Moving into fabricating

Sheet metal processing and fabricating, electronics design, assembly and finishing make for a unique value-added offering from Edge Line Engineering.

Making the transition into manufacturing, more specifically sheet metal processing and fabrication, is a daunting task at the best of times. But when you see the opportunities and you can reflect six years later on your decision to diversify and see what you can now offer clients, it is somehow all worth it.

This company, which has roots in the electronics product distribution and installation industry, now offers sheet metal processing and fabricating, electric and electronics design, assembly and finishing for a multitude of clients. These value-added capabilities, combined with its metalworking and electronic talents, have made Edge Line Engineering an important partner for its clients in several different industries.

What makes the company stand out even more than other fabricating shops in an industry where one metal fabricating shop is rarely an exact copy of another is its ability to take your concept and then deliver the end product, whether it is a one off or a production run of a product made up of many different components, including the electronics.


The new Durma HD-F 3015 4kW fibre laser with a cutting length of 3000mm and cutting width of 1500mm was installed in April 2016


Edge Line Engineering have installed two Durma press brakes recently

In recent times the company has increased its presence in processing sheet metal and offering a job shop service with the introduction of a Durma fiber laser, two Durma press brakes and a Durma turret punch press.

Even though the business, with its full-blown electronics capabilities, is not your typical sheet metal processing and fabricating operation, Edge Line Engineering does share a lot of similarities with its peers, like focusing on the basics, and is committed to producing quality components and products.

The company’s entrance into the sheet metal processing and fabricating market really began to take shape in 2010 when Edge Line Engineering was established. While some fabricators were feeling the pinch of a tightening economy, the company’s shareholders decided to enter the market with the intention of becoming a market leader in the design, manufacture and sales of electrical, electronic and mechanical products and components for the commercial, industrial, municipal, and mining market sectors.

The shareholders had been working in the electrical industry for some time and saw opportunities to offer more than just what they were doing at the time.

Shortly after the formation of the company, they acquired a sheet metal processing/ fabricating entity that was established in 1964. This acquisition provided a solid foundation and accelerated the growth for the company to its current position.


Components bent on the Durma press brakes


Edge Line Engineering has also recently installed a Durma turret punch press

Edge Line Engineering now specialises in sheet metal processing and fabrication of components, as well as the design, manufacture, finishing and assembly of products such as enclosures, substation components, distribution kiosks, motor control panels and distribution boards, cable management systems, electrical low voltage products, secure locking systems, power generators, and much more.

Most importantly, the shareholders saw precision sheet metal processing and fabrication as a road to diversification and a consistent cash flow. The company now has several successful product lines for the power utility sector that they manufacture on a contract basis, and it’s a growing business. Contract metal fabrication doesn’t have to be seasonal, and it can serve customers across multiple markets. That is why Edge Line Engineering offers this service as well.

Moreover, getting into contract fabrication allows the company to participate in a trend in manufacturing: the push of design services down the supply chain. A purchasing manager on a quest for the lowest per-piece price may work for long-established product lines, but these days, many products have short life cycles. Before you know it, a new design is on the table, and quite often there’s a new or better way to manufacture it. A fabricator’s engineers, who sit steps away from the people and machines that actually perform the work, can help.

Edge Line Engineering currently operates from two locations in the Robertsham area of Johannesburg with a gross area exceeding 10 000m², offering their clients a complete manufacturing solution, from concept to end product. This includes a 3D design studio using SolidWorks as their design platform.


The existing Amada punch press


Edge Line Engineering has two Amada press brakes

The company’s facilities utilise the latest CNC controlled equipment. The fabrication department is well equipped and boasts machinery of the highest standard, covering a wide spectrum of processes including roll forming, slitting, punching, bending, corner notching, and laser cutting. Edge Line Engineering also uses the latest version of cncKad from Metalix, a CAD/CAM software system for nesting and other processing features. Grinding and finishing processes are all incorporated in the production area, ensuring for even distribution and work flow.

All completed products are chemically cleaned at the company’s pickling and passivation plant. A seven stage dipping process forms the basis of the cleaning process, assisted by high pressure spray equipment for a final rinse cycle. The powder coating plant boasts a high volume batch oven allowing for larger/heavier products. The plant can also process more than one colour at any given time.

Final assembly and wiring is facilitated in the Electro Mechanical Department, comprising of several assembly stations. Each station is well equipped to deal with the required fitment, assembly, and wiring of products.

The main areas of activity of the company’s clients are in the building, food and beverage, forestry, hospitals, IT, lighting, medical, mining, municipality, paper and pulp, petrochemical, power generation, refrigeration and air-conditioning industries.

Edge Line Engineering manufactures modular steel enclosures for distribution boards, motor starters, motor control systems, steel fabrication of conveyors and chutes, and the product range includes network cabinet enclosures and accessories, control desks, electrical main distribution boards, modular electrical kiosks manufactured to suit client requirements, modular motor control panels, PLC panels and system integration, intelligent smart meters and other control systems, E-houses and control cabins.


The first laser that Edge Line Engineering purchased was a Bystronic Bysprint 3015. This took place three years ago


The management team includes Gary Shear, Megan Caldwell, Verny Turton and Prince Mcineka

In addition to design and manufacture of products Edge Line Engineering also offers electricity consumption analysis, electricity recordings and load profiling, repairs to all makes of power factor correction units, servicing of existing power factor units, supply and installation of new power factor correction units and total energy management solutions.

