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Fabrinox supports local agricultural innovation

Andre Visser at Fabrinox. Andre Visser at Fabrinox.

Agriculture is one of the oldest human undertakings and has come a long way since stone tools and ox-powered machinery. Automation is the name of the game on the modern farm – and is on the increase – allowing farmers and agri-processors to standardise operations and utilise costly manpower in the most efficient ways. The ROI on this is best seen in the toughest years, when drought and even fires necessitate maximum efficiency in every step of the agricultural process.   

In full view of the Stellenbosch and Boland mountains, Paarl-based Fabrinox is ideally placed to support agricultural equipment manufacturers with innovative solutions for stainless steel, mild steel and aluminium. This support includes batch manufacturing, bespoke project management and technical and manufacturing insights from professionals in the field, as well as a delivery service to its local customers.  

The company offers customers a one-stop manufacturing solution with precision engineering services such as, cutting, bending, welding (including robot welding), surface finishes (polishing, bead blasting, spray painting), to name but a few.

Fabrinox operates a production area of around 5,000m2 with an additional 4,300m2 facilities for large assemblies, packaging and distribution nearby – with a global workforce of almost 200 highly skilled personnel, specialising in sheet metal component manufacturing, sub-assemblies, under licence manufacturing and global installations, all within an ISO 9001 and ISO 3834 environment.

The Fabrinox team of project managers can assist clients from the design stages, giving design input and compiling the data pack, to manufacturing (including electrical control panels and installations,) installations and commissioning of equipment.

The company has aggressively grown its business in recent years, investing heavily into the equipment and the processes it can offer its clients, while ensuring its efficiency.

Fabrinox just finished installing a Trumpf LiftMaster 2040 to handle the material requirements for its Trumpf TruLaser 5040 Fiber L47 machine. The basic building blocks of the LiftMaster is the suction frame, made up of suction cups that transport the raw sheets, and rakes to clear the processed sheets.

“The LiftMaster takes over the strain of loading and unloading the machine, therefore speeding up production and increasing worker safety,” says Ben Steenkamp, who has been a key part of the Fabrinox team since 1998.

At the end of last year, Retecon Machine Tools installed a new Trumpf TruBend 5230 S press brake (230 ton) in the Fabrinox stable. This fully CNC-controlled machine has a bending width of four meters and up to six CNC-controlled backstop axes.

Retecon also installed a Weber PT1350 DP6D deburring machine in December 2015. The Weber PT is a universal grinding machine of a new generation for deburring, rounding, descaling and surface grinding of both thin and thicker gauge materials.

“It gives us access to up to four grinding stations that allow for different machining applications and workpiece thickness of between 1,6 to 100mm,” he adds.

 In 2009 Fabrinox commissioned its first Motoman robotic welder. This robot is equipped with both MIG and TIG welding applications.

“We found it necessary to purchase the Motoman robotic welder to clear the bottlenecks we found forming in this area,” explains Steenkamp.

 The company also contracted First Cut to install a BLM Elect 80 tube bender in 2013. This fully CNC-programmable machine can bend up to 80mm OD by 2mm wall thickness and 73,03mm by 3,05mm wall thickness in stainless steel and mild steel tube. It operates in a push and pull bending sequence, with a long radius roll.

According to the company,its ACF Multiflex corner former machine is the first of its kind in the Western Cape. The machine uses a cold process to form corners and is significantly more cost effective for control cabinets. It eliminates the need for welding, grinding and finishing the corners of cabinet doors, panels and baking trays.

“The machine can form corners on various metals, including mild steel up to 4mm, stainless steel up to 3mm and aluminium up to 5mm. Nothing is new about the demands driving bends in roll bending. Four roll plate bending rolls are largely considered the most versatile, precise and user-friendly plate rolls,” says Ben Steenkamp.

Fabrinox chose the two meter Faccin CNC 4HEL202 four roll model, supplied by Talmac Machine Tools. This model is ideal for heavier thicknesses and the challenges that the new metals and material with higher yield strengths pose today, and can form various shapes.

Fabrinox also operates a stainless steel bead-blasting booth that uses glass beads, which is customised for stainless steel and ensures the finish to be up to the standard and quality that Fabrinox both demand from itself, and promise its customers.

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