West Wales Company is a Trailblazer With New Kerf Machine

Founded over 30 years ago in a small ‘shed’, CLH Trailers has grown into one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of trailers for the agricultural, fishing, marine, sport, leisure and farming industries. As the product range has grown, so has the factory, staff levels and investment in technology – with the latest addition to the plant list being a plasma cutting machine from Rochdale manufacturer Kerf Developments.

Located in the picturesque village of Saint Clears, between Camarthen and West Wales holiday hotspot Tenby, the 15 employee business manufactures hundreds of trailers every year; and with anything from 50 to 200+ components in each trailer, productivity and precision are critical for CLH Trailers. With a burning desire to keep moving the business forward, Managing Director Mr Chris Hussell and shop floor foreman of over 20 years, Mark Reynolds started looking at available options for cost savings and productivity enhancements.

Taking up the story, Mr Reynolds says: “First and foremost, we wanted to buy British. We looked for a viable option and we realised that laser cutting wasn’t suited to our business whereas plasma was a perfect fit. We found several vendors and we then spoke with customers for their testimonials. Out of the UK manufacturers, it was Kerf that had a reputation above all others. This reputation was backed by their customer approach and of course, the quality and productivity of their demonstrations. We were about to purchase a RUR 2500p plasma machine with a 4 by 2m bed – and then the pandemic hit. We initially put the order on hold, but as the lockdown continued and we retained a steady level of business, we realised that the potential benefits of the Kerf plasma would send our business on a forward trajectory, so we finalised the order during the pandemic and the machine was delivered in July.”

Primarily cutting black steel and aluminium in thicknesses from 1.5mm to 25mm, CLH Trailers specified the RUR2500p machine with the user friendly Burny 10 LCD CNC controller, the powerful 275amp Lincoln Spirit II 275 plasma unit and Lantek software to drive the high-definition UltraSharp cutting technology. Building a new factory unit specifically for the new Kerf machine, Managing Director, Chris Hussell says: “I wanted a machine with a robust build quality that is capable of running all day, every day. The Kerf machine certainly gives us that. The plasma unit can cut steel beyond 60mm thick, which is more than we need and the precision, repeatability and edge finishes are exceptional. We predict that the machine will pay for itself in less than 2 years.”

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Creating Savings Everywhere

Looking closer at how the new Kerf plasma will create such significant savings, Mr Reynolds continues: “As a business, we typically have 6 staff manufacturing parts to complete an average throughput of two trailers each day. The majority of parts require guillotining, notching, drilling, grinding, corner rounding, bending and welding before galvanising. Each of these processes can be slow and labour intensive; and with each subsequent operation, there is an increased opportunity for error and potential scrappage. With the Kerf machine, we can do many of these operations in a single set-up. Going forward, this will free-up at least two employees for other tasks. A labour saving of at least £40k is great; but equally important for a company in a rural area is that the plasma allows us to grow the business whilst re-distributing the highly skilled staff we have.”

Providing a practical example of savings, the mudguards on each trailer are processed in quantities of 6 to 8 from an 8 by 4ft sheet of 1.5mm thick black steel. “The batch of mudguards would take 10 minutes to cut on a guillotine, then another 10 minutes on our variable angle notching machine followed by another 10 minutes for marking and subsequent drilling with the final process before bending being the grinding and rounding of the corners, which takes another 5 minutes. If you add to this total of 35 minutes additional time to move the mudguards from machine to machine and position the parts in jigs, you’re looking at over 40 minutes. The Kerf plasma will profile and cut the holes in less than 10 minutes with far superior precision. Not only does the Kerf machine reduce our cycle times by more than 75%, but it also removes the opportunity for operator error, improves quality and consistency, eliminates hand finishing and frees-up capacity from existing machines.” 

“We’ve only had the Kerf machine a matter of weeks and it has already lightened the workload of our staff and our machines, streamlining our production. Our guillotine was working for over 4 hours a day, now it's only used for an hour a day.”

Design for Life

Manufacturing ATV, livestock, flatbed, beavertail, container, motorbike, boat, tipper, tilt-bed, signage, car transporter and camping trailers to name a few, each design can have beyond 200 components. At present, the Kerf high-definition plasma is only cutting 15-20 different components, something that will rapidly change, as Mark states: “Our designs and aesthetics were limited by our machine capabilities and also a limited appetite for innovative designs from the ‘function-first’ approach of the agricultural sector. The Kerf machine opens up a world of opportunity to re-design trailers for improved aesthetics, functionality, light-weighting and even the potential for reduced components and shorter assembly times. The mudguards are one component that we have already re-designed to improve the aesthetics, reduce material usage and weight, and also offer a wider range of shapes and sizes. This is the first demonstration of how we can move our designs forward to create a greater appeal among the consumer market.”  

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Another example of design for manufacture and aesthetics is the winch post for boat trailers. Previously manufactured from three pieces of 5mm thick steel that are each cut to size, punched, notched and then jigged for welding; each winch post takes 30 minutes to produce – a time only achieved when efficiently processing in batches of 20+. “The capabilities of the Kerf machine have allowed us to redesign the winch posts and these are now profiled with holes in less than 2 minutes with an additional minute for second-op bending,” continues Mark.

“We have also re-designed the hinge assemblies for loading gates on agricultural trailers. We produce over 40 of these thin long parts every month and they were cut and punched before welding two gudgeon pins to each hinge. The gudgeon pins were made externally, so by re-designing the hinge assemblies we have eliminated the requirement, cost and lead time of the gudgeon pins. Most importantly, the cycle time has been cut from six minutes per part to 30 seconds. The hinges are a perfect example of how the capabilities and precision of the Kerf machine has enabled us to redesign an existing part to eliminate subcontract costs, reduce cycle times, reduce material requirements and reduce the weight of the part. Additionally, I can set the RUR2500p to cut 40 hinges and leave the machine running to do other tasks. Essentially, the Kerf machine is giving me more time to be productive elsewhere and even look at other opportunities for the business.”

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Kerf Creates Opportunities

Looking to the future, CLH Trailers Managing Director, Chris says: “We have always undertaken an element of subcontract metalworking and fabrication, but now we can extend this significantly. The Kerf machine has only been here a short while and we are already doing decorative wrought iron fencing, cutting letters and signage and much more. The potential of the Kerf machine is huge. Equally significant are the savings. On top of the labour and cycle time savings, the reduced waste and added capacity throughout our facility has been hugely noticeable in a short period. But, one of the biggest savings for us will be on the material. We order 6 tonnes of sheet steel every month and an additional 4-5 tonnes of box section, up to 30% of this is wasted in off-cuts that are sent back for recycling.”

