27 April 2009

Waterjet cutting essential for high quality cutting

Agricultural machinery manufacturer Harbrook Engineering has invested in equipment valued at in excess of £300,000 on a Bystronic ByJet Pro waterjet cutting system.

Harbrook Engineering was established in 1981 providing an agricultural machinery repair service using an arc welder and a power hack saw. The company then progressed into manufacturing machinery with a hand nibbler, an angle grinder and a drill. A guillotine followed in 1988 followed by a press brake, iron worker and MIG welder in 1989.

By 1994 the company was subcontracting out the making of its agricultural equipment including slurry spreading system and grass cutting machinery and various other equipment. Harbrook then decided to invest in a CNC plasma cutting machine. It ran this machine until 2002 when the company invested in a more powerful one.

Mike Harper, Harbrook Engineering’s managing director comments: “About ten years ago Harbrook Engineering moved into manufacturing food processing equipment but we were unable to achieve the quality of cut with the plasma machine. The problem with plasma cutting is that whilst it is good for steel, it does not provide the excellence of finish we require on thinner materials, nor does it achieve the necessary hole quality on stainless steel or aluminium. Therefore we have to sub-contract out work.

“In addition we have recently become involved in the manufacturing of car turntables.”
These car turntables reduce vehicle turning circle problems and are designed to eliminate the problems associated with having to manoeuvre vehicles in a tight space. As some parts of the turntables are manufactured in aluminium experience told Mike Harper that waterjet cutting was the best option for their manufacturing because of the precision of the cut that would be achieved.
Mr Harper continues: “Our plasma cutter is fine for 80 per cent of our run of the mill jobs in steels but for these turntables, where we require a high quality cut and high quality holes, and for the food processing work waterjet cutting would provide the precision cut we require.”

Harbrook Engineering looked at a number of waterjet suppliers, looking at the quality of cut, the quality of holes produced, a machine’s ability to handle sheet sizes 3 m x 1.5 m and the footprint of the machine. The company visited Bystronic’s manufacturing unit in Switzerland and were very impressed by what they saw.

“When we visited Bystronic waterjet users in Switzerland we saw them running fully enclosed machines resulting in reduced noise levels and a cleaner working environment. In addition we were most impressed by the machines versatility”.

Subsequently Harbrook Engineering has invested in the Bystronic ByJet Pro waterjet cutting system equipped with two pneumatic drills and a changeover table.

“The advantage of the ByJet Pro is that it is enclosed and even when the machine is running it does not need light guards. This means that it can be placed next to other machines and those machines can still be operational and operators can get close to them. Competitor machines have an open bed and therefore other equipment cannot be operated close by.

“The pneumatic drills provide additional versatility in terms of materials used. For instance Alubond has to be drilled before waterjet cutting and this versatility is very attractive to us. We will be able to work with a wider range of materials in a wider range of thickness. The changeover table will reduce machine downtime when to getting plate onto the waterjet. Importantly, we will also increase production as the waterjet will eliminate downstream operations as we will be achieving the excellent hole quality.”

Mr Harper concludes: “The ByJet Pro waterjet cutting system will allow us to bring much of our sub-contract work in-house and will allow us to offer a more unique service facility.”

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