Close cooperation of Voortman Steel Machinery and Tekla – Outcome of the webinar

Leach Structural Steelwork optimizes steel fabrication with Voortman Steel Machinery: “We believe the benefits of the automation, both technically and the machines, will allow us to operate with minimal personnel, with maximum output from the machine lines.” — Eric Leach, Managing Director of Leach Structural Steelwork.

Leach Structural Steelwork

Leach Structural Steelwork is a Preston, Lancashire, UK based structural steel fabrication company that specializes in commercial projects, factories, warehouses, and production facilities. Typical projects range from a hundred tons to two thousand tons.

Eric Leach, the Managing Director of Leach Structural Steelwork supervises all the operations, with a particular interest in the technical and production aspects of the projects. For steel fabrication and plate processing Leach chose Voortman Steel Group for its partner. “Voortman is a globally recognized manufacturer for steel fabrication machinery as well as a supplier for the plate processing related industries. They continually develop their equipment range to keep at the forefront of technology,” he continues.

Indeed, Eric Leach says that they chose Voortman because of our level of automation and technical ability of the machines. "They have high regard for service and customer backup and they implement new ideas very quickly.

The benefits, we believe, from using Tekla and Voortman together is that the flow of information is very dynamic, very accurate, and takes very little effort from a manual point of view. Most of the operations are quite concise, and we can achieve transfer of large amounts of data with minimal effort.” - Eric Leach.

Evolving business environment

Structural steel industry has evolved significantly in recent years in technical and production aspects. Evolvements include cloud-based technical aspects and the automation of the production machinery.

With his 25 year experience in steel, Eric Leach further predicts that major developments in the next three years will include cloud, BIM and automation, real-time publishing and collection of information and feedback from all aspects of the fabrication cycle.

Currently, challenges in the industry lie in the resourcing including technical staff and the supervision and management positions. With developments in technology and challenges in resourcing, how does a director make perceptive decisions about acquiring technology?

We evaluate and adopt technologies that give us the ability to make the most potential from the people we already employ, by making the most gains with the least effort,” summarizes Eric Leach. For example, Leach has installed Voortman machinery in all their fabrication processes. “The Voortman system is operated by a VACAM program control, which we feed directly with NC data and outputs from the Tekla model. This includes layout marking which operates very satisfactorily, and provides reliable information to the beam layouts”.

Our VACAM operating software keeps track of every part. It knows where each part is in the process without any human intervention. “When a part enters the system you literally can forget about it until it comes out from the outfeed transfers,” explains Pieter van Grol, Sales Manager.

One recent thing on our main beam line is that we are able to program the stock directly to the input beds from the operator, which ties up the order of which parts are processed,” Leach mentions.

Tekla and Voortman in practice

The benefits from using Tekla and Voortman together makes the flow of information very dynamic, very accurate, and takes very little manual effort. Most of the operations are quite concise and we can achieve transfer of large amounts of data with minimal effort,” concludes Leach.

Transferring the model information from Tekla software to Voortman machines
We compile the production data for the Voortman machines via filtering methods in the Tekla model, which is then attributed to individual parts. When the data is transferred to the VACAM software, it is able to recognize which machines in the line can complete which operations. This flows directly from the VACAM modules, which is programmed in the office environment,” says Leach. “The Tekla information is transferred to Voortman machinery via the NC facilities of Tekla.

Monitoring production status
Work flow is monitored via feedback from VACAM modules, which feeds back into the MIS system, which is done on a real-time basis, so the actual status of the parts from VACAM is reflected accurately back to the MIS system.

All in all, the benefits from using Tekla and Voortman together is that the flow of information is very dynamic, very accurate, and takes very little effort from a manual point of view.” - Eric Leach.

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