11 October 2017

TRUMPF machines keep Alpha on track to double turnover

Alpha Manufacturing, sheet metal fabricators, has ordered a TruBend Cell 7000 high-speed robotic bending cell and TruPunch 5000 CNC punching centre from TRUMPF. The 1 million GBP investment complements the acquisition last year of a TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 fibre CNC laser profiling centre and helps keep the company on track to achieve its ‘2020 Vision’ – a five-year plan to double turnover by 2020.

Established in 1989, Alpha Manufacturing, based near Stafford is a privately-owned business that is part of the Bri-Stor Group. Sectors served include construction, automotive, energy, lighting, electrical, security and medical, to list but a few.

“We have for some time admired the TruBend Cell 7000 from afar, but had resisted as all of our existing bending machines [press brakes] are from another supplier,” explains Operations Director Paul Clews. “However, with press brake skills becoming increasingly hard to source, we knew it made sense to look closely at more automated solutions. At first, we considered press brakes with automatic tool changers, but these did not compare with the TruBend Cell 7000.”

Mr Clews and his team performed due diligence on the TruBend Cell 7000 and found the company would have no problem filling three shifts, 24-7, so the purchase decision was made. Installed in June 2017, the machine is now hard at work bending a multitude of different parts.

“In comparison with a standard press brake, we are achieving 30-40% more efficiency,” says Mr Clews. “However, it’s also about the skill set available on the machine. We now have complete peace-of-mind that no parts will be bent incorrectly. Such has been its impact that in 12 months we may look at taking another. Machines like the TruBend Cell form part of our long-term vision to deskill and automate.”

Six-axis back-gauging and a dynamic drive concept make the TruBend Cell 7000 the world’s fastest small-part (up to 500 x 380mm) bending cell. Conveyor-based automation is matched with LoadMaster loading and automatic ToolMaster bend tooling set-ups to eliminate the need for operators. Furthermore, consistent and precise angles are assured (without any manual intervention) thanks to TRUMPF’s tried-and-tested Automatically Controlled Bending (ACB) angle measuring system. Alpha has also taken delivery of TRUMPF’s TruTops Bend offline programming system.

While the TruBend Cell 7000 will operate on a stand-alone basis, the ultimate aim for the TruPunch 5000 is entirely different. Last year, Alpha installed a STOPA automated materials handling and storage system, to which the company linked its new TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 fibre. In the coming 18-months, Alpha intends to extend the STOPA by 5-10 bays, when it will be possible to fully integrate the TruPunch 5000. For over three decades, STOPA and TRUMPF have been working together as partners. Due to this long-term co-operation, the organisational processes between the two companies – as well as the technical interfaces between STOPA storage systems and TRUMPF machines – are perfectly matched.

“The TruPunch 5000 replaces an automated machine from another supplier and gives us far greater capacity – I estimate that it is 100% quicker,” says Mr Clews.

TRUMPF’s TruPunch 5000 sets new standards for productivity, processing, reliability, and flexibility. For instance, backlash-free drives enable the highest axis acceleration, while the high rotational speed of the C axis enables extremely fast tapping, as well as the productive processing of complex contours. Thanks to the powerful hydraulic drive it is possible to punch at up to 1,600 strokes per minute and mark parts at 2,800 strokes per minute.

“More than just a new installation, our new TruBend Cell 7000 and TruPunch 5000 represent a landmark moment in a long-term plan first set out in 2015, and a clear indication of the direction in which the company will be heading in the coming years,” concludes Mr Clews. “In fact, we have taken on three really big customers in the past few months, bringing orders that represent around £3 million per annum. Together with the greater efficiency and capacity afforded by our new TRUMPF machines, we remain on track to double turnover by 2020.”

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