Top quality and delivery gets a fabricator in customers’ doors. If a company can’t produce good parts on time, it’ll have a tough time growing let alone sustaining itself. The market has become just too competitive for mediocre performance.
So what causes quality and delivery problems? One answer is rework from bad parts, which is where operator skill enters the equation. In laser cutting this might be a nozzle that really isn’t centred, a focus point that really isn’t where it should be, a speed or feed that isn’t optimal, a cover slide (on fiber lasers) or focusing optic that really hasn’t been properly maintained or cleaned, the factors go on.
Modern equipment has automated a lot of these in-process quality assurance functions to varying degrees, depending on the tolerances and customer expectations. Some press brakes can even automatically correct angles to account for variations in material thickness, tensile strength, and grain direction.
Barrows Global have recently installed a 4kW Trumpf TruLaser 1030(L88) fiber laser, supplied by Retecon
But another element of the quality and delivery problem can rear its ugly head: The operational chaos indicative of high-product-mix manufacturing, up and down the process chain. Sales can agree to an order that really can’t be fulfilled. Expedites throw off the schedule. Machines cut parts that are already in inventory and skip parts that are needed and erroneously thought to be in inventory. And so on.
A business that has grown into a major global force within its industry is Barrows Global. Barrows, established in 1990, is a marketing and strategy company that is based in Durban’s Umgeni Business Park, KwaZulu-Natal and specialises in designing and manufacturing display stands for retail stores worldwide.
The brainchild of school friends Derek Woodhouse and Richard Barrow, the business has come a long way from its roots – a display specialist in the retail business. What the company does now is much more than that and they do not regard themselves as display specialists.
The Trumpf TruLaser 1030(L88) fiber laser cuts a wide range of sheet thicknesses from 1mm to 25mm (25mm steel, 20mm stainless steel and aluminium and 8mm copper and brass) and has a bed size of 3 000mm by 1 500mm
To clarify the core of the company it is explained: “Instead of starting with the display design as we did in the past, we begin with planning and strategy before moving to design, placement and production. We work with our clients to understand their needs. We also find out from the shopper’s point of view, how the category is shopped.”
Culture is at the core of Barrows, a culture based on people with a sincere passion for what they do, working together towards a greater purpose. With a business that incorporates retail strategy, design and manufacturing, the culture of Barrows is about solving problems for their clients with a can-do attitude while having fun along the way.
The world of retail and shopper marketing is one of constant flux. Questions like ‘What is the role of brick-and-mortar stores in the future?’ or ‘How can we make the shopping experience more seamless and enjoyable for shoppers, consumers and retailers alike?’ are constantly testing those in the industry. These are the types of questions that they ask themselves daily. There has been more change in the world of retail in the past three years than in the fifteen years before that! Barrows is constantly adapting, thinking, reacting and delivering solutions to meet the needs of such a dynamic time. Ultimately, it’s the people at Barrows that make it all possible and keep them ahead of the pack.
Display units made by Barrows Global in Dischem
In keeping with the world’s desire for sustainability ethos, Barrows has to take into account these demands and recently completed a project in the UK where all the store fit-out materials were ethically sourced and are 100 per cent recyclable. The modern store design is able to change and shift to meet one of the United Kingdom’s leading health and wellness retailers’ needs, with all of the merchandise units on wheels, so they can be easily moved to reconfigure the store layout as needed, for example, in the case of a workshop or an in-store class and ultimately enhance the customer experience.
Already in 1999 the company opened a branch in London and subsequently went on to become a global company with offices in Brazil, Singapore, USA (New York and Los Angeles), Canada, China (Shanghai) and Mexico.
While all this rapid expansion took place worldwide one thing remained constant in the company – manufacturing at its home base in Durban. This allows the company to export its expertise and product around the globe.
As is expected of the industry that the company is associated with the office and manufacturing facility is one of vibrancy and creativeness. The manufacturing side has recently been through an investment programme whereby new equipment has been purchased and new material processing operations have been introduced.
“Point-of-purchase and point-of-sale display stands design and manufacture is a competitive environment. Design and manufacturing services can set a company apart. But it is the display itself – the efficiency and functionality, the aesthetic look and the quality of the sheet metal components and enclosures – that can really make a difference,” said Production Manager Johan van der Sandt.
New Trumpf fiber laser and press brake
“Your metal fabrication and assembly have to match the expectations and the only way you are going to do that is using the latest tools. This is why we have recently installed a 4kW Trumpf TruLaser 1030(L88) fiber laser and a Trumpf Trubend 3100 5-axis press brake, both supplied by Retecon.”
“We did have a CO2 laser cutting machine and when that got unproductive we shopped our sheetmetal requirements out. But like many of our other processes we have brought this process back in-house as in certain cases there is IP involved.”
Barrows Global have recently installed a Trumpf Trubend 3100 5-axis press brake
“Our existing press brake had also become very unproductive and needed an upgrade. We are not just your average job shop or service centre. We employ over 250 staff in the production side of the business and to keep them busy we need to supply them with processed material and components so that they are productive.”
“Included in the machine line up are punches, wire benders, tube benders, drill presses and guillotines. We are also doing spot welding and CO2 welding and we also have our own powder coating facility.”
Robotic welding introduced
“There are many instances in a company’s manufacturing services whereby a case for automation can be put forward. Large production runs and common removal and cutting applications are classical examples, as is spot welding. Introducing robotic automation solutions can reduce labour costs and allow talented employees to concentrate on higher-value, complex jobs. They also increase productivity and efficiency as well as deliver exceptional speed and precision leading to reduced cycle times, increased production volume and less waste or rework. This is why we are automating certain welding processes.”
Examples of Barrows Global work
“Investing in a state-of-the-art facility and equipment, combined with automating labour-intensive processes, can play a huge role in a company’s success.”
“We’ve been operating in the global retail design and manufacturing realm for over 25 years, continually growing and adapting to meet the demands of each of the regions we operate in. Everything we do is centred on a single overarching mission; creating solutions that drive shopper conversion.”
“Retailers need to improve shopper experience to meet rising expectations and counter the impact of ecommerce.”
“Our range of services encompasses everything from insights and strategy, design and conceptualisation, right through to engineering and execution. True to our heritage in manufacturing, our ideas and designs are firmly rooted in technical know-how. We design with real-world results in mind, and always strive to be remarkable.”
For further details contact Barrows Global on TEL: 031 250 8861 or visit www.barrowsglobal.com