At the end of last year, WWD Metaal from Nederweert took a new tube laser into use. It is now the first company in the Netherlands to purchase a Timesavers 22 RB series rotary brush machine. Owner Waelbers let his company grow, even during the corona crisis. “We look further ahead. No longer busy with tomorrow, but with next week.”
Wil Waelbers walks through the large hall of his factory in Nederweert. A few people are working on making frames. His company is relatively young: 21 years old. Waelbers founded his company in 1999 in an old barn in a farmer’s yard. In the past two decades, WWD Metaal has grown to its current size: thirty employees (including seven in the business office), 3,150 m2 of surface area and a production capacity of more than 50,000 hours per year.
WWD Metaal mainly processes stainless steel and aluminium in the broadest sense of the word: machining, glass bead blasting, water jet cutting (2D and 3D), tube and plate welding, robotic welding, (certified) welding and, since this year, even manual laser welding. The company supplies the food industry, machine construction, medical sector and various mechanical applications in a wide range of industries. In addition, it produces customised design articles. The ‘design’ is also the explanation of the third letter in the company name: WWD stands for Wil Waelbers Design.
Products without burr
WWD Metaal is a relevant player in the manufacture of frames that serve as the basis for customers’ machines. Especially in the food and medical sectors, it is crucial to work with stainless steel and to be able to deliver burr-free. Every unevenness can be the cause of contamination of Waelbers’ customers’ products.
“We have to think along with our customers. That means that we have to find solutions together with the customers, while not losing sight of the economic aspect,” he says. Because price always plays a role, and WWD can offer good quality at a price that is in line with the market, precisely because it pays a lot of attention to its own processes.
“When you start an assignment, you get to look at the way your customer has set up his business. We take a look at the way they are set up and together we find out how we can make things run even more efficiently. Which order is best? Where are the possible obstacles? Helping a customer starts with looking and listening.”
This attention to our own processes is also a must to be able to compete in this day and age. WWD therefore invests, even when the economy is tough in the Netherlands. During the previous crisis in 2014, Waelbers had a new building built that was three times the size of the previous one. He invested in the machinery by purchasing, among other things, a blast cabinet and a water jet. WWD Metaal therefore had the space, the machines and the knowledge to be able to offer a total concept when the economy picked up. Thus, the investments had helped.
A second improvement to his own process is through better planning. “It is difficult to get skilled workers, because everyone is looking for them. So we looked for a new approach. Instead of trying to speed up the process, we started to make it smarter. For example, by looking further ahead. No longer thinking about tomorrow, but about next week.
Process optimisation with a deburring machine
In the past, a product that was processed in one department would sit for too long before being processed again in another department. Because the flow of work in the departments has improved, employees ask for work sooner. They can therefore move on to the next product sooner, which means that more work can be generated. Waiting times are shortened and rush orders or firefighting are now a thing of the past. In the past, orders would pile up in every department and rush jobs would result in a lot of overtime.
Chosen Timesavers compact deburring machine 22 RB series
Even now WWD Metaal is investing. At the end of last year, the company bought a tube laser from Bystronic. This was intended to speed up the production process of the frames. Now Waelbers has purchased the Timesavers 22 RB series. It is a new step in a better process at WWD Metaal, says Waelbers. The 22 RB series is a compact dry machine for deburring, edge rounding, finishing and removing laser oxide from sheet metal. The machine offers a solution for companies that do not have large capacity needs, but still want to have the commonly used features of the 32 RB and 42 RB series. Customers with limited production demand and budget can still use it to optimally deburr, round and finish parts. The 22 RB series can cost-effectively automate heavy-duty tasks such as grinding and manual edge routing, helping to optimise processes. Thanks to the Siemens PLC and HMI, the process and parameters can be adjusted automatically. In addition, the 22 RB series supports the use of cobots and can be integrated into a Smart Industry software platform.
WWD Metaal deliberately chose a small machine. “Our customers are mostly small and medium-sized enterprises in the central Netherlands. They come with smaller products and smaller series. A machine that is too large would not fit. For that matter, the size also plays a role. If you set up a line like us, it is also important that you can manage it spatially. Now the Timesavers is in line with the laser cutter. Completely efficient.”
“This new development by Timesavers provides a more compact machine, but with the performance of a ‘big boy’. We see that the quality is high. It has to be, because we have to make finishes that are perfect. The user in the food industry cannot damage his hands. That is a hard requirement. With this concept of Timesavers with the rotating brushes, the product is perfectly finished.”
Again, Waelbers cites the bigger picture. “In the overall picture, it is very important that our people do not have to work with a grinder or file.” For a good flow, pieces must be completely deburred. The work process at WWD is structured in such a way that the laser is controlled by the work planner. The software takes care of the nesting. The operator then places the plates on the laser. After picking, the journey continues through the Timesavers deburring machine. Each product passes ‘through the Timesaver’ to be deburred.
“We have had this machine for three months now and it is helping us enormously in the flow. Before, we sometimes found out at the end of production that a product had not been deburred well enough. That caused delays in the line. That is history.”