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“With the Kerf plasma we have already taken our material utilisation from 70% to 85% and the more familiar we become with the machine, the more material and costs we will save. This is a credit to the Lantek software and UltraSharp cutting technology that nests the parts in very close proximity to minimise waste. Furthermore, we can use off-cuts from larger parts to nest and produce small batches of smaller parts such as brackets, making sure we waste minimal amounts of material. With thanks to Kerf, we are very excited about the future of our business. It is great to see two UK manufacturers supporting each other, developing relationships and successfully rising to the challenge of the current economic climate,” concludes Chris.

Kerf Is Critical In Growth Strategy at BSK Engineering

When BSK Engineering opened its doors for business in 2001, the family owned subcontract manufacturer was primarily serving the architectural steel industry with the design and production of gates, railings, staircases and other innovative design structures. However, a change of direction in 2012 propelled the Dungannon Company onto a path of exponential growth; something that has been supported by plasma cutting machines from Rochdale based Kerf Developments Limited.

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For an area with relatively few quarries, the County Tyrone area in Ireland is home to around 70% of the world’s largest quarry plant manufacturing businesses. In the local area,   BSK Engineering was realising the quarry industry was absorbing all the skilled staff, making it difficult for BSK to employ skilled staff. Something that was restricting company growth. With a huge quarry industry on the doorstep and a pool of suitably talented engineers, the company changed its business model to generate growth. To implement the strategy to serve the quarry industry, it was essential that BSK Engineering invested in cutting technology. 

Commenting upon the 2012 arrival of its first Kerf plasma cutting machine, a 3m by 1.5m RUR2000P, BSK Engineering Managing Director, Mr Barry Kerr says: “When buying our first machine, we looked at three suppliers. We looked at what other local companies were buying, and they were all investing in Kerf. The feedback we had from local businesses regarding Kerf was extremely positive. One element that stood out was that Kerf Developments were the only supplier with locally based engineering support that could be on-site in a matter of hours to resolve any maintenance or service needs. This gave us the confidence to buy our first Kerf machine.”

The Explosive Growth 

With a 2000sq/ft factory area, the 3m by 1.5m Kerf RUR2000P was the only machine that would fit into the small three employee company. Purchased to undertake small component cutting for the quarry industry as well as structural steel parts for existing customers, the Kerf machine was initially the perfect fit. The first Kerf machine was 75% committed to structural steel work, cutting small parts through the nesting technique in quantities up to 150 out of a single sheet of 3m by 1m steel. However, the machine was soon at capacity – running 24 hours a day. Then came the growth!

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From 2012 to 2016, BSK Engineering was repeatedly turning away larger scale quarry work. The company opted to take the plunge and invest – expanding the facility from 2000sq/ft to 13,000sq/ft and installing its second Kerf machine in August 2017, the RUR3000P plasma cutting machine with a Lincoln Electric Spirit II 275amp UltraSharp plasma cutting system. The 8m by 2.5m bed machine provided the much needed capacity for cutting quarry parts such as 7m by 2m screen slides that are commonly produced. It also gave added capacity to take the company away from 24 hour shift production. However, this proved a short lived reality, as the company almost doubled turnover from £600,000 in 2015 to £1.1m in 2017. With two machines running 24 hours a day and operating at weekends, the company needed a third machine – and Kerf duly obliged.

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In August 2018 the third Kerf machine arrived, another 8m by 2.5m RUR3000P plasma cutting machine with a Lincoln Electric Spirit II 275amp UltraSharp plasma cutting system. “We bought the third Kerf machine to alleviate the capacity issue and once again move from 24 hour production to single shift manufacture. We have grown our staff from 3 to 15 and our turnover has almost quadrupled to £2m in just three years. It is the reliability and service of Kerf that has given us the confidence to grow whilst ensuring we can still meet the short lead-times of our customers. We can order parts or consumables from Kerf and we are guaranteed next day delivery; likewise an engineer can be with us very quickly – as Kerf appreciates how essential the machines are to meeting the needs of our customers.”

Kerf Is Critical In Growth Strategy

Identifying the competition in the area and why BSK Engineering has grown so rapidly, Mr Kerr says: “Most of our competitors have a 3 to 4 week lead time on parts, we deliver within 7 days. This is why we are winning more and more business from our rivals. Furthermore, the Kerf machines ensure we maintain a lower cost overhead when compared to our competitors.” 

Referring specifically to this point, Mr Kerr continues: “All the work we cut on the Kerf machines is steel plate between 2mm to 40mm thick with 70% of sheets over 10mm thick.  This is where we win out over our competitors. Competitors with expensive laser machines will be faster cutting plates up to 8mm, but anything above that and the Kerf machine is considerably faster than laser. Added to this, the purchase price and consumable price of the Kerf is considerably less than a laser, enabling us to be more price-competitive. When cutting plates above 10mm thick, many of our customers are finding our edge finish is equally as good as or sometimes better than that of laser. So, we can offer the same quality finish as laser cutting but with reduced costs, improved lead-times and a significantly better service. This means that customers previously buying parts from laser subcontract suppliers are now moving over to us and our Kerf UltraSharp plasma solution.”

In conclusion, Mr Kerr says: “We now have a very competitive business and this is largely built around the quality of our staff and the three Kerf machines. 60% of our work is relatively small and with the large bed machines, we can cut one 4m plate whilst another is being loaded. This pendulum loading method reduces our cycle times by 50% whilst we still have the facility for cutting large parts. This capacity helps us to maintain industry leading lead-times whilst the service and support from Kerf ensures we are always running. Kerf has been so reliable – the machines will run all day, every day. We couldn’t be happier with our machine supplier.”

Maximising the Opportunities of Waterjet

When engineer and innovator Alun Hobbs identified an opportunity to revolutionise butterfly valves over 12 years ago, his previous employer was reluctant to follow the opportunity. With a steely determination and belief in his design, Alun set-up Hobbs Valve to serve the demands of the offshore, power generation and general industrial application sectors. Engineered to perform, the patented triple offset butterfly valves from Hobbs Valve provide a more efficient, innovative, safe and cost effective solution that reduces downtimes and maintenance times and eliminates leaks for the end user. 

