With a new order underway for a customer in Dubai following success in supplying distributors across Europe, GRP Tools, specialist supplier of glass fibre applicators and ancillaries to the trade, are well on their way to their 1500 unit daily output of rollers.
Serving wholesale distributors to the Fibreglass composite industry worldwide, GRP have become a major player with over 20 per cent exports and large UK recognition.
Situated near Southampton, the company is in the centre of UK boat building industry but also has built up a major market in the developing polymer, laminated flat roofing category.
The hand roller applicators form the bulk of the business. These can be produced in many sizes and formats, each for a specific use and comprise aluminium finned and paddle, plastic, steel and rotating washer applicators. GRP now undertakes manufacture of these from start to finish.
From steel wire feedstock, roller wires are cut and bent into the required shape. A handle, also manufactured on site, is pressed on, completing the manufacture of the wire frame. A variety of applicators are then assembled to the wire frame. The applicators are machined onsite from either solid bar or extruded material.
Before automating the wire bending and handle assembly operation, several staff were employed on manual, single operation, wire bending and crimping activities.
MD, Peter Hussey was looking for a way to automate the whole process as demand was growing and the need to offset increasing costs was becoming paramount. Having researched manufacturers in Europe and the UK, Peter was impressed with the technical competence of Whitelegg Machines of Crawley and proof of their ability as shown in a video. This offered flexibility in wire sizes and lengths, speed of operation and rapid change over including intuitive, touch screen control.
Meetings with the company resulted in Whitelegg developing a fully automatic, wire-bending, nibbling and plastic handle insertion system.
The machine, designated the PRL-8, is loaded with previously cut wires of appropriate length. The magazine has an estimated capacity of 100 wires @ 8mm Dia., typically giving a running time of around 8 minutes. A single wire is released into the nibbing station where two hydraulic units form the handle nib and a second nib as required. The pick and place unit then removes the wire, indexes the blank and loads it into the bending head. Here it is clamped and the head forms the bend nearest to the handle, it then indexes, retracting to position to form the second bend. At this point the handle is clamped and the third bend is formed.
The formed component is then moved to the handle inserter where a plastic handle has been collected from the magazine by the handle pick & place. The handle inserter pushes the plastic handle onto the wire frame which is then removed from and dropped into the unload chute; the cycle time being 5–7s. The arrival of the Whitelegg machine has enabled GRP to increase output to meet current and future demand. It has also allowed the company to offset continuing increases in wages and employment costs.
For more information about Whitelegg machines please go to www.whiteleggmachines.com.