With an AMADA FLW fiber laser welding system and an FO-3015MII RI laser cutting machine, Metallforum Metallbau GmbH in Ahrbergen in Germany is extending its manufacturing expertise to meet its specific needs. This expertise underpins the company’s business success, allowing it to differentiate itself effectively from its competitors as a high-performance solution provider.
At Ahrbergen-based Metallforum Metallbau GmbH, the large sliding door of the new FLW laser welding system glides silently into place. The robot arm then carefully moves on its track to position itself above the workpiece. And then the sparks start to fly as the laser head applies its weld spots and weld seams with absolute precision. During this operation, the laser table constantly rotates to move to the required machining position and, after the application of eight welds, the stainless steel housing for input control systems is finished.
Sheet metal working underpinned by AMADA
The sheet metal housing is just one of thousands of products manufactured in short runs by the company, which was founded in 1996. “In all our products, the key focus is always on quality,” explains Jens Löchel, Managing Director of Metallforum Metallbau GmbH. “However, we are also well known for our flexibility and rapid reaction times, our first-class service and ability to keep our deadlines.” To achieve this, the company and its sixteen employees make extensive use of the growing pool of AMADA machines. This comprises a total of twelve systems covering every aspect of sheet metal working, including three HD ATC, HFP and HFE press brakes, an ENSIS-3015AJ fiber laser cutting machine, an FO-3015MII CI laser cutting machine, an AC-2510NT turret punching machine, a VQC measuring machine – and, since May 2017, the brand new FLW fiber laser welding machine.
Solution provider with a competitive edge
However, the new FLW fiber laser welding system is not merely an extension to the existing machine pool. Instead, it represents a considerable increase in performance which, in turn, sends a powerful message to the market. “With the FLW laser welding system we can now offer activities, services and, above all, solutions that would previously have been inconceivable for us – and which even today other companies are unable to provide,” emphasizes Jens Löchel. “In this way, the FLW laser welding system has decisively increased our manufacturing expertise. In turn, this new expertise clearly differentiates us from the competition and, ultimately, is a crucial factor in our success.” With its clear positioning as a solution provider, factors such as the offered price or manufacturing volumes play only a subordinate role for Metallforum Metallbau GmbH – unlike for many of its competitors
Value added in practice
Despite this, efficiency and cost-effectiveness are of vital importance for the business success of Metallforum Metallbau GmbH. And here again, the new FLW fiber laser welding system excels in practical application. This was demonstrated during the construction of the first fifty stainless steel housings for input control systems. In this case, welding at the FLW system made it possible to save a total of approximately 100 working hours compared to conventional manufacturing using TIG welding methods. Löchel: “What is more, we are able to manufacture extremely quickly with practically no setup times and with outstandingly high quality, with the result that absolutely no time-consuming reworking is necessary.” At the same time, however, the system also permits the trouble-free welding of a range of materials such as brass, copper and stainless steel as well as highly tempered steels which can be used for a correspondingly large number of different components. Last but not least, the FLW fiber laser welding system also excels through its simple, intuitively designed control unit that guarantees safety at a highest grade and outstanding ease-of-operation for all users. And if there is ever a problem or malfunction, then the AMADA Support Team is there to help. As Löchel says: “Any questions we have, for example about the robot or the system itself, are answered quickly in a straightforward and solution-focused way.”
Sheet metal working from a single source
With the many advantages it brings, the FLW fiber laser welding system perfectly complements the sheet metal working operations at Metallforum Metallbau GmbH. A key role here is also played by AMADA’s software which runs on all the existing systems and ensures the automatic handling of even the most demanding component geometries. The manufacturing process starts with AMADA SheetWorks, the CAD software for 3D design work. The next stage is handled by the Dr. ABE Blank software for the fully-automatic generation of cutting data which is then implemented on one of the existing AMADA laser cutting machines The required bending data is created by the Dr. ABE Bend software and used as the basis for the operation of an AMADA HD-1003 press brake. Finally, the FLW-CAM software comes into its own and is used to control the FLW fiber laser welding system. As a result, the sheet metal working process chain at Metallforum Metallbau GmbH is optimally organized and permits uniform, comprehensive manufacturing services from a single supplier.
Investment with a long-term impact
“Of course, the purchase of an FLW fiber laser welding system is a major investment, but one that will pay for itself in the long run,” is the way Mathias Raulf, Sales Representative Northern Area at AMADA GmbH, sums things up. “For users, the technology is a unique selling point with which they can successfully pull ahead of their competitors and generate new orders.” And this is exactly the potential that has been identified at Metallforum Metallbau GmbH. Which is why the company has now gone on to order its next AMADA system in the form of a new FO-3015MII RI laser cutting machine. This all-rounder, which is equipped with a CO2 laser, stands for the high-performance cutting of sheets and pipes and excels through its unfailing precision irrespective of the type or thickness of the material. Compared to the predecessor model, which has been running successfully at Metallforum Metallbau GmbH since as early as 2010, the new system offers considerably improved overall performance with optimized workflows and many more possibilities for cutting sheets and pipes. Jens Löchel has no doubts: “The new laser cutting machine gives us an even higher level of vertical integration and further boosts our expertise in the production and solution fields.” The new system will start operation on site in late 2017.
Successfully positioned for the future
With the new FLW fiber laser cutting system, the soon-to-arrive FO-3015MII RI laser cutting machine and its many other AMADA machines, Metallforum Metallbau GmbH is excellently equipped to face the challenges of the present and the future. “We have put ourselves in a good position for the long term and will benefit from our investments both now and for long into the future,” is how Löchel assesses things. However, the central role in these successful developments is played not just by machine technology alone but also by humans. That is why Metallforum Metallbau GmbH also places value on a positive, supportive network of other AMADA users, partners and customers. Löchel: “I see great potential arising from further improving the networking of AMADA customers. In this way, it will be possible to bundle together capacities and skills in focused ways, for example to cope with manufacturing peaks or to solve new tasks – all of which ultimately again benefits the end customer.” Although this approach makes a vital contribution to the company’s success, the most important factor continues to be its own workforce. “Our employees are and will continue to be our most valuable asset,” is the firm conviction of the Managing Director.
Pictures: Franz Bischof