Quick and reliable
Walter Zwicklhuber, the owner of Gewa Blechtechnik, puts his faith in automation. Decisive for trouble-free processes – around the clock – are dependable machines like his new TruPunch 5000.
When Walter Zwicklhuber and a partner founded Gewa Blechtechnik GmbH in 1990, the firm played a pioneering role in the state of Upper Austria. This, the very first job shop turning out sheet metal blanks, was met with open arms. Today business is no longer quite so simple. “Given the proximity of the Czech Republic, competition has become tougher. But in Upper Austria, too, more and more companies are entering the field. But this doesn’t ruffle my feathers, since it is no longer just a question of price. Quality and speed are also major factors. Here we can earn points with our expertise, our high degree of automation, and highly productive machines,” explains Zwicklhuber, now 56 and in the meantime the sole proprietor of the company.
Our experience to date has shown that we can depend fully on TRUMPF machinery in terms of processing reliability, too.
Right at the very beginning the newcomers decided to cooperate with TRUMPF. “We knew that we could be successful only if we kept pace with the state of the art. TRUMPF approached us with attractive financing plans so that we could afford the machinery without having to shoulder unsurmountable risk,” the founder recalls in retrospect.
Dependability is a must
Twelve TRUMPF machines are now in service at the modern Gewa manufacturing operation. All the laser and punching machines are linked – fully automatically – with a Stopa storage system boasting capacity for 1,300 tons of standard sheet. The machines run 17 hours a day, seven days a week. Of that time, at least the half is in the “lights-out” mode. “During the light-out shifts it is sufficient to have one employee on standby,” explains Zwicklhuber. The reliability of the machines is, of course, extremely important to his automated production. “Our experience to date has shown that we can depend fully on TRUMPF machinery in terms of processing reliability, too.”
Diversity requires flexibility
The company also focuses on flexibility, since its clientele is active in many different industries – from mechanical engineering to the cabinetmaker next door. The tasks to be handled and the materials passing through its operations are equally diverse. “We work steel in the main – but aluminum, stainless steel, copper and brass as well. Essentially, we deal with all the materials available on the market,” Zwicklhuber explains. Batch sizes range from 1 to 20,000, although runs between 100 and 200 pieces are the rule. Among the items manufactured are complex panels, housings for subway and street car access systems, complicated hinges for doors, delicate sheet metal cut-outs for electronic components, as well as fully mounted assemblies.
A high-productivity all-rounder
When seeking a replacement for an older punching machine toward the end of 2014, Zwicklhuber once again selected a TRUMPF machine. “The TruPunch 5000 was more than convincing with its high degree of automation and its absolute dependability,” he explained. But this machine, designed to handle large formats, also scores on flexibility. The TruPunch 5000 can work sheet metal as large as 3,050 x 1,550 millimeters, at gauges up to eight millimeters. Newly developed axis drives permit higher axis and rotation speeds and, with a high-performance hydraulic drive, the machine can punch as many as 1,350 strokes per minute and marks at 3,000 strokes per minute.
The new ToolMaster Linear makes sure that processes are quick. The tool magazine offers space for up to 90 tools and thus ensures maximum processing flexibility. “That it can be set up in advance, while the machine is working, offers us the flexibility we need. And, what’s more, saves a great deal of time,” Zwicklhuber explains.
Secure processing in multi-shift operations
Automatic loading and unloading is handled by a SheetMaster, while the GripMaster makes for safe and sure handling of sheet skeletons. The latter removes sheet skeletons and strips automatically and stacks them on a scissor table. To ensure that sheet skeleton is kept to a minimum and to achieve maximum use of the panels, retractable clamps make it possible to nest parts across the entire surface.
In terms of product value, too, Walter Zwicklhuber leaves nothing to chance. The TruPunch 5000 is equipped with an active die which guarantees high-quality parts. The good parts are sorted into boxes and are then forwarded to the appropriate cell for bending. “Here we usually gather what we need for a day’s operation, and this quantity is then forwarded to the appropriate cell for bending,” Zwicklhuber explains.
Walter Zwicklhuber is now even more flexible when assigning work to his machines because, in addition to punching and embossing, the TruPunch 5000 also offers numerous options for forming. The active die allows for especially large and high formed sections. Threads can be tapped productively thanks to the high rotation speeds.
Always in the lead by a nose
Not only is the TruPunch 5000 on hand at Gewa. There are also several press brakes, two 2D laser cutting machines, a TruMatic 7000 and the TruBend Cell 7000 – the latter being Walter Zwicklhuber’s pride and joy. For several years he was in search of a machine so that he could get started in automated bending. “I was instantly excited by the bending cell from TRUMPF and that is why I was one of the first in Austria to invest in this machine. I have never regretted it. The automatic tool changer makes us flexible in turning out small batch sizes while the operator enters parts lists offline, which are then dependably worked through overnight,” he explains. The TruBend Cell 7000 is used especially where maximum precision is needed during bending. Workpieces up to panel sizes of 500 x 380 millimeters can be machined here.
Always being among the front-runners is almost a manifesto for Zwicklhuber. “Just like at the company’s founding, I continue to put my faith in ongoing investment in the most modern production equipment. This lets me, whenever needed, respond to exceptional customer wishes,” he says. He adds, “The more complicated a part is to manufacture, the better we can demonstrate our expertise and rise above the competition. This guarantees sustainable growth and that is more important than maximizing profits.”
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in autum 2015.