Tiernan Automation in Leicester has been using pre-owned laser machines from MSS Lasers in Rugby since 2003 and has recently purchased a nitrogen generation plant to support its latest machine. Formed in 1985 Tiernan Automation started by producing parts mainly for the automotive industry, but now the bulk of its work is in the yellow goods market, producing fabricated and welded assemblies in mild steel up to 15mm thick.
The company traded in its first laser cutting machine with the newly formed MSS Lasers in 2003. David Tiernan, Managing Director says, “We were already confident about the technical ability of MSS Lasers, despite it being a new company, as its Managing Director Carlos Gonzalez-Lee had quickly resolved problems we had with our first machine.” Since then, the company has traded in several machines with MSS Lasers, replacing them with newer more up to date machines. David Tiernan adds, “We like to use tried and tested technology, but at the same time we do not want to fall behind with the capabilities and speed of our machines. Generally, we try to have lasers which are around 5 years old and, with advice from MSS Lasers, have settled on Trumpf machines for the quality of the parts they produce.”
The company now has three Trumpf lasers, a 4kW 4m x 2m machine and a 3kW machine, both purchased in 2009, and a 6kW L4050 machine with linear drives, one of the fastest machines on the market, which was installed in 2010. In total, Tiernan Automation has purchased five pre-owned lasers through MSS Lasers. David Tiernan says, “Using a pre-owned machine is rather like running a used car, as long as it is well maintained it will perform just as well as a new one.” Reliability is of paramount importance to Tiernan Automation as its customers operate ‘Just in Time’ regimes, where they only hold around two days of stock, so delays caused by machine unreliability are unacceptable. The company has a service contract with MSS Lasers for each of its machines, which includes service visits at prescribed intervals as well as callout for breakdowns, where only replacement parts need to be paid for. David Tiernan says, “The expertise and excellent quality of the service we get from MSS Lasers makes it possible for us to operate effectively with pre-owned machines. We know that before a machine is installed that it has been thoroughly checked and refurbished. Where we need a call out, the response is excellent, always the next day and sometimes the same day. MSS Lasers has a good stock of spare parts in Rugby, but also many machines undergoing refurbishment, so parts can often be borrowed from machines to get us going. We are very satisfied with the service we get – when we talk to other people in the industry using different suppliers we hear that the service they receive is nowhere near as good.”
The latest 6kW Trumpf and the older 4kW machine both require nitrogen purging of the beam path, so Tiernan Automation invested in a 7bar low pressure nitrogen generation plant from MSS Lasers at the beginning of 2010. David Tiernan explains, “Purchasing nitrogen packs for beam purging results in a cost of £5/hour, while using generated nitrogen costs less than £1/hour. We run shifts four or five nights per week, so the saving is significant. We achieved payback in 18 months, making this an easy decision. Installation was simple, as the whole system came on a pallet and took 30 minutes to set up. Currently we don’t have a requirement for cutting with nitrogen, but if we did, we would have no hesitation in upgrading to a high pressure system.”
Tiernan Automation relies on the service provided by MSS Lasers. David Tiernan concludes, “Pre-owned lasers are around half the price of a new machine, so it does not make economic sense to purchase new when we can get the excellent levels of service that MSS Lasers supply. For us this this is the most important aspect of our relationship. Without it, it would be impossible for us to offer our customers the on-time delivery and quality they demand.”