As a job shop, you never want to turn down work if you can help it. You never know when a job for a new customer could lead to other opportunities in the future. While most shops can process flat sheet metal through their equipment, fewer can process both flat and non-flat materials such as round and square tubing. The ability to process tube profiles can represent that future opportunity. Whether the opportunity presents itself through current customers, or by branching out to new customers, you will no doubt have expanded your manufacturing flexibility and competitiveness. Having capabilities that your competitors do not also eliminate price competition as they won’t bid on a job they can’t produce.
Creating Competitive Separation
For fabricators, adding laser tube processing capabilities represents an opportunity to create separation from your competition and to expand into industries that you may not have had access to before. Today’s laser tube processing equipment can load tubes from a large bundle, cut the individual parts nested within the tube length, and then unload the parts… all automatically. Intelligent camera and laser measuring systems work together to control variability in the tube while processing. A weld seam camera automatically detects where the weld seams are located and orient the program accordingly. This is especially important in tube operations where the location of the weld seam is critical.
Tubing is notoriously not straight over the entire length of the tube. For this reason, it is important to cut features while they are close to the guiding chuck. In addition, a laser scan feature allows the real-time compensation of the natural twisting and bending of the tube profile. Prior to each cut, the laser quickly scans the sides of the tube to detect offset and twist and adjusts for the centerline of the tube automatically. This cut features accurately positioned relative to the tube.
Opportunities for Growth
There are many new opportunities in the construction industry: Structural tubing is being used for commercially engineered roof framing support systems where vertical support columns are being reduced or eliminated. Examples can be found in buildings being erected at airports, sports arenas, hospitals, and college campuses, Opportunities also exist in aerospace/defense, oil and gas, and transportation industries (e.g. commercial boom trucks and crane frames) to name just a few.
Becoming that preferred ‘single-source’ supplier
When looking for suppliers, companies are not only looking at price and delivery but also for simplification of their supply chain. Purchasing your products from a single source rather than having to use multiple sources makes the procurement process more convenient. When you produce products no one else can produce you can name your price. When you can produce products faster and more economically you can outbid your competition. When you can do both you are making a compelling and attractive argument for becoming that preferred ‘single-source’ supplier. You will also create competitive differentiation in the process.
By Frank Arteaga, Regional Director of Marketing, Bystronic Inc., Hoffman Estates, IL