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Over a decade after the founding of the business, the seal designs that incorporate patented seat and seal technology to enhance reliability are the bedrock of Hobbs Valve success. This success has seen the Caerphilly entrepreneur expand the original business concept with Hobbs Valve now being part of the Great British Valve Group, which also encompasses Hobbs Precision Engineering, Cambrian Valves Ltd and HVG Techno. Founded as a subcontract machining business to primarily serve the production of valve components for Hobbs Valve, Hobbs Precision Engineering has recently invested in an Optima 320 twin head waterjet machine from Kerf Developments

The founding of the Hobbs Precision Engineering division was borne out of the necessity to reduce substantial subcontract machining costs for Hobbs Valves, creating an opportunity to manufacture valve components in-house. The South Wales Group has built upon its newly formed subcontract facility, adding waterjet to its machining capability with the arrival of the 3m by 2m Optima waterjet.

With three variants in the valve range that include lugged valves, double block & bleed valves and Cryo valves, Hobbs Valve manufactures, assembles and supplies more than 3000 triple offset butterfly valves every year. With more than 40 machined parts per valve and hundreds of variants, the machine shop has reduced average lead-times from 12 weeks to just 4 since it was founded. The Optima 320 twin head waterjet machine has further reduced these lead times since its recent introduction. The fast turnaround times on high-value niche market valves has won the company plaudits; with high-profile customers including leading names from industry such as Shell, BP, Ineos, BNFL ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Maersk, Amec and Total to name a few.

Why Invest in a Kerf Waterjet?

Identifying why the company opted for a waterjet machine, Hobbs Precision Engineering Machine Shop Manager, Mr Craig Llywellyn says: “We identified that we could produce over 1500 clamp ring parts in-house every year, something that would reduce our subcontract reliance, valve unit costs and improve overall production scheduling and lead-times - and waterjet was the only feasible option for our components. Laser or plasma cutting would introduce heat to our components and with complete certification, traceability and standardised conformity of all constituent valve parts from the steel mill through manufacturing to delivery; heat introduction would impact the properties and conformity of our parts. We investigated the options and the Kerf Optima 320 had the best build quality, software, productivity performance and value for our business.” 

Hobbs Valve  - July 2023

The clamp ring components are manufactured from aluminium bronze and a range of stainless steels that vary from 316 to super duplex with dimensions from 50 to 1200mm diameter in thicknesses from 4 to 12mm. “By brining production of clamp ring parts in-house, we have reduced our subcontracting costs by over £30,000 per year. Furthermore, we have gained greater control over our processes and quality whilst reducing our lead-time for these parts from 4 weeks to just 1 day. Triple offset butterfly valves are bespoke products that are not volume manufactured, so the ability to stock material and produce clamp rings when required gives us the flexibility and reaction time required for components that are produced in volumes from 1 to 10-off.”

Maximising the Opportunities of Waterjet

Already identifying £30,000 subcontract cost reductions through the Kerf Optima 320, Hobbs Precision Engineering has now applied the machine to the production of end plates for the butterfly valves. Manufactured from the same materials and quantity levels as the clamp rings, the in-house production of the 25mm to 100mm diameter end plates has reduced subcontracting costs by an additional £20,000 per annum.  

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“The Optima 320 twin head waterjet machine from Kerf Developments has reduced our subcontracting costs by over £50,000 a year on just two component types whilst slashing our lead-times and alleviating supply chain issues. We are achieving all this and the machine still has a long way to go before reaching capacity. We are now looking at other Hobbs Valve components that can be cut on the waterjet to contribute to further savings. Beyond that, we are also selling the waterjet capacity to create an additional profit centre for our business.  The Optima 320 is an extremely flexible machine that is capable of cutting materials up to 125mm thick whilst the 3m by 2m bed capacity offers a cutting envelope of 3m by 2m, which is perfect for our 1.2m diameter clamp rings. This capacity and flexibility of the Optima not only reduces internal costs and lead-times, it has become a self sufficient cost-centre and we are selling the capacity to fabrication and plating companies that require precision cutting and profiling of sheet materials.”

“The beauty of the Kerf Optima is that it is not limited to the steel and aluminium bronze that we’ve been cutting. It is capable of cutting just about any material within its dimensional capacity. We have even used the machine to produce 40mm thick foam in-lay cards for insertion in toolboxes to protect the tools in the respective boxes.”

As a machine shop manager with technology from a plethora of manufacturers, the service and support from Kerf has been exemplary. As Mr Llewellyn concludes: “The service from Kerf has been exceptional. The Optima machine has been extremely reliable and we’ve never had any major issues with it. We did have an issue one morning that required an engineer visit, Kerf sent an engineer to us on the same day and by the end of the same day, the machine was up and running again. Out of all the machines we have and the manufacturers we deal with, the Kerf service is far better than the service from anybody else.”

Kerf Enables Recycling Company to ‘Design for Manufacture’

As a UK manufacturer that exports globally, Ken Mills Engineering (KME) Ltd has come under increasing pressure from low cost foreign economies that are manufacturing cheaper and often inferior quality products. The pressure from foreign shores was alleviated when the manufacturer of material reclaimation systems, haylage packing systems, straw shredding and processing systems, balers and conveyors invested in an RUR2500p plasma cutting machine from Kerf Developments and an Amada 220 tonne press brake.

Prior to the installation of both machines, the Littleborough Company would buy steel box section and laser cut parts from external suppliers that would be internally fabricated, drilled and formed to complete standard and bespoke product lines. However, the high subcontract cutting costs, unreliable lead-times, inability to control the complete process and subsequent quality were key factors to the 50 employee business investing in the new machinery. 

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The two machines transformed the business, as KME Director, Mr Andy Mills recalls: “Our standard product lines were facing intense competition from Asian manufacturers, whilst our bespoke solutions were increasingly complicated to manufacture. The new machines instantly slashed our subcontract costs, labour requirements, streamlined our production and reduced our lead times as well as giving us the opportunity to design our products for manufacture. Essentially, the investment has given us a huge competitive edge over low cost foreign economies and customers will always see UK manufactured products as a premium brand.”

The Kerf RUR2500p plasma cutting machine was supplied with a 4 by 2m bed and a Lincoln Electric Spirit 150amp plasma unit. Capable of cutting material up to 20mm thick, the machine at the company on the Southern foothills of the Pennines was predominantly cutting stainless steel and mild steel sheets from 1 to 3mm thick. Recalling the arrival of the Kerf RUR2500p, Mr Mills continues: “We recognised a need for the machine and prior to installation we estimated 2-3 days use per week usage. Within a matter of weeks, we truly realised the potential of the Kerf machine and in no-time it was running up to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus during weekends. The ability to cut, chamfer and generate holes made many manual tasks obsolete. In the last few years, we have lost five staff through retirement and the productivity of the Kerf means that we didn’t need to replace these employees. In fact, we have become more productive than ever. The Kerf and Amada machines have improved our overall output as a business by at least 20%”

Taking the Kerf Benefits to Another Level

The Kerf RUR2500p proved a real game changer for KME, so the company recently upgraded by replacing the original machine with a new and larger RUR2500p. Replacing its predecessor, the new RUR2500p has an 8 by 2m bed and a more powerful and precise Lincoln Electric Spirit II plasma unit with the very latest Ultrasharp cutting technology.

