UK sheet metal maker boosts productivity by 40%

UK precision sheet metal fabricator is to boost its productivity with the acquisition of a new high-speed robotic bending cell.

The acquisition keeps the metal sheet maker on track to achieve its ‘2020 Vision’, a five-year plan to double its turnover by 2020 – image courtesy of Alpha Manufacturing

Stafford-based sheet metal maker Alpha Manufacturing has ordered a TruBend Cell 7000 high-speed robotic bending cell and a TruPunch 5000 CNC punching centre from Trumpf.

This £1m investment complements the acquisition last year of a Trumpf TruLaser 3030 fibre CNC laser profiling centre, and it keeps the company on track to achieve its ‘2020 Vision’ — a five-year plan to double its turnover by 2020.

Established in 1989, Alpha Manufacturing is a privately-owned business that is part of the Bri-Stor Group, employing over 100 people in a purpose-built 65,000 sqft facility.

It processes a wide range of materials in thicknesses from 0.5 to 25mm, from prototype quantities up to batch sizes of thousands. The sectors served include construction, automotive, energy, lighting, electrical, security and medical.

Paul Clews, operations director, said: “We have for some time admired the TruBend Cell 7000 from afar, but we resisted, because all of our bending machines were from another supplier.

“However, with press brake skills becoming increasingly hard to source, we knew it made sense to look closely at more-automated solutions.

“At first, we considered press brakes with automatic tool changers, but they did not compare with the TruBend Cell 7000. In my opinion, there is nothing else like it on the market.”

Clews and his team performed ‘due diligence’ on the TruBend Cell 7000 and found that the company would have no problem filling three shifts, 24/7, so the purchase decision was made. Installed in June, the machine is now hard at work bending a multitude of different parts.

Clews added: “In comparison with a standard press brake, we are achieving 30-40% more efficiency.

“However, it’s also about the skill set available on the machine. We now have complete ‘peace of mind’ that no parts will be bent incorrectly. Such has been its impact that in 12 months we may look at taking another. Machines like the TruBend Cell form part of our long-term vision to de-skill and automate.”