In December 2019, Coventry-based Park Sheet Metal became the UK’s first company to invest in the newest version of TRUMPF’s TruLaser Cell 7040 five-axis laser cutting machine. Adding to a fleet of existing, previous-generation TruLaser Cell 7040 machines, the latest version brings a number of advantages to this specialist in low-volume automotive metal parts and assemblies, including greater energy efficiency.
Established in 1947, Park Sheet Metal is a £16 million turnover, business that occupies five sites covering a total of 85,000 ft2. This world-class company, which is certified to IATF 16949, ISO 9001and ISO 14001, supplies to prestigious customers that include Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus, Jaguar Land Rover and LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Co), to list but a few.
“Although we already had three TruLaser Cell 7040 machines, the need arose to invest in another as one of our major customers, Aston Martin, has opened an additional factory at St Athan in Wales” explains Director Graham Penter. “In turn, there was a clear requirement to expand our capital expenditure and facilities, to continue supporting their expansion over the coming years. The same is true for LEVC, with the introduction of their new electric van. Due to these developments, extra five-axis laser cutting capacity was an obvious need.”
Typical components produced at Park Sheet Metal include pressings, brackets and assemblies, many of which are complex in nature. As a specialist in lightweight components, the majority of the parts are laser cut from aluminium and steel.
“As with all of our capital investments, we evaluate the market carefully before making purchase decisions,” says Mr Penter. “However, as previously, we considered TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 7040 to be better than the alternative solutions available. Our technical staff have always had a preference for TRUMPF in terms of cutting quality and consistency. In addition, a big advantage was the ability to transfer all of our existing programs to the new machine.”
He adds: “It’s really nice having four TruLaser machines, giving us the flexibility to grow, which is the main reason we have retained TRUMPF as our preferred supplier of five-axis laser cutting technology in recent years.”
Mr Penter also offers praise with regard to the machine’s installation, which he describes a real “value add” for the company.
“Our factory is a particularly awkward, challenging size and shape, making it difficult to bring in new machinery,” he says. “We relied quite heavily on support from the commissioning team at TRUMPF, in terms of how we might actually get the machine in the building and into its allocated space. TRUMPF came out five times to measure-up and plan the installation. As a result of their attention to detail we sited the machine successfully, despite only having millimetres to spare at some points along the way.”
Park Sheet Metal has obviously used TRUMPF before and selected the same supplier for this project because it was confident that the installation could be executed within the specified lead time, which was crucial.
“We were actually quite tight in terms of when the machine had to be delivered versus when we needed it to start cutting parts,” explains Mr Penter. “Our business was acquired in July 2019 by Rubicon Partners and the decision to purchase the new TruLaser was delayed until the new owners arrived, which shortened the timeframe to get the machine in place. Fortunately, the new owners were already aware of the capabilities that TRUMPF solutions can offer, making the sign-off process for the new investment much easier.”
Park Sheet Metal invests in the latest technology for many reasons, not least to achieve accuracy and repeatability through all of its laser cutting. One of the big benefits of the new TRUMPF machine is its energy-efficient operation. The latest TruLaser Cell 7040 enables significant improvements in energy efficiency without compromising on cutting speed or productivity.
“It’s a challenging market so we need to make sure we continue investing in the latest technology to maintain our competitive edge.” says Mr Penter.
During the peak of the coronavirus crisis Park Sheet Metal remained operational, turning its attention to supporting a number of healthcare and PPE related projects. The company relied upon the flexibility of its five-axis laser capacity to develop production ready components in extremely time constrained conditions. Operations are now in the process of ramping up again following the return to work of its major automotive customers.