After working in the sheet metal profiling industry for over 20 years, Mark Derbyshire admirably wanted to build his own family business to provide a better future for his young family. Starting with nothing but industry contacts and experience, Mr Derbyshire formed Made Profiles in March and only a matter of months later, the company is already exceeding its projections and expectations. This is largely credit to a management team that helped found the company - a management team that consists of a sales and CAD/production manager both having over 20 years of experience that has been integral in the early success.
When forming the company with limited finances, Mr Derbyshire needed a cutting table that would deliver reliability and first class service levels, first and foremost. The first point of call for the new business to achieve this, was Kerf Developments. As Managing Director of Wigan based Made Profiles, Mr Derbyshire comments: "As a start-up company buying our first machine, it was imperative that we bought a quality machine with outstanding service levels. This was because if the machine went down, the profit centre of the business would be on-stop. We reviewed the marketplace and the deciding factor was that I worked with Kerf machines in my previous post, so I knew their service and support was second-to-none."
Whilst Made Profiles set the bar high with its service and reliability expectations, another key factor was the ability of Kerf to manufacture a bespoke machine that fitted the needs of the subcontractor that services the offshore, automotive, rail, construction and bridge building industries. When specifying a cutting table, Made Profiles wanted flame cutting heads for profiling up to 250mm thick steel plates whilst simultaneously requiring high definition plasma cutting capabilities for high speed and high quality cutting of sheets below 25mm thick. Kerf duly obliged by manufacturing an RUM3500 machine with four flame cutting heads for simultaneously profiling multiple parts, plus one high definition plasma head for high speed cutting of thinner profiles.
However, Mr Derbyshire also had the industry nous to specify the Kerf RUM3500 with a particularly large 12 by 3m bed. As Mr Derbyshire continues: "I wanted a large bed machine for two reasons.
Firstly, it would allow us to cut very large profiles whilst also catering for small parts in larger batch sizes using the multiple heads. Most importantly, I wanted a large bed for flexibility and work flow purposes. For example, we are continually growing and the large bed enables us to prepare up to three jobs simultaneously on the machine. This allows us to set-up
at one end of the bed whilst an operator is cutting profiles at the other end. This reduces our set-up and lead times drastically and it improves our workflow through the shop-floor."
This workflow is of particular importance to Made Profiles. One of the founding principles of the business is to deliver quality profiles at lead-times the customer requires. As Mr Derbyshire says: "In general, the lead-times in steel profiling industry for small quantity volumes can be quite lengthy, so we aim to work to a lead time of 2-3 days for our customers. To consistently meet our target, the Kerf RUM3500 is running up to 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. Despite this non-stop running, the RUM3500 has been outstanding with no breakdowns or downtime, which justifies why we opted for Kerf."
The Next Step
The fast turnaround service at Made Profiles has enabled it to exceed its growth expectations in year one. The result of this growth is the imminent delivery of a second Kerf RUM3500 machine. As Mr Derbyshire continues: "Now we have been operational for a number of months, we have a better projection of what materials, thicknesses and profiles our customer require. Up to 75% of our year 1 work is precision steel profiles up to 25mm thick, so we have ordered a second RUM3500 with a single 275AMP plasma cutting head. The new machine will allow us to cut high quality profiles up to 40mm thick whereas the existing 150AMP head is limited at 25mm thicknesses."
Kerf will add the second RUM machine to the existing cutting table and at the same time extend it to 15m. This will effectively provide Made Profiles with the flexibility to manufacture components up to 15m or alternately use the bed as two individual 7.5m machines on a single platform.
As Mr Derbyshire concludes: "We are cutting anything from mild and stainless steel through to Hardox, Durbar and boiler plates and the new plasma head will improve our through-flow of work and enable us to maintain our benchmark in the industry as a supplier that can consistently meet short lead times. We have built our business on this philosophy and the support of our customers has been outstanding. With such exceptional support from our customers, we will continue to invest to exceed their expectations. Kerf has been, and undoubtedly will be instrumental in our future plans."
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.