Alluding to why the company replaced a machine that has delivered exceptional performance levels, Mr Mills continues: “Our components are primarily small to medium batches that are cut from single sheets, which rarely exceed the 4m bed length of the previous machine. We recognised that by increasing the bed length we could load one side of the machine whilst parts are being cut on the other end of the bed. This pendulum loading has effectively eliminated non-productive set-up times and reduced overall production times by an additional 50%.” 

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With customers ranging from small one-man businesses to large blue chip companies like Veolia, Sita, Biffa, Viridor, PHS, Coca-Cola and Kimberly Clark, quality and continuous improvement are key factors for KME. “The new Kerf RUR2500p has the very latest Ultrasharp cutting technology and this has improved the precision and surface finishes of the profiles and holes we cut. Additionally, there is less cleaning, no secondary hand finishing and there is less slag from the process.”

As well as offering precision levels in the +/-0.5mm range, the 275amp Lincoln Electric Spirit II plasma unit has the capacity to pierce and cut materials up to 35mm thick. Concluding on the benefits of the machine acquisitions, Mr Mills says: “The Kerf and Amada press brake combination is saving us upwards of £250,000 a year in subcontract costs. By purchasing more sheet material than the previous box section and also having complete control over the materials we need as well as integrating a design-for-manufacture ethos, we are saving an additional £150,000 a year in material. Added to this, there are fewer transport costs as we don’t deal with subcontractors.”

“From a customer perspective, our lead times for a machine have been cut from 8 weeks down to 4-6 weeks depending upon the customer specified machine. Furthermore, by implementing a design-for-manufacture philosophy, our machines are more aesthetically pleasing, more functional and also easier to use and maintain. For the customer, this gives a host of new reasons to buy machinery from KME. From our perspective, we have enhanced our brand, the product portfolio and we now have more unique selling points over our competitors,” concludes Mr Mills.

Kerf Takes Centre Stage

As the name suggests, Serious Stages Ltd is a manufacturer of festival stages, temporary buildings, towers, arches, sports ramps and bespoke structures for the entertainment industry – an industry that was all but decimated by the pandemic. Fortunately for the Wells based business, it found a new market sector that has exceeded all expectations, trebled growth and increased manufacturing demand. To fulfil this exponential rise in demand, the Somerset manufacturer has invested in an UltraSharp plasma cutting machine from Kerf Developments.

It was when the Glastonbury Pyramid stage tragically burnt down in 1984 that Steven Corfield, an employee of Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis spotted an opportunity to manufacture high-quality and safe structures and stages for festivals. From the ashes rose a business that has flourished ever since, becoming the UK’s leading manufacturer of festival and concert structures and the second largest in the world – installing more than 50 structures at Glastonbury each year. However,

Glastonbury and its iconic Pyramid stage are just one festival on the long list of more than 500 annual events covered by Serious Stages with the Download festival, BBC’s Big Weekend, Knebworth, Park Life, the Reading and Leeds Festivals, Proms in the Park and also stages for acts such as Queen, Ed Sheeran, Adele, Lionel Richie, Elton John and many others on the list. The company also exports structures to the Middle East and Australia among other countries.

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Unfortunately, Covid restricted business and the company served the cause by producing morgues for the NHS Nightingale hospitals. Simultaneously, the company had a couple of structures out on lease with film studios; and as the pandemic ebbed away, the movie industry picked back up and the phones didn’t stop ringing. Recalling this period, Serious Stages Fabrication Workshop Manager, Rob Watts says: “Before the pandemic, we were considering a laser or plasma machine, as we were subbing-out over £500,000 of laser cutting each year. The pandemic halted the decision process, but back in March 2021 the movie industry got back to production and we won a substantial order for the next Mission Impossible movie. This gave us the confidence to move forward. We looked at several options and then an industry contact suggested we spoke to Kerf. As a company with a complete range of plasma, waterjet and oxy-fuel cutting machines, Kerf recommended its RUR2500 UltraSharp plasma cutting machine with a Lincoln Electric Fineline 170 amp plasma cutting system.” 

At that time, Serious Stages was sending more than £500,000 of work out for laser cutting and the lead time was typically 3 to 5 weeks. With the 500+ annual structures requiring thousands of parts to be manufactured and shipped around the UK to complete a 150 to 180 tonne structure, the process is a logistical minefield. Serious Stages wanted to manage its inventory, reduce costs and cut lead times to less than a week whilst also having full control over the process. Kerf delivered the solution.

“We produce tens of thousands of cleats, fixtures, clamps and other components for our structures and they are all made from 3 to 20mm thick mild steel with a typical tolerance band of +/- 0.5 mm. Taking these factors into account, Craig Walsh from Kerf recommended the UltraSharp plasma machine over a laser and it is perfect for our business. It is running 10-11 hours a day and 6 hours a day on weekends. The surface and edge finish are comparable to laser-cut parts but more importantly, we have wiped out the long lead times and we can make parts immediately for our fabricating team to weld. Deadlines are critical to our business. You cannot be overdue on a festival – the structure has to be safely installed and assembled to the event deadline.”

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Looking at the attributes of the 4m by 2m Kerf RUR2500 machine, Rob continues: “The Fineline 170amp plasma unit gives us exceptional cut quality and we can comfortably cut material up to 50mm thick, even though we rarely go above 20mm. The cutting head is extremely efficient and we can conduct more than 3,000 piercings before we have to change the nozzle heads. Additionally, the Burny 10LCD control system is extremely easy to operate and if we have any issues, the Kerf engineers can remotely log into the machine to immediately resolve any technical issues. The Kerf support is the

best we have encountered from any machine supplier so far.” 

Design For Manufacture

With the installation of the Kerf RUR2500, Serious Stages has greater design freedom to develop new parts, enhance its existing portfolio of products and design parts for both manufacture and assembly. As Rob adds: “When we were subcontracting out laser cutting, our design freedom was limited. If our designers wanted to change a drawing, alter dimensions or move features – we would have to create a new drawing, send it to the subcontract supplier and wait for them to produce the part and send it to us. We could be waiting weeks for the part; and if the design change wasn’t feasible, we would have to start again. The time constraints on our business limited this exercise. Now, a designer can create a new CAD file, use the Lantek software to convert the DXF file to a CAM file and then fire it straight to the Kerf RUR2500.”

