Bono Steel, based in Elandsfontein, Gauteng, can attribute its existence to a sister company that was involved in just machining operations and services before the owner decided to offer his clients forming and fabricating services. The company dabbled in a bit of forming with an investment in a couple of press brakes but as the company grew so too did its requirements for sheet metal and plate components.
Frustrated by late deliveries and the quality of their sheet metal and plate component requirements from existing suppliers, as well as wanting to offer more services to clients, Bono Steel was initially established in 2006 to satisfy the machining company’s own needs. Such has been the growth of this standalone company involved in the processing of a range of materials that it now has a bigger turnover than the machining company. Additionally, Bono Steel does not operate on a one-client basis anymore. The company has also increased its metal cutting and bending services that it offers and boasts a whole host of independent clients not related to its sister company.
Bono Steel has recently invested in a new Trumpf TruLaser 3060 fiber laser, purchased from Retecon Machine Tools. The machine was installed in November 2018
For some clients the proposition that Bono Steel is linked to a machining company might pose a problem but the majority of the clients are only too happy to deal with Bono Steel, especially as the company offers more than a typical service centre that will usually only specialise in one processing discipline – like laser cutting, for example.
Increasingly, customers are looking to work with fewer companies and they are driving a move toward integration of the machining and fabricating processes. To satisfy this trend, many machine shops sub-contract with fabrication shops and vice-versa to keep clients happy. While that works well for some, a few shops have abandoned sub-contracting in favour of putting machining and fabricating under their own control.
But there is a limit to the amount of metal processing machines that a company can have on its shop floor, let alone afford. Take metal forming and fabricating for example. There is laser, plasma, oxyfuel (flame), profile and waterjet cutting, the many different types of bending, including rolling, pressing, coil processing, polishing, joining and fastening technology and many other processes and equipment to produce semi-finished and finished sheet metal and plate products for both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. And I have not even mentioned the machines and processes for structural steel processing.
In 2015 Bono Steel purchased a Prima Power Maximo laser cutter from Talmac Machine Tools
Bono Steel invested in a new Trumpf TruBend 3100 press brake, which was purchased from Retecon Machine tools and installed in May 2017
It’s not an easy task to successfully integrate metal shaping with metal cutting, forming and fabrication in one engineering company. By blending these usually separate processes you do become a true full-service supplier to your customer base and I don’t think there are many companies around offering all these different processes, if any.
However, the attitude of ‘multitasking’ for a client has paid dividends for many companies. They will offer machining and some cutting services, and add on fabricating, finishing and assembly. In many cases because of its unique capabilities, the company becomes a partner with its customer.
Although the company has the opportunity to use its sister company’s machining services and will do so if requested by a client, Bono Steel has concentrated on offering more sheet and plate services. These increased services that have either been implemented over the last few years or are already past the planning stage, have put Bono Steel in a unique position.
Currently being installed at Bono Steel is a new Voortman V630 beam drilling machine, which was supplied by First Cut
The Voortman beam drilling machine is complemented with a Voortman VB1050 CNC bandsaw machine
Initially Bono Steel was equipped with bending, rolling and profile cutting equipment. Included in the inventory is a Heli 150 ton hydraulic press, a 400 ton Heli bending press, another 175 ton bending press, a Heli CS 13 x 3100mm guillotine, a MG plate roller. The profile cutting division includes a plasma cutter, a Mardicraft flame cutter and a Messer CNC flame cutter.
“This equipment fitted the requirements of the machining company, which was initially involved in machining of larger fabricated structures before the company evolved into machining these larger fabricated structures and fabricating them for clients,” said Henry Grundling, the Sales Manager of Bono Steel.
“The company offered the services of boiler making, welding, flame, profile and plasma cutting, guillotining and bending.”
New Prima Power Maximo laser cutter
“This all changed in 2013 when a 1 500m² building was erected specifically to house Bono Steel. The growth plan that had been strategised started to take further shape in 2015 when a Prima Power Maximo laser cutter was purchased and installed by Talmac Machine Tools.”
The profile cutting division includes a plasma cutter, a Mardicraft flame cutter and a Messer CNC flame cutter
Examples of components that Bono Steel has processed for clients
“The Prima Power Maximo laser cutter is a CO2 machine. At that time fiber laser cutting was still relatively new in the market. Besides the company needed a machine that could cut stainless steel effortlessly. The machine has a bed size of 12 by 3m and we offer cutting services from 0,5mm to 12mm in stainless steel. This includes 304, 316, 3CR12 and 430PVC coated material.”
“On the mild steel side we cut from 1,2mm up to 16mm.”
“It was the company’s first laser cutter and it opened up new doors. Besides more than coping with in-house requirements there was excess capacity, which allowed the company to seek new external customers.”
“In addition to laser cutting we could plasma cut mild steel from 1,2mm up to 16mm, we could flame cut mild steel from 2mm up to 300mm and plate rolling up to 16mm thick.”
“I joined the company in 2016 on the sales side having been in the industry for some years. The brief was to increase the visibility of Bono Steel in the market place and not just be reliant on one customer, namely our sister company.”
