During February 2016 fast growing Eurocell fabricator Ford Windows took delivery of a new Stuga ZX4 sawing & machining center for their main Sheffield factory where they currently produce over 2000 windows per week. Managing Director Philip Shackley looked at the competition but even after claims about how big and strong their machines were he decided he liked the innovation of the Stuga ZX4. He could also see that the Stuga machine was big and strong where it needed to be, rather than just wasted steel in areas that do nothing.
Not only have Ford Windows found the Stuga to be very versatile but it is also proving to be fast, accurate and reliable. Philip and his team particularly like the on-board cameras that can record events. Ford Windows start at 6.00am each morning and the Stuga service desk is not then open but if there are any issues these are recorded ready for technicians to analyse the recordings when they arrive. These cameras are in addition to the internet software link and come with microphones, so the machine can be listened to as well as watched. Another great benefit comes from the fact that Stuga is the manufacturer and is based here in the UK, speaking the same language in the same time zone.
The Stuga ZX4 has a very tough and flexible rotary tooling system at the heart of the machine and this gives total flexibility to produce the full Eurocell Eurologik 70mm system and associated hardware with ease. This profile is in demand with housebuilders due to the high energy ratings and the six chamber system is no problem for the ZX4’s fully programmable gripper system which uses a CNC axis for smart and accurate control. The ZX4 is also easily programmable for the Eurocell Modus window profiles which are gaining in popularity. In fact the inbuilt flexibility created by the rotary tooling means that only software updates are required in order to add new profiles that may come along in the future. No tooling is needed and unlike fixed head machines the Stuga can be adapted profile by profile and hardware by hardware to create almost any combination the fabricator may require.
Ford Windows has been listed as one of Yorkshire’s fastest growing companies in both 2015 and 2016 with turnover almost doubling between 2013 and 2014. Ford also expanded into Scotland with a factory in East Kilbride that broke even in the first year of operation and which is now profitable and expanding steadily. The company supply and fit everything giving housebuilders the one-stop-shop they like. Customers include Barratt Development, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. The Stuga ZX4 is part of a £1 million investment in the company and the investment is already being repaid by this machine which is currently saving Ford £4,000 per week in profile and nearly as much in reduced staff all of who have been redeployed in other functions within the business to help in the expansion programme. The fabricator is already achieving efficiency in production of nearly eighty five percent and this is after only four months in production.
With this level of automation sometimes being resisted by a workforce Finance Director Julian Thorpe and Managing Director Philip Shackley ensured that all key staff and supervisors were involved in the planning process so that when the machine arrived there were no surprises. Stuga also spent three weeks on site properly training operators, supervisors and maintenance staff to ensure as smooth an installation as possible keeping teething issues to a minimum.
The Stuga ZX4 uses two operators to achieve between 800 and 1,000 windows per week in a single shift with accuracy in everything including ‘Y’ notches but Stuga Service provides total piece of mind for the odd occasion when something goes wrong. The very latest leading edge technology from Stuga utilising Beckhoff control systems means that the ZX4-MK5 is the most reliable machine Stuga has ever built and even has a built-in system to detect and protect issues that could cause failure of the high speed motor systems that enable the machine to operate efficiently at high speed.
The ZX4 has proven to be so fast and reliable that Ford Windows have just ordered a second one for Sheffield that will be built and delivered in 2017.