30 August 2016

Trulaser 3030 fiber at heart of Alpha's automation storage system

Alpha Manufacturing, a 100+ employee precision sheet metal fabricator, has ordered a TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 fiber CNC laser profiling centre to form a pivotal workstation in the company’s new 1 million pound  STOPA automated material handling and storage system. Due for installation later this year, the investment in TRUMPF laser cutting technology marks a shift away from Alpha’s existing supplier.

A member of the Bri-Stor Group, Alpha Manufacturing is a privately-owned business that was established in 1989. The company, which is based at a purpose-built 65,000ft² facility near Stafford, processes a wide range of materials in thicknesses from 0.5 to 25mm, from prototype quantities up to batch sizes of thousands. Sectors served include construction, automotive, energy, lighting, electrical, security and medical.

“A short while ago we began a value stream mapping exercise as we wanted to limit the amount of fork lift movement within the factory,” explains Operations Director Paul Clews. “I knew from a previous employment that the STOPA storage system could provide advantages such as waste reduction, less damage in transit and reduced potential for accidents at work, not to mention a huge increase in efficiency. The selection of the TruLaser 3030 fiber with loading automation was made based on the machine’s ability to handshake with STOPA and optimally integrate with the tower system, which made it our preferred choice over other machines we considered.”

For over three decades, STOPA and TRUMPF have been working together globally as partners. Due to this long-term cooperation the organisational processes between the two companies as well as the technical interfaces between STOPA storage systems and the TRUMPF machines are perfectly matched.

The TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 fiber offers high levels of flexibility and profitability. Importantly, the machine’s TruDisk 4001 solid-state laser enables the processing of both ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and provides an extra productivity benefit when it comes to thin sheets. Furthermore, proven functions such as the automatic nozzle changer help minimise downtime.

The STOPA storage system offers fully automated material handling and material flow with full integration into the processing machines. Raw material is loaded into the STOPA and then picked by a longitudinal moving crane and delivered to the processing machines as required. Minimum material reorder levels can be set and automatically replenished as required making manual inventory checks a thing of the past.

At Alpha Manufacturing, the STOPA system will feed sheets to the new TruLaser 3030 fiber and existing TRUMPF TruMatic 6000 punch laser combination machine to help facilitate lean manufacturing, boost production capacity and promote lights-out operations.

This landmark investment at Alpha Manufacturing, which is accredited to both ISO9001 and ISO14001, is the first phase of a five-year plan to double the company’s turnover by the end of 2020. The next phase will see investment in another laser and two more punching machines from TRUMPF.

“The long-term goal is that, as the STOPA system expands, it will serve most of our production assets, including our folding and panel bending machines, and the future TRUMPF punch and laser machines,” says Mr Clews. “Ultimately, the system will run the full length of our facility, making us completely automated. All strategic WIP will be managed at the push of a button, maximising our efficiency.”

“We are particularly excited to install our first TRUMPF laser cutter – it’s a new direction for us and we’re looking forward to getting started,” concludes Mr Clews.

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