Tube laser machine helps fabricator develop full-fledged diversification strategy
Every business owner understands the need to diversify. Larry Rouse, owner of three companies, knows this and continuously looks for opportunities to expand the reach of his businesses.
Two of the companies in Rouse’s portfolio, Global Innovative Defense Inc. and Powder Coating Solutions, were the products of organic growth. The parent company, Southern Stainless, would buy a machine or develop a process for a single customer and before long, word would get around among his customers. Rouse created two entirely new companies to focus on those specific capabilities.
The parent company’s focus is commercial food service applications. Global Innovative Defense Inc. manufactures products for the Dept. of Defense, while Powder Coating Solutions provides a choice of 6,000 finishes.
Still, Rouse felt that the company’s fortunes were tied too directly to one industry.
When the company made some substantial investments to augment its manufacturing capabilities last year, it was pleased to find that the demand for one category of service was higher than it had anticipated.
“One of our customers needed quite a few machined parts, and until recently we had to outsource that work,” said Travis Crowe, one of the company’s sales and design engineers. It was the same story as always—Rouse’s companies had little control over lead times for outsourced work—so the executive team developed a plan to bring the work in-house. It soon realized that the demand for the new service was a fair bit greater than he had anticipated.
Waynesboro, Va., has a substantial amount of manufacturing, but it’s not a manufacturing hub. The OEMs in the area aren’t supported by a robust network of fabricators and machine shops, so it didn’t take long to fill the machine’s productive capacity.
Rouse knew that to diversify further, he’d need something completely different from the equipment he had purchased in the past—an entirely new service to help break into new markets.
Rouse found a new opportunity in tube fabrication and invested in a TRUMPF TruLaser Tube 7000 fiber tube cutting laser. The new machine accepts round products up to 10 in. dia. and, powered by a 4-kW solid-state laser, it can cut through wall thicknesses up to 0.4 in. On the infeed side, the machine handles materials up to 21 ft. long, while the outfeed area can unload workpieces up to 20 ft. long. Among squares and rectangles, it accommodates materials with sides up to 8⅝ in. and fitting within the 10-in.-dia. envelope.
A large hopper with an automatic feeder on one side of the machine enables unattended production, while a manual loader on the other side allows an operator to interrupt a large job to run a small, urgent order without unloading the hopper.
Its profile detection system allows automatic loading and shape detection. A camera system measures the dimensions and determines the amount of camber, twist, and other irregularities. The machine also is equipped with SeamLine Tube, which finds weld seams or markings so the tube can be aligned in the machine appropriately. The machine goes beyond cutting, incorporating drilling, tapping, and friction drilling, also known as the Flowdrill process.
Source: The fabricator www.thefabricator.com