Just short of two years ago Rollfab installed a second-hand Craven horizontal lathe that was completely refurbished and reconditioned to virtually new by Machine Tool Promotions (MTP). This included scrapping of beds and other components where necessary, new gearboxes and ballscrews – in other words a complete geometric reconditioning and mechanical and electrical upgrade. This lathe has a swing of 5 000mm and can machine 12 metres in one setting.
The company had previously always shopped out its machining requirements but with the installation of the Craven lathe it was able to do all of its own turning of large components and had excess capacity that it could offer to other companies that had large turning requirements.
“We initially operated as a general fabricator of what is now regarded as the popular material sizes. It was a very good business until other fabricators saw the opportunities. What had been specialty work soon became common work.”
The large new Ermaksan PB1600 x 6000 press brake supplied by MTP. Four of the 11 machines in the press brake bending department are Ermaksan machines, all of them supplied by MTP. The biggest of these machines has capabilities of 1 200 ton pressing force and a 7m bending width. Rollfab could bend material up to 50mm but the majority of their work is done in the 20mm to 40mm region
“This was a big motivating factor in our desire to become known as a large operator. However, to be regarded as one the largest companies in South Africa offering fabrication, large plate rolling and bending and section rolling services we needed the complementing equipment to offer these services,” said Andrew Westphal, Managing Director of Rollfab. He runs the company with his brother Colin, who is the Production Director.
“The cost of this equipment to perform the larger metal processing operations is prohibitive and will deter many. But the driving force was competition because there were more and more shops that were getting into routine fabrications. We had to change and get into other niches to stay ahead of our competitors,” he added.
Machining on a large scale
It is inevitable that companies such as Rollfab that have experienced tremendous growth over the years, will run into problems with suppliers. The company had always shopped out its machining requirements.
“The size of components that we needed to be machined for the fabricating division required specialised transport in most cases, adding costs over and above those of the machining. Logistics and managing our sub-suppliers also put extra strain put on the company. Hence the decision to invest in the machining equipment.”
Large fully modernised O-M vertical turning and boring machine
MTP were also able to source a Japanese manufactured O-M vertical turning and boring machine that the company refurbished and reconditioned for Rollfab.
“Again we have trusted MTP. It is their business. The machine has been retrofitted and supplied as a 2-axis CNC machine. The machine has a table diameter of 3 000mm, a maximum turning diameter of 6 800mm, a maximum component height of 2 700mm, a maximum component of weight of 40 tons, a table speed range of 5 to 40rpm and a ram vertical stroke of 1 200mm. The installation took place in October 2019.”
MTP were also able to source a Japanese manufactured O-M vertical turning and boring machine that the company refurbished and reconditioned for Rollfab
Machining of large components offered
“Virtually overnight we have gone from a plate processor to a company that can add extra value and offer extended services. We as Rollfab will certainly not fill the capacity of these two machines and will extend our services to other engineering companies that require machining of large components.”
“We now process about 90% of our own machining requirements in-house but we will still have spare capacity.”
Large, heavy and high-strength plate processing
Processing of heavy plate and high-strength steel has become second nature to Rollfab since its establishment. Specialising in general steel fabrication, plate rolling, CNC bending and section rolling, the company had carved out a niche and emerged as a metal fabricator that can take on large and complex jobs that other shops might not want or do not have the equipment to handle. This was before it added CNC machining to its processing capabilities.
Rollfab offers bending facilities with 11 press brakes, ranging from 100 ton by 3m width up to 1 200 ton by 7m and rolling facilities with 12 plate rolls, ranging from 1mm up to 100mm by 3m.
Continuing on the large equipment theme Rollfab boast welding manipulators that can rotate and tilt fabricated items up to 30 tons and 5.5m in diameter. Rollfab’s tank rotators can handle shells up to 60 tons and eight metres in diameter. With welding being offered – sub arc, plasma tig, flux cored, mig & tig to various codes including AWS, ASME & EN ISO.
The O-M vertical turning and boring machine has been retrofitted and supplied as a 2-axis CNC machine. The machine has a table diameter of 3 000mm, a maximum turning diameter of 6 800mm, a maximum component height of 2 700mm, a maximum component of weight of 40 tons, a table speed range of 5 to 40rpm and a ram vertical stroke of 1 200mm
New large Ermaksan PB1600 x 6000 press brake brings capacity
“We are pretty well equipped in our bending department, or so we thought. With our added value adding services of CNC machining came the pleasant surprise of more requests for bending services. We have big bending capabilities, but it wasn’t enough. Additionally, in the larger size capabilities we had become very reliant on the one machine, which is not a good situation to be in, especially if we profess to offer a service that sets us apart from competition.”
“We also had a workflow that consisted of two shifts of plate bending operations, which also adds on extra costs.”
“Four of our 11 machines in the press brake bending department are Ermaksan machines, all of them supplied by MTP. The biggest of these machines has capabilities of 1 200 ton pressing force and a 7m bending width. We could bend material up to 50mm but the majority of our work is done in the 20mm to 40mm region.”
“We felt that we were too exposed in the bending department so we have now invested in another Ermaksan press brake that has a pressing force of 1 600 tons and a bending length of 6 metres, again supplied and installed by MTP.”
MTP sourced and refurbished a Craven horizontal lathe for Rollfab. This lathe has a swing of 5 000mm and can machine 12 metres in one setting
Locally manufactured tooling
Locally manufactured custom-designed tooling has been supplied. The tooling is interchangeable between the other press brakes that Rollfab has and was shipped to the Ermaksan manufacturing facility in Turkey for testing.
“We regard ourselves as a job shop that thrives on larger plate processing and fabrication. Supplying processed material to the profiling industry companies makes up a good percentage of our capacity but we are also very involved in supplying many other industries including mining and the transport industry.”
“The majority of the material that we process is the carbon and alloy steels of various thicknesses but in recent years we have been getting requests to process stainless steel more and more.”
For further information contact Rollfab on TEL: 011 626 1914 or visit www.rollfab.co.za