15 March 2015

Vehicle accessory manufacturer extends sheet metalworking capability

Leading commercial vehicle accessory manufacturer, Exeter-based Van Guard (, has increased its manufacturing capability with the addition of an automated BySprint Fiber 3 kW laser cutting machine and a 100-tonne capacity Xpert pressbrake from Bystronic UK (

The acquisitions represent a major investment by family-owned Van Guard to improve product quality as well as to increase the speed, flexibility and volume of production. They underline the company’s commitment to designing and manufacturing its products in Britain, and to delivering world-class standards at competitive prices.

The fibre laser will also improve the company’s green credentials, as it uses less energy to produce the same results. Productivity is dramatically increased, by up to three times when processing thinner materials.

Van Guard’s managing director, Barry Woodward said, “Our investment in the new fibre laser profiling machine marks a new and exciting chapter in our company’s history and means we can capitalise on an improving marketplace and economy. Turnover is currently at record levels.

“Not only do the new Bystronic machines introduce the latest technologies and software, but they also expand the range of products that we are able to manufacture. However, we will naturally continue to focus on our core market of commercial vehicle accessories.
“Improved speed and automation also gives us the ability to increase output dramatically and deliver bespoke orders quicker.”

Incorporated in 1976 as an engineering subcontract company serving the aerospace industry, the company soon became recognised as the vanguard for van accessories. It subsequently specialised in the vehicle accessory market, manufacturing and supplying roof bars and racks, pipe carriers, bulkheads, grilles, internal storage and other items.

Its product range is continually being adapted to meet the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace. For example, 2013 saw the launch of Van Guard’s most successful product to date, the ULTI Bar, an innovative and aerodynamic aluminium roof bar that is proving to be a top seller. The company is a member of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) and holds ISO 9001 and 14001 accreditations.

The BySprint 3015 Fiber laser cutting machine is equipped with a 3 kW fibre laser for profiling sheet up to 3 metres x 1.5 metres. The axes accelerate at 12 m/s2 to give a simultaneous positioning speed up to 140 m/min.

The machine’s main benefit is high speed cutting at up to 35 m/min. It will profile 20 mm thick mild steel and is also capable of processing reflective materials such as stainless steel and aluminium up to 12 mm as well as brass and copper up to 6 mm. By adding a ByTrans Extended automatic sheet load / unload and large parts removal system, Van Guard benefits from long periods of unattended running.

The new Bystronic Fiber machine has allowed Van Guard to replace two modern CNC punching machines with one laser and increase productivity, reduce scrap material and lower noise levels. The laser machine also allows greater flexibility and more complex part designs to be incorporated without additional tooling costs.

The Bystronic Xpert Pressbrake is rated at 100 tonnes and has a bending length of 3.1 metres. It is a highly capable, 6-axis CNC machine with hydraulic crowning, a bending speed of between 1 and 10 mm/s and return speed of up to 250 m/s.

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