I think what sets Techserv apart in terms of manufacturing is the use of modern manufacturing methods to make our machines. We make profile cutting machines and water-jet cutting machines - it seems sensible to use profile cutting machines and water-jet cutting machines to manufacture our machines - it seems ludicrous not to utilise the technology we sell.
As a consequence most of our machines use a lot of water-jet cut parts.
The advantage of using water-jet cut parts is that you integrate every hole, so if we're making the side of a machine, we can integrate every hole into the side of that machine when we cut it out from water-jet. This means the machines are more of a modular kit form, where we assemble rather than fabricate.
Techserv do very little welding, very little grinding and very little of the old manual labour type processes. Manufacturing cutting machines becomes more of an assembly process where we'll chuck a sheet of aluminium on the water-jet, cut all the parts out with minimum wastage, powder coat and assemble. This means that a machine turn-around time can be down to as little as a week. Since one of the larger costs we have are labour costs reducing this cost means we can reduce the final price of the machine to the customer.
A good example is the Blue Marlin, its cutting bed is laser cut and folded with key slots. We order this in from a local supplier, it comes folded, ready to assemble. When it arrives on the floor here we can bolt the bed together in about an hour, saving a huge amount of money on the fabrication
Prior to this we used to have a welded box section fabrication; this new system is stiffer, lower cost, easier to assemble. We can integrate every mounting hole we require so there's no need to drill anything. Again the effect this has is it reduces our labour content, it also reduces the material content and material cost and, although it is a little more expensive to get the thing cut and folded it all adds up to a cost saving on the machine.This enables us to spend more money on the critical components such as linear slides and gear boxes.
All the gear boxes on the machine are mounted on a pair of linear slides with pneumatic ram behind them. This is quite an expensive and sophisticated way to mount a motor but it works for us because it's very reliable, very high quality, it gives us very little trouble in the field. Also, it allows for any wear in the rack or misalignment in the rack so if someone hits the machine with a fork truck it's not going to cause issues at a later date.This is important because cutting machines have a hard life when they're out in the field - they are not a laboratory machines, they are profile cutting machines for producing plate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Thus by clever design, reducing the amount of labour and sensible use of water-jet parts and aluminium, Techserv reduce the cost of their machines and this cost saving is passed on to the customer.
Techserv machines tend to be lower cost than most of the competition in the UK.Some people have questioned this - 'why does your machine cost less than manufacturer X, Y or Z?'Generally speaking it's because Techserv designed the machine to be easy to make and have used our own control system, so we're not paying for a second set of salesmen and a second set of vehicles and we keep as much of the cost in-house as possible where we have direct control over it. This control then gives us greater control of the machines, greater control of the performance of the machines.If we decide we'd like to make a change and add a new feature, then we don't have a six month wait for it to go through appraisals to decide if it's a worthwhile thing to do, we just do it, so if a customer says he would like to be able to maybe cut a box section with his machine, for example, then we can change the design, change the software in a matter of days or weeks.
We do offer this bespoke level of service regularly.We're proud to say that our machine designs are fluid and are updated on a regular basis. In today's age of computers and control systems and ease of manufacture, I find it amazing to see that anybody would have a machine that uses a five or ten-year old design - it's bizarre. It's not the way we work at Techserv.