Metal Processes Ltd. (MPL) of Bloxwich, UK, has purchased a ByAutonom CO2 laser cutting machine to complement their existing fiber laser system.
MPL’s demanding clients are clustered around it in the British Midlands, where the Industrial Revolution began. But the company can meet these demands, through a strong focus on quality. John Hayward leads the company.
Mr. Hayward, how did you start MPL?
I founded the company in September 1994, after my son invited me to America, where he was working in computer programming, and wanted to show me what was then the new technique of laser cutting.
What sort of a market is MPL in?
We supply to a wide range of customers, including the automotive industry, security, construction, and aerospace. Our base is in Bloxwich, which is in the center of the Black Country – the birthplace of engineering. 90 percent of our customers are within a 60 mile (100 km) radius from here. The market is very competitive. When we first started, there were five companies offering laser cutting within this same radius. Now there are over 100 here, and more than 700 across the UK. The need demand for laser cutting has grown steadily, with customers increasingly willing to outsource such work.
How does MPL distinguish itself from competitors?
We produce high-quality products. We never get complaints about surface defects on exit holes, for example. We are also very flexible, accepting orders that may be large or small in scale from either repeat or less experienced customers. This means that we sometimes have to assist clients with design, and may also need to adjust the standard parameters. Quality for us also includes full traceability of products – which is important for aerospace, for example – and delivery on time, every time. At the same time, of course, our prices must remain competitive.
Why did you buy a ByAutonom CO 2 laser cutting system?
We had our 6 kilowatt ByAutonom delivered in January 2016, as an important complement to our BySprint Fiber cutting system. We can produce mild steel better on the ByAutonom than on the BySprint Fiber over certain thicknesses, and enjoy the cost advantage of oxygen in place of nitrogen. The fiber cutting machine has a speed advantage with stainless steel. So together, the two systems give us great versatility.
To what extent is the system’s software interface important?
A interface that is usable and flexible allows our setter-operators to develop autonomy and responsibility for their jobs, letting them make adjustments themselves whenever necessary. We want all of our staff to reach their full potential. Another important aspect to the software is having the same user interface for both laser cutting machines, which assists with training and efficiency. Several of our CAD staff are also trained with the software and so can step in to operate the machines if needed. At the same time, we have also had operators graduate from Bystronic software to the CAD department.
What do you particularly like about the ByAutonom?
The ByAutonom is a good machine for our industry for several reasons. Bystronic’s interface is an easy and usable product, and parameter adjustments are easy for an operator to make. The machine offers innovative features, such as the automatic change between three differently sized heads. Overall, the ByAutonom is safe and reliable. It can cope with thin work, high volume work, and thick work – always producing a consistent product.
And what is it like dealing with Bystronic?
Bystronic is a good company to deal with. The staff there give you their undivided attention when you ask for it, which is exactly the approach we provide to our own customers. The company also offers good engineers when needed on a same-day/next-day basis. But most issues can be resolved directly between our operators and Bystronic’s 24-hour helpline – which is useful given that we are a 24-hour business ourselves. We have full confidence in Bystronic’s support. I can sleep easily at night.