“We can edit existing programmes in minutes and create new part drawings and send them straight to the Kerf machine – giving our designers complete autonomy with production. This will enable us to expand our current capabilities and flexibility and as we re-design parts, we will see manufacturing and fabrication times throughout the facility reduced. This design freedom will also reduce construction time for our on-site building teams. One example that has already benefitted us is the design change to our railings. Where the on-site team had to bolt sections of railings together, now we have added location pins and each section can rapidly be dropped into place to connect with the next. This is just one area where we are already using design for assembly to speed up our construction phase.” 

The Movie Industry

With the company winning an order from the Mission Impossible franchise and orders rapidly coming in from other film studios, the subcontract laser cutting cost was rapidly heading from £500,000 to £750,000 which made the decision to invest in the Kerf machine more pertinent. Commenting upon this, Rob continues: “The movie studios were leasing buildings or temporary structures and the lead times could often be up to 12 months. In some instances, studios looking to use existing buildings would have to endure the laborious local authority planning application process. As soon as studios realised that we could design, manufacture, deliver and construct a temporary building in a matter of weeks and not months and then remove the structure upon completion of filming, the movie studios were intent on securing our services. We have just delivered a 20,000sq/ft Netflix building in less than 10 weeks. At the Shinfield studios in Reading, they had a 6-month head start on us and now we are 18 months ahead of their schedule – this is the speed of delivery we can now offer with the help of the Kerf RUR2500.”

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At present, the 150-employee business is producing two 150tonne 40,000sq/ft steel buildings for the Mission Impossible franchise and it is manufacturing two buildings for Walt Disney, another two for Netflix and also structures for the renowned Longcross studios. Recent projects also include Kenneth Branagh films such as Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express as well as Bohemian Rhapsody and Empire of Lights. 

Alluding to the movie industry work, Rob adds: “This industry was a very small percentage of our business and it has rapidly exploded to almost 80% of our turnover. We have rapidly gone from 4 fabricators to 18 and we are using more than 20 tonnes of welding wire a year. Without the Kerf RUR2500 plasma machine and a small bending machine we acquired, we wouldn’t be able to cope with the workload.”

“With previous subcontract laser cut parts, there was always an issue and this could be anything from burrs and sharp edges on parts, missing parts and incorrect batch supply, varying quality and precision of parts and more – now we have complete control of the process. Previously, our supplier would charge us £3 to cut and bend a steel cleat. Now, we can put a steel sheet on the Kerf and cut hundreds of cleats in a few hours and then bend them on our bending machine – the cost saving is huge and there is no 3 to 5-week lead time. If we are short of parts, need spares or extras, we can cut them in minutes.”

Concluding on the Kerf machine, Rob says: “We are delighted with the Kerf machine. From day one, the sales engineers were knowledgeable and interested in our business and applications and it wasn’t just about the sale. This duty-of-care has been carried through every step of the process and now the machine is installed, the service is unparalleled. From a production standpoint, the machine will pay back in less than 2 years and it will save us upward of £750,000 in subcontracting costs, It provides design freedom and efficiency and it reduces our turnaround times and creates a synergy between the design office and production – it really is a great machine.”

AJS Profiles Cuts 450mm Thick Steel With Kerf 'Monster Machine'

Continually maintaining a delivery lead time in the region of 2-3 days can be a daunting prospect for most manufacturers, but for Smethwick based AJS Profiles Ltd, it has become a promise that enables it to outperform its competitors. For anybody purchasing steel profiling services, long lead-times are often the norm and that's why AJS has become the envy of the industry with its capacity, capability and of course short turnaround times that have generated growth in the region of 45% over the last two years.

As one of the largest and most successful steel profiling companies in the UK, AJS Profiles has maintained its commitment to customer satisfaction by investing in the most productive and reliable plant. Over the last few years, this has seen the West Midlands company invest heavily in oxy-fuel and plasma cutting technology from Kerf Developments.

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Until the first Kerf machine acquisition in 2011, AJS Profiles had a 22,000sq/ft facility with cutting machines from a variety of vendors that were all selected on their merits. However, reliability and the consequent lack of support from some machine suppliers led to the purchase of a Kerf RUR3500G multi-head oxyfuel cutting machine. The productivity, training, ease of use through the Burny control unit and the support from Kerf, led to the installation of an RUR2500P high definition plasma machine just a

month later. 

Over a three year period, the build quality and productivity levels of the Kerf range has been second to none. This addition of Kerf machines and new staff has underpinned the phenomenal growth levels that took the company from its long-serving 22,000sq/ft facility into an additional 25,000 sq ft in May 2014. With new employees taking the staff numbers to 25 and an increased floor space, the subcontract supplier to the aerospace, nuclear, automotive, construction and rail industries has now embarked upon filling its remaining floor-space with more Kerf machines.

As AJS Profiles Ltd Director, Mr Neil Webb comments: "Bringing in new staff and increasing the plant list and capacity levels have generated huge growth and a lot of this was initially consumed by the third Kerf machine we bought last April, a RUR3500P high definition plasma machine with a 6m by 3m bed. As the order book filled, we wanted a machine that could rapidly cut the most common steel thicknesses from 3mm to 32mm. The performance of the RUR3500P theoretically absorbed the workload of two alternate oxy-fuel machines and gave us the capacity to maintain our lead times despite a huge influx of work. With the business enjoying growth, 2014 saw us purchase an additional three Kerf machines."

The glowing endorsement for the Kerf reliability and service was confirmed when AJS Profiles took delivery of a multi-head oxy-fuel cutting RUR3500G machine in October. In fact, the growth at AJS Profiles and its confidence in Kerf then noted the profiling specialist buy a second machine in October

2014 from the 2nd hand market, an RUM4000G multi-head oxy fuel machine. The final acquisition in November 2014 can only be described as a monster of a machine. The RUM3000G multi-head oxy-fuel machine has high powered cutting heads for efficiently cutting through steel profiles up to a staggering 500mm thick. The plant list at AJS now stands at 10 cutting machines (6 from Kerf) that is complemented by the UK's largest range of Lumsden Grinding MACHINES capable of processing diameters up to 3430mm.

