“Now we’re twice as fast”
After intensive planning and construction phases, the stage was set. Stamm Blechtechnik has launched production. Its CEO, Martin Stamm, talks about stumbling blocks and recipes for success.
Mr. Stamm, you have realized your dream and set up automated production. Are you happy with the results?
I am very satisfied. We have achieved our goal of optimizing production sequences with automated machinery and modern logistics systems. Compared with non-automated production – that’s what I knew in the past – this was a major step forward. We have been in business since mid-2012 and have gained our first new customers.
So the advantages of your automated production have already made themselves noticeable?
Most definitely! I hadn’t thought that optimization would be so extensive. We can now produce certain parts in half the time needed when using non-automated procedures. That was a very pleasant surprise. In our operations, the storage system sends a continuous stream of material to the machine. And only when that happens can you see how productive the machine can be when it’s cutting. All transportation using the fork lift is eliminated and, with that, many brief interruptions in operations are avoided. Thus our work is far more efficient.
Automated beam centering helps us, too. Every three hours – or following a collision – nozzle centering is checked entirely automatically. The lens is inspected every eight hours. In the past that cost us a lot of setup time. Now the machine would be able to work unsupervised during the late shift, since the nozzle is also changed out automatically after a certain period of time.
You were closely involved in the construction phases. Did this strategy also pay off while the new machine was being installed and commissioned?
Absolutely. I was always on site during assembly and installation. That let me get a feeling for the new machine, right from the outset. What’s more, the installers gave us many helpful hints for day-to-day use. If you can’t be on hand yourself, then you should be sure to assign an operator to follow the work. That pays for itself afterwards.
What were the last steps along the road to perfect production?
Once the Stopa storage system and the TruLaser 3030 had been assembled and installed, commissioning was the next phase. Fine tuning involved many small steps. Our first job was carried out with the machine being fed by the storage system. In the next step the TRUMPF technicians implemented TruTops Fab. After that, we were able to execute our first job order using the complete system.
At the beginning – for a while, at least – our production used only the laser cutting machine. In January of 2013 we then expanded this new production facility with a TruMatic 6000. Several trial runs were needed to integrate this combination machine before we began using it in everyday work. Today the two machines communicate with the Stopa storage system. It automatically delivers the raw materials and, after the work, accounts for finished parts and residual sheet metal.
And where were there rubs? What snags did you experience while the system was being completed?
Those were minor problems – nothing critical. You have to make a large number of decisions in advance, and they are difficult to modify later on. Let me give you one example. Our new high-rise storage system is engineered for large-dimension sheet metal with a maximum weight of three tons. Correspondingly, pallet loading height may not exceed 90 millimeters.
Our supplier delivered these stacks of sheet metal just as he had in the past, but that overshot the maximum height and we couldn’t get the material into the machine. Fortunately there is a solution for just about everything. Our supplier now delivers stacks of sheet metal optimized to suit our automated manufacturing.
What hints might you give other job shop owners who are planning to install new facilities?
I think anyone involved in a project of this scale should plan in more time from the very outset. For instance, during commissioning we made use of the chance to equip the TruLaser 3030 with new technologies like the automatic nozzle changer and integrated beam centering. That option was ready for rollout and we were able to adopt it from the very outset.
What else are you planning for Stamm Blechtechnik?
We want to further expand our product line so that we can offer our customers the entire spectrum of sheet metal processing. This starts with simple laser cutting and includes delivering complex assemblies. The next major step in technology will be bending. Over the long term, of course, the solid-state laser is of interest. Its high speed when cutting thin sheet metal makes it simply unbeatable. And as far as efficiency goes, the new laser generation with its reduced power consumption offers additional benefits.
However, every new investment depends on customer demand. Which orders are we receiving right now? Where is demand rising – or falling? It is also important to leave ourselves sufficient time – so that we can launch every new technology without any rush, get production up and running, and then consider the next step, once the new investment is producing dependably.
When you look back, was there anything you would have done entirely differently?
Not that I can think of. We have to first see how this all develops over the long term. At present we are fabricating only half of the range we envision for the future. But I think that if we adhere to the strategy we have set – and continue to work with a close eye on processes and structures, then success will come to us just as we’ve planned.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com