For Dean Steel Ltd, purchasing the latest in plasma cutting technology from a New Zealand-based firm has allowed them to continue operating – and grow their business – while fellow competitors are left waiting for parts, service and technical advice from overseas suppliers.
The Papakura company fabricates structural steel, concrete formwork and construction project-related steel work for apartment blocks and other multi-storied buildings across Auckland. Dean Steel decided to invest in a CutAce XL 6027 in late 2021 – Plazmax’s latest generation cutting system which features their proprietary 60 degree bevel head.
“We did a lot of research around getting this particular machine and looked at several other companies,” says the company’s commercial manager. “The thing that sold us on this one was Plazmax’s bevel head technology and then also buying local, and having that local support. If you buy one from overseas, your downtime could be weeks if something catastrophic happens. And you don’t have anyone here locally to service it.”
As well as providing comprehensive training for all staff on site, Plazmax’s after-sales support and service has been excellent, Dean Steel says.
“The remote diagnostics is really good. They can log in via TeamViewer onto both the kiosk of our machine and our own computer where we are doing the nesting. There hasn’t been a problem they haven’t been able to sort out as soon as you call them. Unless we’ve done something to the machine, downtime has generally only been 30 minutes or an hour max.
“We’ve only had a few initial teething problems really. We’ve had no problems with the cutting accuracy or cut quality.
Dean Steel have been impressed with the speed of the CutAce XL, which is powered by a Hypertherm XPR300 VWI power source. “When it travels up and down to do each pierce cut, it travels faster than other machines.
“We didn’t advertise that we had this machine and it’s already at full capacity. We’ve taken on quite a bit of cutting work for other engineering shops. We are probably 15-20% busier than we were – the past couple of months have probably been some of the busier months we’ve ever had.”
Dean Steel had previously outsourced a substantial amount of plate cutting to other companies. A cost benefit analysis showed the new machine would be a worthwhile investment for their own in-house jobs, as well as allowing them to take on extra work for others. It’s estimated the new set-up will have paid itself off in 2-4 years’ time.
The company has been able to refine its internal processes and is no longer using flat bar/merchant stock straight off the shelf. Instead, they are able to cut straight from plate.
“It’s cut down on handling and labour. The machine’s doing all the work for us. If we’ve got a few components that need cutting, rather than getting a guy to pull a piece of steel out from the rack and then go to the cropper and cut it, then clean up the sharp edges, now we’ll send the details to our guy running the Plazmax machine and he’ll put those plates into his next ‘nest’ of whatever thicknesses it is. It’s really helped improve efficiencies.”
The CutAce XL requires two staff members to operate it per shift. “Clean-up is the most labour-intensive thing. We have an employee just cleaning and packaging plates full time. The machine can cut faster than he can clean it up.”
The 60 degree bevel head unit has made life faster and easier, allowing Dean Steel to pre-cut preps for full penetration welds for both themselves and others.
“We honestly think it’s the best bevel head on the market. It’s just a really good design. It’s light, it’s nimble, it does what it needs to do. If someone was to shop around, even by looking at it in pictures, you can just see it’s a quality piece of gear.”
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