Recol Engineering Ltd, a Northampton-based subcontract supplier of complete metal-based manufacturing solutions, has become the UK’s first user of Amada’s new HG ARs automated press brake system. The adoption of robot-tended bending operations is not only providing a reduction in labour costs for this forward-thinking manufacturer, but thanks to the system’s integral automatic tool changer (ATC), has cut set-up times from 45 minutes to just 90 seconds in some instances.

Recol has been a user of Amada technology since it was established nearly 40 years ago. Today, the company has an array of Amada machines, including an LC3015F1 CNC profiling centre with material tower and an ACIES CNC punch/laser combination machine with load/unload automation.

“We had automated other aspects of our process chain with great success, so bending seemed a natural progression,” says Director, Mr Guntrip. “Amada have never given us a reason to look elsewhere, so when we heard about the HG ARs at EuroBlech 2014, we were keen to learn more.”

The HG ARs is a fully integrated robotic press brake system with a six-axis robot, automatic gripper changer (AGC) and ATC with patented Amada tooling. Each stage of the bending process, including tool loading, gripper exchange and robotic bending, is performed at fast speeds to maintain high levels of unmanned machine productivity. It supports workpieces up to 1000 x 800mm, with a weight capacity of 20kg.

Recol’s trip to EuroBlech was followed by a visit to Amada’s European Robot Technical Centre in Italy, which had a working prototype of the HG ARs. Mr Guntrip took along a few jobs and the automated press brake system performed extremely well considering the short amount of time available.

Duly installed in February 2016, the machine has been set to work producing a range of different components, some of which are extremely complex, for industries that include telecommunications, construction, food and pharmaceuticals.

“Customers today want more than simply a good price, they want a package that comprises right-first-time, on-time, good quality product – and the same next time,” concludes Mr Guntrip. “They want a partnership based on added value solutions, which is where we excel. We work with our customers to help develop parts that are suited to the manufacturing technologies available, passing on any resulting savings. This proactive stance has helped us retain some customers for over 30 years. Indeed, with regard to the HG ARs, we’ve had customers come in to see what jobs might possibly lend themselves to our new investment.  For us, this signifies that we have made the right decision.”

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