In the competitive sheet metalworking market, BL-Lasertechnik GmbH has successfully managed to stand out from the crowd. By expanding its value chain, including into the area of milling, the company is now on a steady growth trajectory and currently has some 90 employees.
"Today we also take on orders that fall outside the area of sheet metal processing," says BL director and owner Max Bauer. He paints a picture of the company's development from sheet metal processing to the diversified metalworking company that it is today. Following the company's founding in 2008, it initially focused on flexible laser cutting and bending of sheet metal up to 30 mm thick. Over time, more technologies were added, as customers kept looking for more added value from a single source, and also because competition pressure is very high in the sheet metal processing sector. "Pure sheet metal processing has become a displacement market; more and more customers want a finished product from a single source, while there is a diminishing demand for standalone laser or folded parts," says Bauer, the company's director.
"Always technologically a step ahead"
BL-Lasertechnik GmbH has risen to these challenges. Over the years, the company has developed in line with customer requirements and has become increasingly broad-based. It now performs programming, laser, bending, folding, milling and welding work. Surface finishing has also been incorporated into the value chain. Today the medium-sized company employs 90 people, who mainly carry out work for German and international clients in the agricultural machinery, electrical engineering and medical technology industries. It primarily manufactures individual parts and small series. "We are highly flexible when it comes to production. We can produce a part for our customers within the space of a few hours, if necessary," says Technical Manager Maximilian Scharringer, describing the company's approach to production. Bauer adds, "By offering this kind of service, we are trying to make sure that we are always technologically a step ahead of the competition. We achieve things that are beyond lots of other companies." Ensuring that the plant is equipped with high-quality machinery is therefore vital, and the company regularly invests in its machines. For sheet metal processing, BL uses machines including a modern fibre laser and a high-speed bending cell. The milling division recently acquired a 5-axle machining centre from HEDELIUS. BL currently uses a total of three machines by the North German manufacturer.
Greater flexibility with HEDELIUS
"Today our milling division plays a very important role in the growth of our company. Thirty per cent of our sales are generated by milling work. Every fourth or fifth laser-cut part is now processed on a milling machine," says Bauer. This is a rapid development when we consider that the company started using its first milling machine as recently as 2015, when it acquired a 3-axle C80 2300 machining centre from HEDELIUS. "Our customers started increasingly asking for the processing of assemblies, so we decided to go into milling," says Scharringer. Workpieces with an X-travel of up to 2,340 mm can be machined on the C80. At BL, these include larger parts for welded assemblies. However, as smaller but still complex parts often have to be manufactured, in 2016 and 2017 the company bought another two 5-axle machining centres. The RS 605 K and RS 605 K20 from the HEDELIUS RotaSwing range have a fixed machine bench and a rotary table. The somewhat smaller RS 605 K offers X-travel of 580 mm on a fixed machine bench and 520 mm on the rotary table, while the RS 605 K20 offers X-travel of 1,330 mm and 620 mm. "The machine design, which features a fixed machine bench and a rotary table, allows us to process lots of small parts without having to keep re-clamping them. What's more, the 5-axle machining centres have made us much more flexible," says Scharringer, revealing why the company opted for HEDELIUS machines.
Greater precision than laser-cutting
The medium-sized Neuschönau-based company processes approximately 1,000 tonnes of material every year. This is mostly aluminium, but steel, non-ferrous metals and plastics are also processed. "Customers sometimes request precision details that go beyond the capabilities of laser-cutting. The final precision work is done on a milling machine," says Max Bauer. Processing times for workpieces vary greatly: processing can take anywhere from a few minutes to four hours. As customers often need parts at quite short notice, set-up times and the availability of the machines both play a major role. "Our machining centres have to run reliably, and they do," stresses Scharringer. "We haven't had any breakdowns so far."
Impressive "Made in Germany" credentials
With more than two years of practical experience of HEDELIUS machining centres, those in charge at BL-Lasertechnik are convinced that they made the right decision by investing in the machines, not least because of their good price/performance ratio. "The machines are based on a well though-out concept and have a sound basic configuration. The HEDELIUS principle of putting the focus on the customer is appreciated by those who operate their machines. The machines are easy to handle: the doors are lightweight but sturdy," sums up Scharringer. Customers can simply rely on the manufacturer's "Made in Germany" quality credentials. We are also completely satisfied with the servicing provided by HEDELIUS – nothing can be faulted."