Automated laser with global reach

29 May 2019

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

A new fibre laser with bespoke automation is helping CSM Sheet Metal ship orders as far afield as Oman, Malaysia and Argentina.

Managing Director Paul King says: “I’ve always been a believer in automation, pushing to run machines lights out wherever possible. I don’t understand why more laser users aren’t using it.”

Founded in 1978 CSM specialises in the design and manufacture of sheet metal for a wide range of commercial and retail products on a subcontract basis.

The company’s capabilities stretch from design and development work through to laser profiling and cutting, MIG, TIG and robotic welding, shot blasting and assembly. Products include clean-room filtration equipment, wood-burning stoves, trailers, and components for brands such as McDonalds, JD Sports, Subaru and Debenhams, all requiring precision cutting and speed to produce. Like many, Paul was a CO2 laser user, but, after 18 years was keen to investigate fibre laser technology.

However, any new solution also had to take into account the logistics of the company’s Swansey Mill layout. “We operate out of a former cotton mill, so it is hard to accommodate a large laser machine because of the type of building with all of the columns that are in the way,” says Paul. “Laser machines lend themselves to big, sprawling factories, so while the easy option is often to buy another machine, the footprint doesn’t always suit the space you’re trying to put it into. So, my first thought was – what fits the space?”

As well as being appropriately sized and more energy-efficient, any prospective system needed to exceed the automation capacity of the previous installation. “Our previous laser had automation and that had been successful, so I was interested in any new automation system that offered multi-cassette capacity.”

The solution was a Yamazaki Mazak OPTIPLEX NEXUS 3015 Fiber 4kW laser machine with bespoke 10-shelf automation towers taking into account the pillars and limited tower space available at Swansey Mill, while allowing easy access for loading sheets.

Paul King says: “The automation has given us an incredible capacity, and the machine seems to crunch through any amount of work. I can’t physically feed it enough.”

The new fibre technology laser system has also helped CSM reduce its overall energy consumption, and has provided further operational benefits for the company.

This combination of improved speed, power and efficiency provided by Mazak is helping CSM move forward and expand. Indeed, with the company now shipping products as far as Oman, Malaysia and Argentina, along with its traditional UK market, CSM’s new laser and automation solution is crucial to the company’s future plans.

“I’ve always said to the workforce that technology and automation has never made anybody redundant in CSM – the business has continued to grow in numbers and those people have remained and been redeployed in higher value roles,” concludes Paul. “We’ve nearly 100,000 sq. ft to grow into at Swansey Mill, and we’re continuously growing commercially too – we’ve set ourselves a target to get to £6 million revenue, and the new OPTIPLEX NEXUS will be vital in helping us achieve this.”