High technology on the Western Cape
South African supplier Fabrinox has earned a name for itself as a reliable partner for high-quality sheet metal processing. To maintain this position, Managing Director André Visser is banking on solid-state laser technology with the TruLaser 5040 fiber.
The South African industrial city of Paarl has much to offer: an interesting history, beautiful landscape, fine wine – and high-quality sheet metal parts. These are made by Fabrinox. Founded in 1993 with five employees as a manufacturer for stainless steel components, the company today employs 101 full time and 31 part time employees. Fabrinox’s primary facility has expanded to cover 5,000 square meters as well as secondary facility of 15,000 square meters, and the company supplies numerous customers in the food, beverage, agricultural and energy industries with components and modules, as well as complete production lines.
“We’ve specialized in the licensed production of components, sub-assemblies and projects entailing under-licence manufacturing,” explains Fabrinox Managing Director André Visser when asked about his company’s unique selling point. “We offer our customers custom solutions from a single source – from individual parts to installation.” The positioning as a licensed manufacturer provides security and consistent capacity utilization. “Through ongoing interaction with our customers over the years, we’ve built excellent business relationships. And we’re growing with our customers.”
The customer’s quality requirements are high – as are his: “At Fabrinox, a sophisticated quality management system and a completely computer-controlled fabrication ensure high productivity and quality,” declares Visser. The ISO certificates hanging on his wall underscore the quality orientation. As Visser explains, “We want to attain a national leadership role in the area of innovative fabrication of sheet metal components through the deployment of leading-edge technology.”
Efficient solid-state laser
The technical basis comes from Ditzingen, Germany: the Fabrinox machinery includes two TRUMPF press brakes, a TruLaser 3040 with RotoLas attachment for processing tubes, and a TruLaser 5040 with CO2-laser beam source. The newest member in blue-and-white livery: the TruLaser 5040 fiber with solid-state laser. “The TruLaser 5040 fiber offers the most economical solution for highly efficient thin sheet metal processing,” explains Visser. “In gauges up to five millimeters it takes full advantage of the high feed rates of the energy-efficient TruDisk solid-state laser. That lets us cut a wide variety of materials, including copper and brass.” As a supplier, this flexibility is especially important to him.
Visser is enthusiastic about the efficiency of the solid-state laser machine – particularly the single cutting head strategy and the automatic nozzle changer deliver additional advantages. “With the TruLaser 5040 fiber, we’re cutting different material thicknesses without changing the cutting head. That reduces unproductive idle times,” he reports. Additionally, this increases process reliability.
Competitive advantage: energy efficiency
The machine also scores points in energy-saving: the efficient TruDisk laser is supplemented by an intelligent cooling system that significantly reduces energy consumption. And when the laser is not in service, it automatically switches off five minutes after the end of the program. “The TruLaser 5040 fiber is extremely energy-efficient to operate,” Visser states. “With energy costs rising and limited supply, this is a clear competitive advantage for us.”
Maintaining specialist knowledge
But efficient machines alone are not enough: “In order to utilize and optimize our technical potential, we need skilled employees.” Consequently, Fabrinox operates a special education program: selected young workers are sent to the machine manufacturer in Europe for advanced seminars following their internal training. When they return to Paarl, they utilize their newly acquired knowledge at Fabrinox – where it is urgently needed: Visser anticipates increasing sales in the African market, primarily from the agriculture, infrastructure, food and beverage sectors. He also sees potential in renewable energy, mining and water utilities. The objective is clear – and the path to it as well. “With practical and disciplined work and continuing investments in new technology and qualified employees, we will continue to be successful,” asserts Visser.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in autumn 2012.