Only recently, we brought you news of a full factory installation at Premier Forest Products’ Merlwood Timber site in Haverfordwest and now, Welshpool-based Morland Profiles has taken delivery of a fully-equipped Weinig Powermat 1500 as part of a £1.2m capital expenditure program.
It begs the question, what is it that’s making the Powermat 1500 the go-to moulder for medium and large-scale producers like these? We put this question and more to Robin Hawkins, Operations Director at Morland Profiles.
“Morland manufacture timber based fit-out products ideally suited for use in construction, modular buildings, caravans, boat building and much more,” explains Robin. “We produce laminated panels, lightweight panels, plywood and laminated wood – any colour you want – as well as skirting, architrave and mouldings for leisure and construction. These elements can then be combined into kits for specific sectors, such as certified fire door sets or lightweight door sets. What makes Moorland Profiles unique is that you don’t have to order a thousand units at a time. A customer can go on our website, order a single board and have it delivered.”
Coupled with increased demand for Morland doors, it’s this pick and pack service that has resulted in the company needing to adapt its approach to manufacturing. “It’s a growing part of our business. Our batch sizes have got a lot smaller and have become on demand products. We needed a moulder that could keep up with our flexible and fast offering and future proof our business in other ways, too.”
Robin explains, “We have the same problem as everyone else in our industry: a lack of skilled labour. Finding people who can set using shims and spanners is difficult. Weinig’s software allows us to build up a library of files that can be sent directly to the machine. This means we are less reliant on operator skills and because everything is held as data, we can call up any profile and be in production much quicker. If an operator leaves, it’s easy for a new one to take over without time-intensive training.”
The Powermat 1500 is a remarkably versatile and adaptable moulder. Equipped with Weinig’s Comfort Set operating concept, all set-up is performed wrench-free or with the assistance of just a couple of tools, resulting in fast set-up times. Powerlock toolholders make for faster, safer tool changes, while PowerCom Plus profile and data management software means as many as 10,000 profile data sets can be calculated, saved and recalled at the touch of a button.
“We now produce over 4,000 different profiles,” confirms Robin. “Some are easy but it’s on the really difficult ones, which tend to be the smaller batches, that we’ve really seen the benefit. I would guess our set-up time on these has been reduced by something like 60%.”
The tool arrangement on the Powermat 1500-026 can include up to 10 spindles ranging in power from 11kW to 30kW – two horizontal top spindles, two horizontal bottom spindles, two vertical right spindles and two vertical left spindles. All provide variable speeds between 4,000-12,000 rpm. Moorland Profiles opted to omit the first spindle but added in a universal spindle option.
“We went for the universal spindle because it gave us the ability to create sculpted profiles. Having CNC settings has reduced our set-up times massively, so we are as close as we can get to having batch-size-one on a free-feed line.
“There’s also a remote control at the end of the machine for the universal spindle which is set up in the tool room. The profile is sent to the control on the machine and the information is relayed to the positioning motors. The universal spindle positions automatically to the required profile set . The remote control allows the operator to monitor the set up.”
With a variable feed speed of 5-40 m/min, it means even when running at higher feed speeds, Robin is guaranteed a fine finish as well as increased production, even when running the larger profiles of 230mm wide and 160mm high that the Powermat 1500 can handle.
“We’ve seen a 40% increase in the production of our profiles over the last year and the majority of that went through the moulder. Having that additional resource has made manufacturing a lot easier. To get the same results on a manual machine, we’d have to put on a night shift.
“We bought the machine at just the right time. We knew that batch sizes were going down – we could see that trend a long way off – and that was the main reason for buying the Powermat. We managed to get it installed and get the guys trained up on it so we were ready to move at just the right time.
“We are now producing about 120 kilometres of mouldings per week and that could easily increase to 200 kilometres. Before we got the new Powermat, we were only able to produce 60 kilometres.”
A £1.2m capital expenditure program has resulted in Moorland Profiles changing many of its process and that’s increased manufacturing efficiency across the board. The new moulder has made a significant contribution and, although Robin admits nobody likes change, his operators have taken to it easily: “The machine and its operating software is pretty straightforward to use,” he says. “We had some training on site as well as at Weinig UK and a couple of months later, we had some top up training. The software is very similar to what we’ve used on our CNC’s and edgebanders – it’s very straightforward. It is a different way of working but we have a really good team. They adapted to it quickly.”
Robin adds, “As business grows, replacing two older Weinig moulders with similar CNC-set machines is a high priority. There’s no doubt about it, it’s made enough of a difference for us to be sure it was the right choice.”
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