MTL invests in advanced £1m automated laser cutter

Posted on 14 Jan 2016 by Jonny Williamson

One of the UK’s largest metal manufacturing and profiling specialists, MTL Advanced has invested £1m in an automated large format CO2 laser cutting machine for its Rotherham facility.

The brand new 6m x 2.5m Trumpf TruLaser 8000 laser was commissioned in December as part of an ongoing investment plan to modernise MTL’s machinery line-up and boost productivity.

With high-speed cutting and reduced energy consumption of up to 40% compared to the machine it replaced, the new investment is hoped to enable MTL to retain a competitive advantage on large volume production contracts, as well as wear resistant, high strength and stainless steel components.

Commercial director at MTL,Karl Stewart commented: “Our investment in this ground-breaking laser cutting machine will enable us to remain at the forefront of our industry, as there are very few companies in the UK with this level of technology in-house.”

“Investment in large format cutting machines has been at the core of MTL’s past successes, and the new TruLaser 8000 complements our already impressive line-up of large profiling machines nicely. This includes a 20m x 3.5m laser, a 12m x 3m waterjet machine, and a 25m x 5m plasma cutting machine to name but a few.”

The laser cutting machine will also be fully equipped with an “Intelligent FMS” (Flexible Manufacturing System). Specifically designed for sheet loading, unloading and part sorting, the system will add an extra layer of automation to MTL’s operations.

The automated material handling system is ideal for MTL’s large contracts and batch orders as it is capable of running 24-hour unmanned operations without the need for an operator.

Parent-company WEC Group commercial director, Wayne Wild explained: “Lean manufacturing techniques and automation are essential to our growth and continuous improvement strategy.

“We have made several other similar investments in a 640 ton, fully-automated robotic press brake, as well as 13 robotic welders. The addition of the new sorting technology to our profiling cell is a step forward in the automation of our manufacturing process. We can now profile, press, and weld components of up to 6m in length with minimal involvement from operators, which means we can guarantee the highest level of quality and repeatability to meet the expectations of our large OEMs customer base.”

Since bringing MTL out of administration in February 2015, WEC Group has embarked on an ambitious investment plan to secure the long term success of the South Yorkshire company.

As one of the largest engineering and fabrication companies in the UK, WEC is in the process of investing a further £7m to acquire the 300,000 sq ft facility and 6 acres of land in Rotherham which MTL has occupied since 2011, giving the company much needed room for future expansion.

Under WEC Group’s leadership, MTL has achieved month-on-month profitability and built up a strong order book for 2016 thanks to several new multi-million pound contracts. Since the acquisition, 45 new roles have been created at MTL and a recruitment drive is currently under way to fill more skilled roles.

Several other areas of the business have also received substantial investment from WEC Group as part of its ongoing expansion plan. This includes more than £2.5m of investment in capital equipment such as the latest CNC machining and waterjet cutting technology at the Group’s Blackburn sites, as well as further investment in the new Darwen-based Powder Coating division which was launched in 2014.

Meanwhile, WEC Group also opened a brand new sales office in Stafford, West Midlands in December to increase the reach of its laser cutting operation.

WEC Group’s total investment for the past 12 months has reached the unprecedented level of more than £4m – a testament to the business’ strong growth ambitions.