Ernest Gill Manufacturing has followed up its recent acquisition of a TruBend 5130X CNC press brake with an automated TruPunch 3000 CNC punch from TRUMPF, a machine that has cut cycle times up to six-fold in some instances. Both the TruPunch and TruBend feature TRUMPF Tooling and TruTops Software.

Formed in 1945, Halifax-based Ernest Gill Manufacturing has grown to become a 70-strong company with two core business streams. Not only is the family-owned company a successful subcontract fabricator to the office furniture, heating, lighting and point of display industries, but also an OEM producing its own range of office furniture for sister company Emergent Crown.

“We acquired the TruPunch 3000 for a couple of reasons: firstly our automated TRUMPF 3530 laser cutting machine was up to capacity; and secondly, our existing punching machine [not TRUMPF] was past its best,” explains the company’s Manager, Simon Gill. “We had seen the advantages of automated load/unload on our TRUMPF laser cutter and wanted the new punching machine to offer the same.”

Mr Gill decided to fully investigate the main punching machines available on the market but opted for the TRUMPF largely because of the machine’s single station punching head technology. The TruPunch punching head always holds just one tool – this can be a standard tool for punching, cutting, forming or marking, or also one of TRUMPF’s MultiTools which combine up to 10 different punch inserts in one tool adapter. No matter which tool is loaded, the punching head can rotate it 360° to any angle, regardless of its shape, size or placement in the magazine. The benefits are obvious: fewer tools are needed and unnecessary tool changes eliminated. At the same time, part quality is increased since nibbling is not required.

Typical sheet thickness processed by the new punching machine at Ernest Gill Manufacturing ranges from 0.7 to 3.0 mm, largely from materials such as zintec, CR4 mild steel, galvanised steel, stainless steel and aluminium. Batch sizes are in the realm of 100-off.

“One of the advantages is that we can now run 3000 x 1500 mm sheets, which means we can standardise on material size,” says Mr Gill. “On our previous punch we sometimes had to buy specific sheet sizes, so we have more flexibility now.”

“The TruPunch 3000 features TRUMPF SheetMaster load/unload automation with integrated tool changer and duplex cart system which enables us to leave it running unmanned overnight,” says Mr Gill. “On the first night it ran from 20:00 until 06:00 the next morning without stopping, producing a job that took 58 hours using our previous punching machine – a near six-fold reduction in cycle time. Furthermore, one of the small MultiTools on the TRUMPF recorded 250,000 hits on that night alone, which just shows how hard the machine worked.”

The speed of the TruPunch 3000 is facilitated by stroke rates of up to 1000 strokes per minute and fast rotation of the dynamic electric punching head. Furthermore, large format sheets can be processed without repositioning.

“We opted for TRUMPF Tooling on the punching machine because we recently bought a TruBend press brake with TRUMPF Tooling which has worked out really well,” says Mr Gill. “We always get great and fast support from TRUMPF whenever we require special tools, for instance.”

Installed in March 2015, the TruPunch 3000 follows the acquisition of a TruBend 5130X CNC press brake, a machine that has been set to bend sheets up to 8 mm thick.

“We purchased the TruBend 5130X not only because we needed more forming capacity, but because it would offer a better quality product,” explains Mr Gill. “In addition, it could be programmed offline using TruTops Software, whereas previously we could only program online at the machine. Now, when an enquiry for a component comes in, we don’t just assume we can fold it, we can use TruTops to make sure we can. This is important because we are seeing a trend in folding for ever more complex parts and shapes.”

Over the years, it’s clear that Ernest Gill Manufacturing has used its investment in the latest technologies to become synonymous with reliability, professionalism and forward-thought in a constantly changing industry. In the year of its 70th anniversary, the company remains committed to offering the best possible quality and service to its customers.