“If only everything worked just this perfectly!”
Edlund is one of the very first companies to test the new Trulaser 2030 fiber — the very first laser system to be used by the kitchen equipment manufacturer. Production manager Nathan Howard reports on how the acquisition has been worthwhile.
After 90 years of company history, the TruLaser 2030 fiber now stands on the shop floor, the first laser cutting machine in the firm’s record. It was just about time, don’t you think?
Absolutely! Our developers in particular had been yearning for the laser for quite some time. The equipment we had in the past kept us from getting ahead, especially in terms of design. In the past we used punching machines exclusively for cutting, where today we use the laser. Of course, the field of kitchen equipment has seen a great deal of progress in recent years and punching was no longer the best choice, especially for our commercial equipment. This is especially true for surface quality. Our customers handle our products dozens of times a day. No sharp edges can be tolerated. In addition, cleaning the equipment has to be quick and reliable. To finish the surfaces in the past, we assigned four workers exclusively to deburring the parts. That, of course, is everything but cost-eﬃcient — and we, in particular, have to keep an eye on eﬃciency.
Why is that?
Our position on the market is fairly unique. We still produce and ship almost exclusively from our initial location in Burlington, Vermont. With our extensive degree of vertical integration we make good on our claim to turn out only premium products. To not fall behind the competition, we have to make sure that all our processes achieve maximum eﬃciency.
But new machinery first means spending a bit of money…
That’s right, but we take a good, close look at every investment. And the TruLaser 2030 fiber is a prime example here. Our calculations show that it will have been amortized after just two and a half years. And this is true although we used only the current one-shift operations as the basis for our calculations. In the future we want to make use of the optional automation component for the machine. That will make it pay for itself even sooner. But, as I said, we are already wildly enthusiastic — and that is something we didn’t expect.
You’re alluding to the fact that the TruLaser 2030 fiber is an entirely new machine. You were one of the first customers to test it out. What were your initial experiences?
I can simply say this: If only everything worked just this perfectly! The machine was delivered and no more than four days later it was integrated into our regular operations. There were almost no initial diﬃculties at all. We actually had expected a significant number of bugs and were assuming about 15 percent downtime. Ultimately, it was nowhere close to that. What’s more, the problems we encountered were all fairly minor. And here a word of praise for the service department is in order. Whenever we had any trouble, TRUMPF delivered the solution a quarter of an hour later.
Now the situation is that the TruLaser 2030 fiber is not the most powerful machine in the TRUMPF range. Instead, its ratio of price to performance is captivating. Is this adequate to satisfy your claim to premium quality?
Entirely! You see, the fact is that we don’t need to cut especially heavy-gauge sheet metal. 98 per-cent of our stainless steel sheet is between 0.6 and 1.9 millimeters thick. I simply don’t have to hire a muscle man. A 3-kilowatt laser is more than suﬃcient and the TruLaser 2030 fiber is the ideal machine for this thickness. It was important for us to work more quickly. Moreover, we can now manufacture products that simply were not possible before.
Can you cite an example here?
What occurs to me right off the top of my head is our multi-purpose wedger, dicer and cutter from the Titan Max series. Making up its frame posed a number of challenges for us. The very tiny radii and curves simply could not be cut with our punching machine. The laser, however, lift s any restrictions on our work. We cut the part so that the entire device is far more stable when assembled. And we get four extra frames from each sheet of metal. Another example is the pusher finger in our tomato slicer. The plates were always bent when they exited the punching machine and then had to be straightened, deburred and washed before processing could continue. We save on those operations now and that makes us 30 percent more productive.
Did this increased productivity then make itself noticeable on a larger scale?
For sure. We have entirely new ways to approach new developments. We simply sketch out a drawing on the PC, take the USB ﬂash drive out into the shop, and cut a few test components. In just a few minutes we have our samples. It couldn’t get any better! This has let us reduce our development time by more than half — exactly the effect we were hoping to gain from a technology like the laser.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in Autum 2015.