Gothaer Fahrzeugtechnik (GFT) is specialised in very complex tubular and steel structures using fine-grain construction steel. Established in Gotha in 1997 and employing about 90 workers, today GFT has more than has quadrupled the number of personnel in two different plants and supplies products to customers worldwide.
Before meeting BLM GROUP, workers at GFT used to shear tubes using a plasma system and then grind the joints manually. Weld seam preparation was a dirty, labour intensive task. What is more, quality variations were inevitable and these complicated the robot welding of the structures.
Laser tube cutting also had its challenges. Some tubes could be more than 8 metres (26’) long, ad programming was a challenge because of difficulties importing CAD drawings in SXF format that was used to design the product. The format had been used for 10 to 15 years old to make 4000 or so different products.
When it comes to crane frame structures no quality trade-offs can be accepted.
All these problems were solved in spring 2014 with the commissioning of the new LT14 for 3D section and tube laser cutting.
The success of the installation and commissioning of the LT14 were the result of the close collaboration between GFT and BLM GROUP. The new LT14 laser cutting system offered an array of advantages to GFT and to their customers. Firstly, fewer manual operations and shorter processing cycles, contributed to more flexibility and higher quality. Cutting accuracy also ensured perfect joint fit with lower associated fabrication costs. Today, with laser, even the most complex joints are stable even before being welded.
The practical tube loading and unloading operations make the machine operators job much easier and interesting as well.
The initial investment was quickly paid back by the production speed, increased accuracy, and ease of use. By exploiting the laser cutting capabilities they can improve product quality for customers and create new opportunities. All at a considerable cost saving compared to the old manual processes.
Laser versatility and flexibility can be exploited to process complex parts efficiently for accurate, clean and high-quality results.