Sliver of Light XIII: UK companies prepare for turnaround with laser cutting investments

Over the past month, companies in the United Kingdom have been sharing with the world their perspicacity in anticipating a return to economic growth by preparing to meet the anticipated influx of new orders for fabricated metal products. Each of the following has made a major investment in laser cutting equipment in what can best be termed a not-so-beneficial economic climate. ILS salutes these three companies and wishes them success in their forward thinking.

Investing in a cutter
After operating a Bystronic laser cutter for six years, Econ Engineering (Ripon, North Yorkshire), a manufacturer of highway maintenance equipment, invested almost £700,000 with the purchase of a Bystronic Bystar laser cutting system equipped with 4.4kW resonator and a Bystronic PR press brake. Colin Trewhitt, Econ Engineering's production controller, comments: "In today's environment we feel it is vitally important to keep manufacturing techniques up-to-date and keep the factory running at its absolute best, hence the need for investment."

Adding tube cutting
Laser Engineering, a division of WEC Group Ltd, (Darwen. Lancashire)) invested in a TRUMPF TruLaser Tube 7000 machine that will compliment the company's existing seven flat-bed laser machines. It also demonstrates the Group's commitment to planning for the future. "In what is currently a tough trading climate, we are focused on adopting a 'business as normal' approach. By continuing to invest in new technologies and skilled staff, we believe we will be better placed than most to take advantage once the upturn begins. The purchase of the new laser machine alone has meant the immediate creation of new operator and programming positions." WEC Group has also recently completed the build of a new 25,500-ft purpose-built facility for its laser division, which will increase much needed capacity for the Group.

Expanding into laser cutting
A Rotherham (South Yorkshire) firm with the assistance of the Manufacturing Advisory Service has quadrupled its turnover and doubled the size of its workforce in six years.

Thanks to MAS's involvement, 14-year-old Specialised Laser Products has become leaner and more efficient and expanded its services, investing in a £300,000 state-of-the-art laser cutting machine. The company had increased the size of its factory by 50% two years ago.

The company originally focused on precision cut blanks for the machine knife industry, but now works for a wide range of industries, including aerospace, electronics, fabrication, food and catering, general engineering, motor and surgical instrument.

Founder and managing director Duncan Proctor says the firm has improved delivery performance by 10%, reduced defects by 40% as well as improving liquidity and freeing up factory space by reducing the level of stocks it needs to hold. He says, "We aim to make ourselves into a one-stop-shop for our customers as we now offer extra services including bending, punching and powder coating steel products."

These new items originally appeared in the AILU e-Newsletter and the The Star (South Yorkshire).

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