Seeking ways to lower both overheads and operational costs, and looking at ways to improve efficiency and offer better production consistency, Peterborough-based panel builder Pneumatechnique turned to Rittal and its automation systems for switchgear construction
One of the main issues Pneumatechnique faced was the underemployment of its highly skilled labour force. This had become obvious during an evaluation of work practices that considered how they were meeting customer demand, and how the company in turn made demands on production as an 'internal customer'.
“The interesting point is, that in conducting the review, we became commercially aware of the overheads and the opportunity costs inherent in our working practices and where savings could be made,” said MD Jim Venters. “There is no advantage in employing a highly qualified workforce to do basic tasks like drilling holes, which is what was happening,”
Following a detailed assessment and recommendations made by Rittal’s team, the decision was taken by Pneumatechnique to install a Rittal Automation Perforex CNC machine. Rittal’s team was able to advise on both the benefits that would be realised by installing the system — and the potential limitations. It was quickly identified that the capital expenditure could clearly be outweighed by the cost savings and the Perforex installation became a 'no-brainer' as part of the investment project.
Says Adam Wilson, production manager at Pneumatechnique: “The Perforex System has improved the quality, consistency and speed of our output, which has obviously been hugely beneficial for customers. A project that was taking four hours can now be completed in just 20 minutes and with a better finish. There are many other benefits too. Quality and con-sistency is guaranteed and a batch is always the same — whether it be one panel or 100, we are confident every single one will be identical.
“Specials and one-offs can now be delivered as standard, providing options and flexibility to the customer. And we can now do it all in-house for them in one operation. Our productivity improves the delivery timescale not just to the customer, but to us an internal customer too. This project has seen a lot of investment not only in money but in time; it has involved a great deal of hard work. The final result is an excellent fit for us and we are now offering customers something they can’t do.”
As far as future expansions go, Wilson says: "The Perforex system has opened up a number of new routes to market. What’s more this system looks like it will offer us the opportunity go way beyond the targets we have set for it.”