Standing out
Edge Line Engineering believes that there are a few other factors that make the company stand out from others. The shareholder’s electrical engineering background is always a plus, as is the company’s ability to deliver the complete product including all the necessary electrical componentry. Edge Line Engineering are also the agents for General Electric (GE) circuit breakers, switchgear and control units as well as having access to a number of locking solutions, including mechatronic smart locks.

An example is given by the shareholders. The brief for the Eskom Soweto Revenue Enhancement Project was to provide a secure enclosure for the prepaid metering system that the SOE was rolling out. Edge Line Engineering manufactured the enclosure, the electronics inside, the locking mechanism and the remote communication system.

But the company went further. They designed and had the concrete base manufactured so that when they deliver the final product, all Eskom has to do is install their smart metering split prepaid meters, connect the wires and then switch on.


Fettling in the metal fabrication shop


Various components and products before further processing

“Any metal fabricated product starts with an idea and then a design. The job shop or contract fabricator then feeds components to the product-line manufacturer or OEM. So, ultimately, this business boils down to three principal functions: engineering, job shop fabrication, and production. Like other progressive fabricators, Edge Line Engineering has evolved to include all three of these, but we have progressed even further than our competitors and this is what makes us stand out,” said one of the shareholders.

Inevitable change – new equipment
When the shareholders purchased the fabricator in 2010, the company wasn’t in the healthiest position. It ran traditional, batch-style production that created significant work-in-process, which is why it took six weeks for most jobs to make it through the shop. Jobs just sat in a queue most of the time. Even worse, the company had equipment spread all over the place.

Change was therefore necessary and this has gradually been made, with acceleration over the last three years, including the purchasing of new metal fabricating equipment, the purchase of a new building that has seen a complete refurbishment and renovation, and additions to the existing facility.

Edge Line Engineering’s first major capital equipment purchase took place three years ago when they acquired their first laser – a Bystronic Bysprint 3015 3kW 2000 CNC laser. The company already had a couple of existing Amada punch presses and press brakes but they have now added equipment in all three of these disciplines.

“We have many more opportunities in the market than we anticipated. As a result production capacity on the metal fabrication side was a restriction,” said one of the shareholders.


Edge Line Engineering is a distributor for GE products


A view of the electrical assembly area

Last year Edge Line Engineering installed a new Durma turret punch press and a Durma AD-R 30135 press brake that has a capacity of 3048mm bending length, a 135 ton bending force and a throat of 410mm.

Installed in January this year was another Durma press brake. This time the company purchased the Durma AD-R 30100 hydraulic press brake that has a bending power of 100 ton and bending length of 3050mm.

New fibre laser
“Fabricating metal parts today using the same approaches and technology from 10 years ago is a time-intensive exercise. New technology introduces efficiencies to the fabricating process that shops need to embrace if they are to maximise profitability and stay ahead of the competition,” said one of the shareholders.

“High-speed fibre lasers have had a significant impact on the fabrication industry, and the introduction of one in your shop would create an immediate differentiation. However, at Edge Line Engineering we first had to consider how the faster cutting equipment would affect our front-end systems and downstream processes. Would the new technology help to reduce lead times, increase productivity, and improve our overall profitability?”

“The answer is simple. The extension to our building is complete, and the new Durma HD-F 3015 4kW fibre laser with a cutting length of 3000mm and cutting width of 1500mm was installed in April 2016.”

“There are many reasons why we have installed the Durma HD-F 3015 4kW fibre laser. When we looked at a reduction in overall operating expenses, the prospect of up to three times faster feed rates, and that we could reduce cost per part while producing more parts per hour it was no brainer.”


Final product ready for delivery

“Just on the smart meter side we are manufacturing over 6000 enclosures a month and we cannot afford to have any downtime.”

In this department the company can now cut up to 20mm in mild steel and comfortably bend up to 12mm. They do cut other materials where necessary.

New building
The new building, which is situated 100 metres up the road from the existing facility, has been completely refurbished and renovated. It houses the electrical wiring, assembly and finishing departments. Another recent purchase is also housed in an atmospheric controlled room in this building.

With an increase in contracts that Edge Line Engineering had won for enclosures, the company had to purchase a polyurethane Foam-In-Place Gasketing (FIPG) machine to cater for its requirements. Liquid gasketing is a popular, cost-effective way to replace moulded, die cut and other types of gaskets in automotive and other applications. One or two-component materials, including urethanes, elastomers and silicones, are used to form a seal that prevents leaking and keeps the outside environment from invading the system, a must for most of these enclosures.

Company structure
Edge Line Engineering is a proudly South African, level 2 BEE company that was established from various shareholders specialising in the electrical and mechanical engineering field. The company employs 80 staff and has three directors. They are Prince Mcineka, Verny Turton and Megan Caldwell.

The shareholders believe it’s productivity, efficiency, and defect-free production that will best serve their customers and the company’s bottom line, and that this will also allow Edge Line Engineering to compete.

Going forward Edge Line Engineering is looking at bringing other disciplines in-house. This includes adding turning and machining capabilities to the fabrication division.

“In business, success is often the product of a company’s vision – the aspirations for the future and the plans for creating opportunities and managing growth. Differentiation from the competition is an important factor in uncovering and realising those opportunities,” said one of the shareholders.

“This typically means doing things better, more efficiently, and more economically than anyone else. Continually challenging the way things have been done in the past and viewing them from a new perspective ultimately leads to innovation and a strong competitive edge.”

For further details contact Edge Line Engineering on TEL: 011 680 5492 or visit