As an expert in industrial construction, a lot of steel is processed in Mathieu Gijbels' bending department. But to be competitive, you need modern and robust machinery. That was just one of the reasons why the industrial constructor turned to HACO for new machines.
At Mathieu Gijbels' bending department in Oudsbergen, things are very busy. "Several tonnes of steel are bent and processed here every day," says Jos Boonen, the manager of the bending department. "Most of these are used for our own sites and some for third parties. From here in Oudsbergen, they are then transported to our steel department in Meeuwen for further processing."
The press brakes are therefore heavily used. "Absolutely right. Our old folding bench has served us very well over the years but was actually used up. And so I wanted to invest in a new press brake. I contacted HACO because our old press brake, which we had been very satisfied with for years, also came from them. It seemed straightforward to do so."
However, the investment also had other reasons. "If you work with steel, you obviously need strong, robust machines. But bending work was becoming less and less feasible for our employees: dragging 3 mm thick, 188 kg steel plates every day does take its toll. So we often saw our employees drop out: back pain, wrist problems ... So you have to look for a suitable solution."
Another factor is efficiency. "Before, we always worked with a press brake and a manual shear. Most of the time this worked perfectly but you can never rule out human error. If an error occurred on a sheet, we often had to start all over again; you can't work efficiently like that.
To meet all the challenges, Mathieu Gijbels invested in a new press brake and, at the same time, a fibre laser cutting machine. "That way, we wanted to kill several birds with one stone," he says.
"Firstly, with the new press brake we are re-armed for the future; that was the most important thing after all. It allows us to process 3 mm sheets effortlessly - and for a long time."
On top of that, it immediately became clear that efficiency and work speed have skyrocketed. "The work is a lot faster, especially thanks to the fibre laser machine. Because the manual cutter has been replaced by an automatic machine, plates can be lasered correctly from a drawing and we always have correct plates. As a result, you are immediately in a better flow."
The necessary attention was paid to keeping that production flow optimal; implementing not one but two new machines is not always straightforward. "For those machines, we also invested in a 400 m² expansion of the production hall. In that new space, we then placed the new press brake and the laser cutting machine, where the so-called heavier work takes place.
"With the two machines, we now also have more control over our output. Machine operations are always consistent and so you have consistent quality. But because our laser machine can also go through sheets of 10 to 15 mm, we can now do thick sheets ourselves instead of outsourcing them. It saves time and costs and you also have much more control over your planning this way if you can do everything in-house."
More control also means more flexibility. "Being short on time has always been one of our strengths. We want to be able to deliver to customers within two days. Our customers also know that and want to play that card to the maximum as well. These new machines help enormously in this respect."
Naturally, employees also benefit. With the new fiber laser machine, which processes heavy sheets up to 15 mm thick, a lifting device was also installed. "A huge difference; now you only need one person to move the sheets without straining his back. It therefore ensures double profit: you save manpower that can be used elsewhere and you avoid downtime due to medical reasons."
With the implementation of the new machines, Mathieu Gijbels' bending department has become much more efficient, faster and ergonomic. "Because of the machines, we can now produce faster and have a bigger production margin. The matter now becomes to fill those margins with new customers to also increase our turnover."
Watch the video made at Mathieu Gijbels' below