been really impressive. Moreover, the service, support and friendly approach of Kerf means that when we eventually need another machine, Kerf will be our first port of call,'

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