Having earlier this year taken delivery of no less than nine CNC press brakes from TRUMPF, Newcastle-under-Lyme based precision sheet metal subcontractor – KMF - has now placed another order valued at £840,000 for five further TRUMPF bending machines, two of which are fully automated.
KMF, which has always recognised that investment in the latest technology benefits customers through quality, cost and delivery, has ordered a TruBend 5170 with BendMaster 60 handling robot, a fully automated TruBend Cell 7000 bending cell, two TruBend 7036 models and a TruBend 5130X - which offers extended opening height of 615mm.
“Despite already taking delivery of nine TRUMPF press brakes earlier this year, these latest five machines were very much planned,” states Keith Nicholl, business development manager at KMF. “Specifically, a new automated press brake has been on the cards for a while as we wanted to replace two 12-year-old automated bending machines by another supplier. They were starting to give performance issues, increased downtime and longer set-up times.”
The TruBend 5170 will be used by KMF to bend large parts with its 4250mm bending length and 1700kN press force. The addition of the BendMaster 60 robot turns this already versatile and robust press brake into a high output, flexible solution for the widest possible range of parts. The robot can handle a maximum load of 60kg.
“We also wanted an automated bending cell for our smaller parts, hence the selection of the TruBend Cell 7000,” explains Mr Nicholl. “This will prove ideal for parts up to 500 x 380mm in size, which covers 70% of the components we produce. Ultimately it means we won’t have to use a 3m press brake to produce 20mm parts.”
When it comes to the automated bending of small parts, TRUMPF’s TruBend Cell 7000 is the fastest system in the world. The cell’s high productivity bending (50mm/sec) means that users can manufacture at a very low cost per part. The maximum load for the cell’s robot is 15kg.
“The reasoning behind acquiring the two 1.2m TruBend 7036 press brakes is to ultimately replace four 2m models by another supplier,” says Mr Nicholl. “Being electric machines the TRUMPF press brakes are much faster and better suited to our small parts. In addition, the TruBend 5130X with 615mm extended opening height will complement two identical models that we already have on site, one of which will transfer to our training department to ensure our apprentices learn their skills on the latest technology.”
KMF bends materials including mild steel, stainless steel, zintec and aluminium in thicknesses up to 6mm, although typically 1.5-3.5mm. The company operates a lean make-to-order policy – there is no stock or buffered inventory here. Average batch size is in the realm of 40-off, which means quick changeover is among the key drivers for any press brake purchase. During trials, KMF found that TRUMPF press brakes could reduce a complicated multi-bend set-up from 48 minutes down to only five minutes, chiefly through innovative capabilities such as top and bottom hydraulic tool change.
To minimise any disruption to production operations at KMF, the five new press brakes will be installed in stages. The TruBend 5130X is already in place, and will be followed in August 2015 by the two TruBend 7036 machines. September 2015 will see the arrival of the two automated press brakes, the TruBend 5170 with BendMaster 60, and the TruBend Cell 7000.
“In recent years we have invested heavily in our cutting capabilities and now have extensive fibre laser, punch/laser combination and punching machines on site. By shifting our focus to invest in press brakes we can now offer customers bending capability that matches the performance of our profiling machines,” says Mr Nicholl.
Formed in 1971, KMF is still under the management of its founding directors and has grown into one of the UK's largest and most successful sheet metal manufacturing operations. The company has 110,000 sq ft of modern production facilities that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With 350 full time permanent staff, the company’s annual sales exceed £30 million.