Growth leads to investment leading to more growth for Optima Metal Services
The Timesavers 42 Series RB machine from Ellesco installed at Optima Metal Services is easing a deburring bottleneck and generating new business
From humble beginnings buying and selling nuts and bolts and other fittings from his garage 25 years ago, Roy Thurston and his two sons Neil and Dean have grown Kings Lynn-based Optima Metal Services into a leading metal stockholder, which also offers pre-fab processing services to customers using state-of-the-art laser and bending technology. Its success is a virtuous circle of growth, investment, growth that is continuing with further expansion to take it to 45,000 ft2 of warehouse and manufacturing space.
Optima Metal Services’ move into stockholding began with stainless steel and aluminium. Then, with customer demand, it added mild steel. That same customer demand then called on Optima to provide prefab subcontract service profiling and forming sheet and plate to order, so this circle of growth and investment began. An ongoing reorganisation of its manufacturing capability will see that capability grow further, resulting in three 10 kW lasers with 4 x 2 m tables, a 3 kW laser with 3 x 1.5 m table and the latest investment, as part of a £1 million expansion, adding a tube laser capability. All this investment has generated more business, with the most recent 10 kW laser generating a 30 percent increase in business that required an additional seven employees to assist on the finishing side of the process, such as deburring, which was a fully manual operation. The solution to this bottleneck was to invest in a Timesavers 42-1350-RB series machine for deburring, finishing, edge rounding and laser oxide removal from Ellesco.
“Stockholding remains central to our business, but there has been a growth in demand for us to laser cut and fold to order, offering a same-day/next-day delivery where possible, especially for customers in the local food processing sector, where breakdowns in their production can be costly if not resolved quickly. We can be called on to produce anything from a one-off from a rough sketch to batches running to tens of 1,000s, so we have to be able to react and this need has been central to our investment policy. It is encouraging that every time we add capacity, it generates new opportunities and business,” says Optima’s operations manager, Andy Knowles. “It was the same with the arrival of the Timesavers machine. Previously all our deburring and radiussing had been a manual process, which was subject to the usual human inconsistencies and was also time consuming. With the Timesaver we now get consistent quality and much faster.”
When Optima first viewed the Timesavers machine, there were some comments that the process seemed slow as work travelled past the rotating brushes on the vacuum conveyor. However, when applied to a working example where manual deburring a batch of parts was taking up to four hours to complete, the total time when using the Timesavers machine reduced to 11 minutes. “This one job was enough to convince everyone that this was a good move to make and, by our calculations, the Timesavers 42-1350-RB is the equivalent of six operators manually deburring. These people are now able to transfer to other elements of the business with upskilling and training.”
The decision to go for the Timesavers 42-1350-RB came following discussions with Ellesco’s sheet deburring specialist Colin Moon and a review of the potential deburring workload. The 42-1350-RB provides the optimum solution and, with the bulk of Optima’s work being cut from 1.5 mm to 4 mm thick material across a range of materials, it provides a straightforward solution to its deburring and radiussing needs. “We took the decision to specify the machine with just rotating abrasive mops (brushes) and not an abrasive belt. The simplicity of programming the machine to suit the wide variety of stainless steel and aluminium that we process eliminates the need for detailed knowledge, which is the case when manually processing these materials,” says Andy Knowles. “Additionally, there are definite health and safety benefits. With the elimination of hand tools, there is no risk of Hand Arm Vibration and associated issues with hand-held tools.”
The Timesavers 42 RB series is available from Ellesco in two widths: 1,350 mm and 1,600 mm, with components are fed through two sets of four contra-rotating brushes (eight brushes in total) to achieve consistent and uniform deburring, while also rounding the edges with up to a 2 mm radius on all edges of the part. The vacuum conveyor transports the parts at feed rates between 0.2 to 8 m/min and the table opening of up to 100 mm means that, as well as flat parts, those with pockets and protrusions, such as louvres can also be processed. The brushes can be quickly changed to accommodate different materials and applications, with abrasives such as silicon oxide, aluminium oxide, ceramic and sprung steel tines available as standard. A range of dust extraction systems is also available with the machine at Optima Metal Services being fitted with a W120-5.5kW Non Flam dust collector unit from Filtermist to ensure a clean working environment.
“Deburring and component finishing is an important part of the service that we offer as standard to customers. Since the arrival of the Timesavers 42 RB series the quality of finish that we are achieving has been noted and commented on by customers. More interestingly, we are seeing work come back to us as a direct result of the consistent quality that we can now achieve,” concludes Andy Knowles.