When Sheffield-based Gripple UK – a world-leading manufacturer of wire joining, wire tensioning and wire suspension systems – wanted a suitable means of manufacturing a ground-breaking new product, the company turned to TRUMPF, its trusted supplier of sheet-metal processing machinery.
Duly acquiring a TruPunch 3000 to complement an existing TruPunch 1000 model installed three years ago, the machine has been set to work producing Fast Trak™, Gripple’s new series of rapid trapeze brackets that are considered a revolution in pre-fabricated containment supports.
Gripple has come a long way since being founded by wire salesman and budding entrepreneur Hugh Facey in 1985. Hugh’s idea of a small ‘widget’ with spring-loaded steel balls to join two wires together was intended to help farmers erect field fencing, which until then had to have its horizontal line wires knotted together manually. The Gripple wire joiner proved a roaring success. Since then, a much-expanded product range, diversification into the construction and industrial markets, and the addition of facilities worldwide, has seen Gripple recently celebrate the sale of its 600 millionth unit. Today, 85% of business at this multiple Queens Award winner is exported, with annual turnover currently standing at circa £65 million.
To ensure Gripple hits its target of generating 25% of annual sales from new products, innovation is high on the company’s agenda. So when the idea for Fast Trak™ was first hatched, expectations were high. This pre-fabricated, trapeze bracket solution offers exceptionally quick installation – up to six times faster than traditional suspension systems – when installing electrical containment, pipework, ductwork and other MEP (mechanical, electrical and public health) services in restricted places.
With the company’s sales department anticipating high global demand, attention switched to Gripple’s production team, which was tasked with implementing the processes necessary to commence manufacture.
“We have been progressively moving towards more in-house manufacturing over the past few years to give us greater control over production schedules. We already have a TRUMPF TruPunch 1000 punching machine, which was selected primarily for its flexibility in terms of set-up and operation. However, the TruPunch 1000 was at full capacity and it was clear that Fast Trak™ would demand another machine,” explains David Grant, production manager at Gripple UK.
A TRUMPF TruPunch 3000 was duly acquired, with flexibility once more proving high on the purchase-decision list.
“Although the TruPunch 3000 would essentially be dedicated to one product, it’s great to have a machine that is easy to configure as it means we can adapt to any design iterations that arise. On top of flexibility, we were also drawn to the machine’s productivity levels,” comments David.
With its skeleton-free processing, the TruPunch 3000 saves material as an inherent part of its operation, while the machine’s well thought-out automation provides users with high productivity and convenience. Furthermore, thanks to the electric punching head, fabricators can punch with an average power input of only 5.6kW, making the TruPunch 3000 very energy efficient.
Installed in August 2017, the machine has been set to work producing parts for the 11 different sizes of the Fast Trak™ range. The components are punched from 2mm thick mild steel and measure up to 1200mm in length. Essentially, Fast Trak™ is a simple U-channel in shape, although some of its parts require the generation of complex forms.
“TRUMPF showed us the optimum way of producing the forms using TRUMPF tooling and TruTops Punch software. The TRUMPF team has always been highly responsive to any requests for assistance,” says David.
With Fast Trak™ officially launched, the machine is busy manufacturing for stock, although a few large orders have already arrived from the USA and the UK.
“If we hit the anticipated sales volumes we will in all likelihood require another TruPunch 3000 to meet demand. As with all of our in-house manufacturing strategies, we only want to work with the best technology, as this means we get the best cycle times and the best savings,” concludes David.
Having joined the magazine in 2012, Claire developed her knowledge of the industry through the numerous company visits, exhibitions and conferences she attended both in the UK and abroad.
Responsible for social media and the online platforms, Claire prides herself on keeping readers well informed and up to date with the latest industry news.