Bono Steel offers laser cutting up to 25 millimetres in thickness for both mild steel and stainless steel
Bono Steel can flame cut mild steel from 2mm up to 300mm
“I am happy to say that 50% of Bono Steel’s processed material is now destined for external customers. We are processing between 200 and 250 tons of material a month and the plan is to increase this and also increase the percentage destined for new clients.”
New Trumpf TruBend 3100 press brake
“Our bending department has needed attention because we have some relatively old equipment that we use. The machines still perform as they should but we needed variety and more capacity.”
“With reference to this the company invested in a new Trumpf TruBend 3100 press brake, which was purchased from Retecon Machine tools and installed in May 2017.”
“The TruBend 3100 is part of the new generation TruBend Series 3000 that Trumpf offers.”
“The TruBend 3100 back gauges can move across the entire bending length removing any restrictions. Automatic crowning ensures consistent angles. In addition, high axis speeds make the machine one of the fastest in its class.”
“The TruBend uses one-of-a-kind software for 3D design and programming of laser, punching, and bending machines. The TruBend 3100 has a press force of 100 tons and bending length of 3 060mm. It includes a four-axis back gauge. This makes it possible to position sheet metal securely, even where complex part geometries are involved.”
New Trumpf TruLaser 3060 fiber laser
“Continuing with our strategy of growing Bono Steel the company has now invested in a new Trumpf TruLaser 3060 fiber laser, also purchased from Retecon Machine Tools. The machine was only installed in November 2018 so we are still in the learning curve stage but it will open up new opportunities and markets for us.”
Examples of components that Bono Steel has processed for clients
Bono Steel have identified that at this stage the company is not equipped to handle cutting stainless steel in the 25 to 50mm range. Research is currently being carried out and if plans go accordingly Bono Steel will be investing in a high definition plasma cutter with a rotating head so that the company can also do bevel cutting
“The Trumpf TruLaser 3060 fiber laser offers oversize format processing in a working range of 6 x 2.5 metres, multi-sheet processing of up to four medium format sheets – even if they differ in thicknesses and material – and a new high-speed cutting process for faster cutting.”
“Equipped with a TruDisk laser that has a power output of six kilowatts, the TruLaser 3060 fiber can cut sheets up to 25 millimetres in thickness for both mild steel and stainless steel.”
Delicate geometries thanks to targeted cooling
“Cutting delicate parts from thick sheets of mild steel as well as high process reliability and narrow nesting is made possible by the CoolLine feature. Targeted cooling of the workpiece during cutting allows for new geometries and increases process reliability. During processing, the specialised nozzles of the cutting head spray water mist in a perfect circle around the laser beam and onto the workpiece. Vaporisation energy maintains a nearly constant temperature during cutting.”
“We are very excited about this new investment because not only are we embracing new technology but it also gives us more flexibility and services to offer to clients.”
“And we are not stopping there.”
New Voortman V630 beam drilling machine and Voortman VB1050 CNC bandsaw machine
“Yes this is a very exciting development and will be a completely new area of metal working that we will be entering.”
“Although they have been purchased specifically for a particular order it is more part of our vision to be one of the service providers offering customers options for sheet, plate and beam manipulation and cutting.”
Henry Grundling manages Bono Steel on the sales and marketing side and Armand Strydom on the production side
“The two machines are due to arrive in South Africa in January 2019 and will be operational by the end of February 2019. First Cut will be installing the machines.”
“The Voortman V630 CNC beam drilling machine has three independent drilling heads and can drill both flanges and the web at the same time, which strongly reduces working hours and operating costs. Each drilling head has its own automatic tool changer with five tools suitable for HSS drills, carbide tipped drills, thread tapping, counter sinking, layout marking and centre point marking. This feature eliminates the need of an operator being present at the drilling line.”
“The Voortman VB1050 CNC bandsaw machine, which forms part of the beam cell, is equipped with the latest technology like servo motors and spindles. Another distinguishing feature is that the Voortman range comes equipped with a moving sawing table as a standard feature. This makes sure that the sawing lists are always in line with the sawing blade so it never cuts into the table.”
“The Voortman V630 CNC beam drilling machine is delivered with Voortman’s in-house developed VACAM operating software. VACAM constantly keeps track of all the material and the machines know exactly which raw length or part is entering the machine without any intervention from the operator.”
“We have identified that at this stage we are not equipped to handle stainless steel in the 25 to 50mm range. Research is currently being carried out and if plans go accordingly we should be investing in a high definition plasma cutter with a rotating head so we can do bevel cutting.”
Initially Bono Steel was equipped with bending, rolling and profile cutting equipment
“We would also like to increase our capacity and capabilities on the bending side. A much bigger press brake with bigger dimensions possibly.”
In the case of Bono Steel, it has built a business based on flexibility and breadth. It’s a business designed to cut and bend material for its customers in the shortest possible time, a factor that had a great influence on why the company was established in the first place.
By performing more services than generally found in a single discipline service centre, some of the business risk is spread over a group of jobs rather than just one. It has also cultivated customer loyalty by becoming a unique kind of vendor.
While the company has derived more work from its diverse capability, as one might expect, there have also been process advantages from the crossover that were not anticipated.
For further details contact Bono Steel on TEL: 011 822 6457 or visit www.bonosteel.co.za