AJS Profiles Cuts 450mm Thick Steel With Kerf 'Monster Machine' 16

Whilst the UK's largest range of Lumsden grinders is impressive, its undoubtedly the new Kerf RUM3000G that heats the enthusiasm and shop floor at AJS. As Mr Webb continues:

"The specification of the RUM3000G says it is capable of cutting up to 450mm thick material and we have already cut steel profiles at 330mm. It’s so powerful I wouldn't be surprised if it could cut plates over 600mm thick! Having this capability takes us into new markets that are far beyond that of our competitors."

To process such gigantic profiles, the Kerf RUM3000G is a bespoke solution that incorporates a cutting head from OXY-ARC that has been designed with gas inlet pipes that are 3 times thicker than standard to increase the flow of oxygen and propane. The machine gantry is armour plated to protect the cables and connections from heat. With the RUM3000G generating such heat, the machine also has air-conditioning units inside the gantry to dissipate the heat. 

Concluding upon  the rapidly expanding line of Kerf machines at AJS Profiles, Mr Webb says: "The broad range of Kerf cutting machines enable us to process steel profiles up to 10m by 3.4m with a thickness ranging from 3 to 450mm and probably beyond. The machines can accept payloads beyond 20 tonnes and it is this robust build quality, reliability, the modular ability to extend the bed sizes, the cut quality and above all the service that keeps us buying Kerf machines. We initially bought Kerf on a

promise of quality, reliability and support - the company has never let us down on these promises and this is key to AJS maintaining its reputation for rapid turnaround work."

Steel Manufacturer Benefits From the Latest Kerf Profiler

Evolving from a small blacksmiths to a 1.5 acre site, John Thorburn & Sons Ltd has grown beyond recognition during its 70 year history. The family run business that specialises in the construction, agriculture and commercial steel-working sectors has always invested in the latest technology to underpin its continuous growth. This investment has now seen the Scottish company invest in an UltraSharp plasma cutting machine from Rochdale based Kerf Developments.

Employing over 50 staff that operate a variety of turning and milling centres as well as punching, pressing, fabricating and guillotine equipment, the modern-day business primarily manufactures, fabricates and erects agricultural buildings and structures. To manufacture the numerous components that constitute a complete steel building structure, Duns based John Thorburn & Sons relied upon its guillotine, punching, steel working and fabricating equipment until the arrival of a Kerf RUR2500 plasma cutting machine.

Commenting on why the company bought the Kerf RUR2500, Managing Director Mr John Thorburn says: "We recognised that our method of cropping, punching and drilling plates was cumbersome, time consuming and slowing down our throughput. All our jobs had to be handled and re-worked on a variety of different machines to arrive at a finished part. Additionally, we had to stock a large range of steel bar widths and thicknesses and this was taking a lot of floor space. Kerf has instantly eliminated all of these issues."

Steel Manufacturer Benefits From the Latest Kerf Profiler 17

John Thorburn & Sons investigated the various options and it arrived at the conclusion that Kerf Developments had the most suitable solution for its needs. The Berwickshire business specified the RUR2500 with a 6m by 2m bed, so it could comfortably fit 4m by 2m by 20mm thick plate on the machine. This size cutting bed enables the company to use the nesting facility on the Kerf machine to cut up to 50 stanchion base plates in a single set­up.

Raising the Bar on Profitability

The stanchion base plates that are required in considerable batches for the assembly of agricultural buildings were previously cut from 400mm by 20mm thick steel bar that was 6,400mm long. By purchasing 4m by 2m by 20mm thick plates instead of bar, the company instantly reduced material costs by over 30%. In fact, Mr Thorburn has calculated the change from bar to plate has taken stanchion material costs from £15 to less than £10 per unit. Furthermore, the nesting software supplied with the RUR2500 machine enables John Thorburn & Sons to set up a plate and instantly cut a batch of parts, further maximising material utilisation and reducing costs.

"The material savings have been significant for us, but this is just a by-product of the Kerf plasma. We bought the machine to streamline productivity and it's certainly done that. Stanchion plates used to require manual cropping, punching and drilling. This prolonged process would require several machines and it was a full-time job for our staff. The production time used to be almost 20 minutes per plate; the Kerf plasma has reduced this to less than 2 minutes. That is a massive cycle time saving, which is enhanced by the fact that our staff can set the Kerf machine up and then carry-on with welding jobs."

Taking the setting up and nesting process a set further, the 6m bed enables John Thorburn & Sons to set up a range of plate sizes, meaning a complete inventory of parts for a project can be processed in a single set-up. The 275 amp machine is powered by the Lincoln Electric Spirit plasma unit and by utilising Kerf's Ultrasharp technology, the customer can cut profiles, holes and slots with impeccable precision levels and edge finishes.

Steel Manufacturer Benefits From the Latest Kerf Profiler 18

The ability of the Ultrasharp system to cut precision holes from the 20mm thick steel plates has cut cycle times on the end plates the company produces for steel building rafters. As Mr Thorburn recalls: "Some end plates would need up to 12 holes per plate with different location points and diameters. This would require each plate to be cut, have the first hole punched or drilled and then the second hole and so on. This process would see each plate handled multiple times, slowing the production cycle. Each plate used to take upwards of 30 minutes to produce, the Kerf RUR2500 now does each plate in less than 3 minutes. This means a batch of plates that would take 3 days to produce can now be made on the Kerf machine in a few hours."

As well as achieving the desired impact on production times and throughput, John Thorburn and Sons has also been making savings on its gas consumption. As Mr Thorburn continues: "We were using high volumes of oxygen and acetylene for manual fabrication work. This cost of £600 per month has been eliminated and whilst the Kerf plasma has consumable costs, they are nominal compared to what we were spending previously. "

Kerf Takes The Business Forward

As a result of acquiring the Kerf UltraSharp plasma machine, the Scottish company has streamlined production, reduced steel stockholding, freed machine tool and labour capacity and reduced material and consumable costs. As a result of releasing this extra capacity, the company has now started offering subcontract cutting services as well as targeting a wider variety of work in its core market segments. As Mr Thorburn continues: "We are now taking on work such as cattle handling parts, steel flanges, grain handling, cattle feeding systems and much more. The RUR2500 has made a huge difference to our business and as we move forward, the Kerf machine will propel us into new market segments with our new capabilities. We're delighted with the machine; it's done everything we wanted and much more."

John Thorburn & Sons - April 2021

About Kerf

Founded in 2001, Kerf Developments have grown over the years to become the leading supplier of profile cutting machines in the UK and Ireland.

The company was originally formed to provide a repair and support service for customers operating a range of profile cutting machines. These machines were varied in size and capabilities. From small magic-eye gas cutting machines through to automated plasma and high pressure waterjet cutting solutions.

