Meijer Metal in Sint Jacobiparochie in Friesland will celebrate its centenary in two years. Yet despite its age, this specialist in sheet metal and pipe processing is exceptionally modern and forward thinking. Its machine fleet boasts no fewer than ten SafanDarley machines, including three new E-Brake Ultra press brakes. Production Manager, Reinder Hoekstra comments: “SafanDarley’s operating model is aligned to our precise needs and requirements.”
Meijer Metal is situated behind a dike in northern Friesland. The company is part of the Meijer Group, explains Hoekstra. “Approximately 130 people work at Meijer Metal and 50 at Meijer Handling Solutions. The latter division manufactures telescopic forks for forklifts and is continuously developing new products for logistics applications. Both companies are mutually supportive.” A year and a half ago, the structure at Meijer Metal was changed to accommodate the growth of both companies. “We were keen to shorten lead times, implement improvements and continue developing our people. Yet our rapid growth resulted in constant firefighting, which incentivised us to explore new operating models. We intend to make increasing use of multifunctional teams. We are currently in the process of implementing Quick Response Manufacturing so that we can cut order lead times to a minimum. That suits us and our customers.”Back to the overview
The development is still in full swing. “We’ve created various teams, each with their own coordinators. These teams can view their own work schedules in a digital format. They enter the work distribution and method themselves. If they can demonstrate that they’re able to handle the responsibility, they are given complete freedom. The new method is working well.”
There were questions in the beginning, admits Hoekstra. “But things are now improving. Production manager Peter van Dijk and I coach the teams. We facilitate and empower people. We’re striving for multifunctional teams that can manufacture an entire product, from start to finish. We are currently in discussion with the teams, in order to explore how to optimally structure the plant accordingly. In the past, everything at Meijer was determined in the office. Now the teams are central. The divide between office and shop floor must be bridged. Ideally, we’d also like to add a work planner to each team, in order to reduce lead times still further.”
Meijer Metal recently made a substantial replacement investment. “We replaced three of our press brakes with three new models. We were experiencing a shortfall in terms of capacity and tonnage. That’s why we submitted our requirements and wish list for the three new press brakes to several parties,” says Hoekstra. “From the point of view of Quick Response Manufacturing and sustainability, SafanDarley’s E-Brakes were the best match. Their electric drive is not only sustainable, it also benefits from noiseless operation. Moreover, SafanDarley is a Dutch company that’s compatible with Meijer in terms of ethos and approach. If you’ve got a question, all you need do is pick up the phone to receive expert, on-the-spot advice.”
Meijer and SafanDarley have consequently enjoyed a long-term collaboration. The warehouses on Oudebildtdijk house ten SafanDarley machines: various EHP press brakes and E-Brakes, including the three, brand new E-Brake Ultras. Hoekstra asserts: “These electrically driven press brakes enable us to expedite the manufacture of high-quality products. And their user-friendly control system makes these new machines a pleasure to work with.”
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In addition to the press brakes, Meijer Metal has also invested in SafanDarley’s Autopol GT offline software. This enables them to write press brake press programs on standard computers and display 3D product simulations on the press brake’s touch screen, guaranteeing improved quality. “It’s a superb visual tool that’s perfectly attuned to how a setter thinks. The guys on the press brake can view precisely what needs to be made on a single screen. This works extremely well in practice and is exceptionally user-friendly,” says Hoekstra.
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The production manager expects this to lead to quality improvements. “You can view the finished product on-screen in full detail. This enables you to consistently and correctly position the product, using the right tools. For us, quality comes first. Delivery reliability is also extremely important. And, thanks to the new software, we can now achieve shorter lead times. We operate in a high-mix low-volume market and consequently wish to ensure the rapid delivery of premium, high quality products that are tailored to our customers’ precise requirements. SafanDarley enables us to do just that.”
During BlechExpo 2019 in Stuttgart, SafanDarley will present a complete programme of solutions with respect to sheet metal working. As the inventor of the electronic press brake, SafanDarley will also showcase the very first E-Brake from 1995. How has the E-Brake helped to create an efficient working environment? Find out during BlechExpo.