A TRUMPF TCL3030 flat-bed laser cutter installed at Stannah Stairlifts is about to clock-up 88,000 hours on its original resonator. To put this impressive feat into perspective, 88,000 hours is the equivalent of running non-stop (24 hours a day) for 9.13 years!
Stannah is the only name that most people can recite when it comes to stairlifts. The brand is a hallmark of quality ably supported by manufacturing excellence at its main production plant in Andover. Here, the centerpiece of the company’s fabrication shop is a pair of TRUMPF TCL flat-bed CNC laser profiling centres – the aforementioned TCL3030 and a TCL3050 (the latter was installed in 2006). Both are served by TRUMPF LiftMaster automation. The machines help Stannah produce around 500-600 stairlifts a week for both the UK and worldwide export markets.
“It’s fair to say we’ve had our money’s worth out of the TRUMPF 3030,” states Austen Kirby, Maintenance Manager at Stannah Stairlifts. “It has exceeded our expectations and everyone here is pleased with the longevity that this machine has offered our production operation.”
The TCL3030 has for most of its working life processed mild steel up to 8 mm thick, although 70% of the time it accommodates 3-5 mm thick sheet. Stannah deploy a kanban system throughout the factory and so parts here are manufactured to order. Both TRUMPF machines run across two daytime shifts and then unmanned overnight in accordance with a pre-programmed production plan.
“We work the machines hard, there’s no doubt about that,” says Mr Kirby. “However, we also take good care of them. Alongside me I have a team of six maintenance engineers who attend to the needs of all our production machinery and plant equipment.”
For the TRUMPF laser cutters this entails monthly checks of factors such as oil level and condition, filters, pressures and chiller water.
“It just means we can keep an eye on things and make sure we act in time if anything requires correcting or changing,” says Mr Kirby. “Naturally we only ever buy TRUMPF OEM replacement parts. This is definitely among the major reasons why we rarely experience a breakdown situation – 88,000 hours on the TCL3030 tells its own story in that regard. On the odd occasion this machine has stopped we’ve always managed to get up and running again very quickly.”
With this in mind, Stannah has benefited from two of its maintenance team attending TRUMPF laser-specific training courses in the USA. As a consequence of this investment, the company has been able to self-diagnose the few faults that have occurred beyond the machine’s initial warranty period. It should be noted, of course, that for companies without an in-house maintenance team, TRUMPF provides a comprehensive menu of service agreement options.
Over the years Stannah has become an intensive user of TRUMPF technology. Aside from its twin automated laser cutters, the fabrication shop has two CNC TC Series punching machines and four TRB Series press brakes. In fact, Stannah is currently considering the latest TruBend 7036 press brake.
As for the TCL3030 laser cutter, production continues unabated. What’s more, there is little room for complacency as Stannah typically targets annual growth in the region of 3-5%.
“While it’s still running there seems little point in considering a replacement for the 3030,” states Mr Kirby. “In the eventuality that the resonator eventually gives up, we have set aside the investment required to have this changed. To be honest, the rest of the machine appears to show very little wear despite being a workhorse for so many years.”
Among the many recent improvement initiatives at Stannah’s fabrication shop include electronic monitoring of OEE. Needless to say, the TRUMPF laser cutters tally well, typically recording 80-90%. A score of this nature would be considered world class in the eyes of almost any expert in production management.