Redditch-based access equipment maker, Redhill Manufacturing, has purchased two British-built all-electric tube bending machines from Unison Ltd, and two fibre laser cutting machines from Unison’s sister company, Nukon Lasers UK.
The new machines will be used by Redhill to meet increased demand for its products, with one of the tube benders replacing a machine that was lost in a factory fire in May 2022.
The first of the new fibre lasers, a Nukon ECO 315 4kW flat sheet metal machine, was installed at Redhill’s newly acquired facility in December 2022.
The second laser, a Nukon NKT-125 2kW 3D tube cutting model, and the two Unison tube bending machines – both 30 mm tube diameter single stack models – will be installed later in 2023. Combined, the value of the four machines is in excess of £1 million.
Following the fire at its original manufacturing site, Redhill wasn’t simply faced with finding new premises. The Redditch business also needed quality CNC machine tools to maintain its standing as the only UK manufacturer of ‘kitemarked’ British Standard mobile safety steps.
“Incredibly, we were up and running again in just three weeks following the fire,” comments Redhill’s managing director, Andy Colley.
“With temporary accommodation secured until we could move into our new manufacturing facility in winter 2022, and the insurance settled, we basically needed to source new tube bending machinery – and quickly. This was because only one of our existing benders had survived the fire. It also seemed appropriate to end our reliance on outsourced laser-cut parts by investing in our own flat sheet and laser tube cutting capability.”
Free loan of tube bending machine
“I’d read good things about Unison’s range of all-electric ‘Breeze’ tube bending machines, so got in touch with them with a view to ordering two machines; one to replace the machine we’d lost and a second for additional capacity,” adds Andy Colley.
“As it would be several months before the new bending machines were ready, Unison kindly offered to lend us one of their showroom models. This was just what we needed to tide us over until the new tube benders were built.”
It was during a meeting with Unison’s key account manager, Steve Haddrell, to discuss the specification of Redhill Manufacturing’s two new all-electric Breeze tube benders, that the conversation turned to laser cutting.
“I obviously had a requirement for two fibre laser machines but wasn’t aware that Unison’s sister company had recently become the UK and Ireland distributor for the Nukon laser range,” says Andy Colley.
“As I didn’t really know the Nukon brand, Steve Haddrell arranged to take me to a company in Sheffield that had been using a Nukon flat sheet metal laser for around a year – all so I could see the machine in action and chat to the operators about their experience of using it.”
“If it’s good enough for Unison…”
Hearing glowing reports of how the Nukon flat sheet metal laser had streamlined the process of cutting complex precision components at the Sheffield business, Andy Colley then travelled to Nukon’s European manufacturing facility to see a Nukon tube laser machine in action.
“The tube laser machine was just as impressive as the machine I’d seen in Sheffield,” comments Andy Colley.
“The build quality was very good. Both machines were competitively priced, and the features included nLIGHT fibre lasers with adaptive beam optimisation and Lantek Expert nesting software. What really gave me the confidence to place an order, however, was my belief that if Unison was happy to be associated with Nukon, there was absolutely no need for me to be concerned about machine quality or aftersales support. They were a given.”
Redhill Manufacturing chose the Nukon ECO 315 4kW (3050 mm x 1530 mm) flat sheet metal fibre laser for its ability to cut complex shapes and pieces with speed and precision – supported by fast, easy programming, an essential requirement for a business dealing with small batch runs.
Similarly, the Nukon NKT-125 2kW 3D tube laser machine was selected for its speed, easy programming and exceptional versatility whether cutting pipe of round, oval, square or rectangular profile. The machine will also be supplied with a fully automatic Nukon 8 m loading and unloading system.
Redhill’s two new 30 mm Unison Breeze single stack tube bending machines will be used in the manufacture of its British Standard (BS EN 131-7) kitemarked steps; mobile steps, portable steps and other access equipment. All Unison Breeze machines offer rapid setup, fast tooling changes, exceptional power, rigid mechanical design and all-electric control for right-first-time repeat sub-contract work, or immediately after producing a single trial part.
“The installation of our Nukon ECO flat sheet metal laser was smooth and straightforward,” adds Andy Colley.
“While thanks to the machine’s easy setup and the thorough training provided by the Nukon Lasers UK team, we were successfully cutting components almost immediately – a benefit that gave us excellent quality control and allowed us to stop outsourcing laser cutting.
“We’re now looking forward to the arrival of our second Nukon laser and the Unison tube benders in the next few months.”
“It was a pleasure to assist Redhill Manufacturing in upscaling its manufacturing capability and replacing the equipment lost in the fire,” comments Unison’s Steve Haddrell. “When we heard how the business had lost one of its tube benders, we simply had to help out with a loan machine.”