As the company’s reputation for repairing and in some cases upgrading older machinery spread – predominantly through word of mouth, additional engineers were employed to provide additional cover for the UK and Ireland. 

It was a chance request from a customer who stated that his older machine had reached the end of its life and needed replacing that journeyed the Kerf team towards machine development. The customer asked Kerf and it’s engineers to design and build a new machine using their considerable experience of what were the “best” products available.

The first machine was built using a rail based design which helped to isolate delicate electronic systems from shock loading, particularly when loading and unloading large steel plates from the machine. The control system selected was from Burny which has proven itself to be very reliable in challenging industrial applications across the world.

Heavy duty downdraft cutting tables were selected and the plasma unit was a high definition system supplied by Hypertherm.

After the installation, news of the productivity and reliability that the new machine provided along with the quality and accuracy of the parts being cut spread, and further orders for similar machines came flooding in.

The simplistic design and choice of best in class products are still in use today with new machines utilising the current Burny control systems, INOVA electronic torch height controls, and with the latest best in class UltraSharp plasma systems supplied by Lincoln Electric.

The success of the company has been based on providing quality products at competitive prices and backing the equipment up with effective customer service and support be it for oxy-fuel, plasma or waterjet cutting technology.

If It's Not Burning, It's Not Earning!

To realise its ambitions of being the UK's leading independent profiling and processing company, the P.P. Group has consolidated its business interests by bringing its three manufacturing facilities in Salford, Gorton and St Helens, under one roof - a brand new 110,000sq/ft 6 acre site in Oldham. Moving to its new factory in 2017, the £9m investment included a 36m oxy-fuel and plasma cutting cell from Kerf Developments.

If It's Not Burning, It's Not Earning! 19

The significant investment is testament to the success of a business that has a 5% 'book debt' limit on its client base. By limiting and spreading the risk ratio of its client base, the company has continually evolved to a position that it is now profiling, processing, fabricating and welding beyond 12,000 tonnes of steel every year. To emphasise how central the Kerf RUM4500g oxy-fuel and RUM4500p high-definition plasma cutting machine has become to the strategy for continued growth; the machine is processing over 400 tonnes of steel each month. This equates to almost 40% of the material that passes through the doors of the 100 employee company.

Discussing the installation of the Kerf RUM4500 cell, P.P. Group Managing Director, Mr Peter McCabe says: "In our previous factories we had 9 by 4m plasma cutting machine for processing steel up to 40mm thick and a 22 by 5m flame cutting machine for materials up to 200mm thick. The machines were more than 10 years old, they were unreliable and this was compounded by poor service and support. Additionally, the machines were expensive to run, not particularly user friendly and the machine configuration didn't suit pendulum loading. We made the business decision not to bring the machines to the new factory. We looked at replacing them with a more efficient, productive, cost- effective and user friendly solution. Kerf Developments had exactly what we were looking for."

With plasma and flame cutting being central to business activities, getting the most suitable machine was critical. The bespoke production cell configuration selected by the P.P. Group was a 12m by 3.5m bed with an RUM4500p single gantry 400amp Lincoln Electric high definition plasma cutting head with UltraSharp cut technology and a 24m by 3.5m table with two RUM4500g gantries, each with four oxy-fuel flame cutting heads - all on a single platform. This single bed configuration has streamlined workflow and improved throughput whilst the 8 oxy-fuel heads have improved productivity by more than 35%.

"Since we installed the Kerf RUM4500 system, the cell has been operating 24 hours a day and 6 days a week, it is a major contributor to our growth. If it's not burning, it's not earning. Prior to the Kerf installation, we didn't have the confidence to sell our capacity as the old machines were inefficient, unreliable and the machine beds were too high. Our business has grown by 10% in the year since we moved to the new factory and the Kerf cutting cell is a major contributor to this growth."

If It's Not Burning, It's Not Earning! 20

The height of the bed on the previous machines made loading and unloading a challenge for staff. The Kerf RUM system has a larger bed than the previous two machines combined, and it is positioned at an ergonomically suitable height that makes loading and unloading convenient for operators. The large bed also allows the company to conduct pendulum cutting, this enables staff to load one plate or unload parts while the machine is cutting another plate. This immediately reduces processing times by 50%. The 12m bed section of the Kerf plasma machine was designed purely for pendulum cutting, as carbon steel plates are supplied in 6m lengths as standard.

"The Kerf system has reduced cycle times by 50% due to the facility for pendulum cutting. The Burny 10 LCD CNC control unit is very easy to use and it makes programming profiles fast and efficient. The kinematics of the Kerf machine combined with the Burny 10 control and the Ultrasharp cutting technology enables us to nest our parts with precision and proximity that wasn't previously feasible. This is reducing our waste material and allowing us to cut more parts from each plate."

"The Ultrasharp technology has also improved surface finishes on cut profiles and this has drastically reduced hand finishing operations. One operator would previously be spending 4-5 hours a day hand finishing parts and this is no longer necessary. Added to this saving, the efficiency of the Kerf machine has reduced our consumable consumption by at least 30%. We cannot praise Kerf highly enough. The service has been exceptional and we have the confidence in the machine and the Kerf support to build our profiling capacity around this machine. The Kerf RUM4500 cell has delivered productivity gains, throughput efficiency, labour and consumable savings and cost reductions. We couldn't ask for anything more from an equipment supplier."            PP Group January 2021

About Kerf

Founded in 2001, Kerf Developments have grown over the years to become the leading supplier of profile cutting machines in the UK and Ireland.

The company was originally formed to provide a repair and support service for customers operating a range of profile cutting machines. These machines were varied in size and capabilities. From small magic-eye gas cutting machines through to automated plasma and high pressure waterjet cutting solutions.

As the company’s reputation for repairing and in some cases upgrading older machinery spread – predominantly through word of mouth, additional engineers were employed to provide additional cover for the UK and Ireland. 

It was a chance request from a customer who stated that his older machine had reached the end of its life and needed replacing that journeyed the Kerf team towards machine development. The customer asked Kerf and it’s engineers to design and build a new machine using their considerable experience of what were the “best” products available.

The first machine was built using a rail based design which helped to isolate delicate electronic systems from shock loading, particularly when loading and unloading large steel plates from the machine. The control system selected was from Burny which has proven itself to be very reliable in challenging industrial applications across the world.

Heavy duty downdraft cutting tables were selected and the plasma unit was a high definition system supplied by Hypertherm.

After the installation, news of the productivity and reliability that the new machine provided along with the quality and accuracy of the parts being cut spread, and further orders for similar machines came flooding in.

