Maref takes welding to the next level

To be able to supply high-quality sheet metal parts at a good price, Maref Metaalbewerking BV only invests in state-of-the-art technology in the areas of cutting, bending and welding. After investing in fully automatic laser cutting and bending systems, a large welding robot installation was put into operation last year, which will enable Maref to serve a high segment in the welding field as well.

Maref Metaalbewerking BV

Owner Marcel van den Bosch wants to succeed with sheet metal processing and welding and construction work with high quality and delivery reliability in order to be able to enter into a long-term partnership with his customers. In the past 30 years, the company has built up a large customer base in a large number of sectors, including Agri, food, automotive, mechanical engineering and environmental technology. To this end, over the past five years significant investments have been made in the latest Trumpf press brake and laser cutting technology, software and angle measurement systems. “In addition to the high level of efficiency, these systems deliver semi-finished products in very close tolerances, which is a required for high-quality welding. As a result, the demand for welding and construction work has also grown enormously and we have taken the step of expanding into welding robotisation,” explains Marcel van den Bosch.

High quality and efficiency give Maref strong competitive position

New building for welding production

In addition to the possibility of welding workpieces up to 3.5 m on the existing Valk Welding welding robot cells, Marcel van den Bosch also wanted to be able to weld larger products up to a maximum of 7.5 x 5 m on the robot. “At the end of 2019, Valk Welding started building an XYZ cell for this purpose, which is controllable and programmable offline in all axes using the DTPS off-line programming system. In order to be able to use it optimally also from a logistical point of view, we had a new hall of 4,000 m2 built for this purpose, which was put into use last year together with the welding robot installation. All welding and construction work is now accommodated there.

Height-adjustable positioners

The large welding robot installation consists of two working stations, both suitable for maximum product dimensions of 7.5 x 5 m, so that workpieces can be welded at one station while workpieces can be changed at the adjacent station. “Workpieces of such large dimensions can now be welded on both sides in one set-up. For this purpose, the stations are equipped with height-adjustable positioners with a capacity of 5 tonnes each. Whenever one side is welded, the positioners lift 2.5 m so that the workpiece can be rotated, after which the second side can be welded. This saves an enormous amount of time when it comes to unrigging, rotating and aligning after welding” explains the entrepreneur.

Professionals move to the office

Both the laser cutting cells with automatic feeding and sorted stacking and the welding robot installations are programmed by educated professionals in the office. But the rest of the work preparation has also undergone the same efficiency drive as production. The ERP system is linked to the Trumpf systems, giving status and material management direct insight into delivery times and allowing data to be converted directly into production. This digitisation has led to a shift of activities from the shop floor to the office.

Sheet-metal work and welding and construction work now perfectly geared to each other

Investments in sheet-metal work and welding technology in recent years mean that the two processes are now perfectly aligned in terms of accuracy and efficiency. “Perfectly aligned work makes it possible to use welding robots to produce high-quality welding. The large cell is currently still manned for 1.5 shifts but is expected to be optimally manned in a 2-shift operation soon. Later this year, we want to expand further with 2 welding robot cells in an E-frame set-up. Despite Covid, we will continue with our investment plans”, concludes Marcel van den Bosch.


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