The simplistic design and choice of best in class products are still in use today with new machines utilising the current Burny control systems, INOVA electronic torch height controls, and with the latest best in class UltraSharp plasma systems supplied by Lincoln Electric.

The success of the company has been based on providing quality products at competitive prices and backing the equipment up with effective customer service and support be it for oxy-fuel, plasma or waterjet cutting technology.

Irish Manufacturer Cuts Bottlenecks & Costs With a Kerf Plasma Machine

As a general welding and fabrication subcontractor, Clonakilty Engineering Ltd was finding that its growth potential was being held back by the lead-times of its supply chain. To eradicate the lengthy lead-times and costs of using subcontract laser cutting services, the County Cork based manufacturer has invested in an RUR2000p high definition plasma cutting machine from Kerf Developments.

Founded in 1989, the Irish subcontract company has witnessed steady growth since its inception, working with high profile companies such as Intel, Pfizer and ABP foods to name a few. However, when the company moved from its long term 3,000sq/ft facility to a new 10,000sq/ft factory in 2011, its ambition for growth had evolved. As Clonakilty Engineering's Workshop Manager, Mr David Guest recalls: "When we moved to our new factory, we realised we had the space to acquire a laser cutting machine. However, the level of business as we came off the recession couldn't justify the investment. We have steadily grown by 10% year on year since the downturn, this prompted us to investigate the laser cutting market."

Irish Manufacturer Cuts Bottlenecks & Costs With a Kerf Plasma Machine 21

The company didn't have the facility to laser cut its material in­house and this caused considerable bottlenecks in its workflow. By subcontracting out its laser cutting of stainless and mild steel sheets from 3 to 25mm thick, the lead times for the Irish company were extended by up to 4 days, which wasn't feasible for many customers. The manufacturer of steel components for the construction, medical, science, agricultural, food and pharmaceutical sectors investigated the laser cutting market and immediately took a liking to the Kerf brand of machines.

Changing Perception

As Clonakilty previously relied on its subcontractor for laser cutting, the company had little experience of the process. By speaking to Kerf, the Rochdale based cutting specialist; both parties identified the high cost of laser machines and that Kerf's high definition plasma range of machines could deliver precision and cut quality similar to that of a CNC laser cutting machine at a much lower cost. As Mr Guest continues: "I was of the perception that we needed an expensive CNC laser cutting machine. I explained our type of work to the Kerf engineers and they suggested a demonstration on a lower-cost plasma cutting machine. I was really surprised by the +/- 0.25mm precision level, speed and cut quality of the Kaliburn high definition plasma unit on the Kerf RUR2000p machine. We instantly made our decision to invest." For 14 employee Clonakilty, business would never be the same again...

The Benefits Delivered By The Kerf Plasma...

The immediate benefit was that Clonakilty eliminated the bottleneck created by sending steel sheets to its laser cutting subcontractor.

Irish Manufacturer Cuts Bottlenecks & Costs With a Kerf Plasma Machine 22

Turnaround times with the external supplier fell from 4-5 days and the company now sets its jobs up almost as soon as they cothe profiles internally has instantly eliminated the monthly cost of subcontract cutting.

By cutting its own steel profiles, Clonakilty is also cashing-in on the return from its steel scrap, which its subcontract supplier was previously sending for disposal. At the current scrap rate of €130 Euros per tonne, the business is generating an additional return of €700 to €1000 Euros each month.

Furthermore, by utilising the Kerf nesting software within the Burny 10 LCD control unit, the company is processing more parts from each steel sheet. As Mr Guest continues: "The financial, material and time savings have been phenomenal. We can utilise all our remnants from larger jobs and use them to produce small jobs and this is cutting our waste material whilst maximising our profitability. At present, we are producing a 2m diameter flange and an 80mm square bracket in batches of beyond 500, so our workload and material usage is very diverse. Being able to control this internally is making a huge saving. Furthermore, I am really surprised by the low running costs of the Kerf machine. We've made over 50,000 piercings and use the machine almost all day every day - and the cost of consumables and running the machine are both remarkably low."

Moving Forward With Kerf

When Clonakilty specified the Kerf RUR2000p, it wanted a machine table to suit its requirement to manufacture 4m long steel staircases. So, Kerf duly obliged with a 4.5 by 1.5m bed on the machine. This also enables Clonakilty to place more sheets and respective components on the machine, which is helping it to further increase its eye watering turnaround times. What it also provides, is the facility to expand the scope of the work taken on by the subcontract company. As Mr Guest says: "Our business has gone from a steady 10% year on year growth to over 30% since having the Kerf machine. The majority of this business is attributed to our acquisition of the Kerf RUR2000p. We have been able to increase the complexity and intricacy of our work when required; and this has stopped us from turning work away on the grounds that it previously had an unfeasible lead time or the margin was too small. In fact, the Kerf machine now sees us providing a subcontract cutting service to new and existing customers as well as enabling us to profile all our parts."

"The results have been really impressive. Moreover, the service, support and friendly approach of Kerf means that when we eventually need another machine, Kerf will be our first port of call," concludes Mr Guest.

About Kerf

Founded in 2001, Kerf Developments have grown over the years to become the leading supplier of profile cutting machines in the UK and Ireland.

The company was originally formed to provide a repair and support service for customers operating a range of profile cutting machines. These machines were varied in size and capabilities. From small magic-eye gas cutting machines through to automated plasma and high pressure waterjet cutting solutions.

As the company’s reputation for repairing and in some cases upgrading older machinery spread – predominantly through word of mouth, additional engineers were employed to provide additional cover for the UK and Ireland. 

It was a chance request from a customer who stated that his older machine had reached the end of its life and needed replacing that journeyed the Kerf team towards machine development. The customer asked Kerf and it’s engineers to design and build a new machine using their considerable experience of what were the “best” products available.

The first machine was built using a rail based design which helped to isolate delicate electronic systems from shock loading, particularly when loading and unloading large steel plates from the machine. The control system selected was from Burny which has proven itself to be very reliable in challenging industrial applications across the world.

Heavy duty downdraft cutting tables were selected and the plasma unit was a high definition system supplied by Hypertherm.

After the installation, news of the productivity and reliability that the new machine provided along with the quality and accuracy of the parts being cut spread, and further orders for similar machines came flooding in.

The simplistic design and choice of best in class products are still in use today with new machines utilising the current Burny control systems, INOVA electronic torch height controls, and with the latest best in class UltraSharp plasma systems supplied by Lincoln Electric.

The success of the company has been based on providing quality products at competitive prices and backing the equipment up with effective customer service and support be it for oxy-fuel, plasma or waterjet cutting technology.