Brian Bluett has a vision: to deliver cut-to-size MDF and Plywood faster than any other supplier across England and Wales. The mastermind behind two e-commerce cutting sites – MDF Direct and Ply Direct – Brian has created a business model that relies on speed, reliability and accuracy and at the centre of his business, are two newly installed Striebig Control vertical panel saws.
“The business originally started with me outsourcing my online orders to local timber merchants. Whilst this proved relatively cost-effective when you consider the overheads associated with your own warehouse and staff in London, it offered me no control over the cutting process and missing pieces and inaccurate cuts were becoming an issue. Quick turn-around times were also proving challenging. I knew I needed to bring the operation in-house in order to move the company forward and to build a reputation as an efficient provider of cut-to-size sheet material that could promise delivery in the UK within 48 hours.”
To do this, Brian needed a saw that could offer high quality, repeatable cuts quickly and efficiently and accommodate 2880 x 2070 MDF and Plywood sheets. The saw also needed to be simple to operate and offer flexible machining that would make switching between larger orders and single cut orders seamless, whilst withstanding 16-hour shifts, seven days a week.
Following a recommendation from Brian’s brother, who has been using his Striebig vertical panel saw every day for the last 15 years, and a machinery demonstration at TM Machinery’s Leicester-based showroom, Brian’s first Striebig Control was installed alongside a powerful ALKO dust extraction unit earlier this year.
“From the build quality to the final cut, the Striebig Control offered me the precision and reliability I was looking for and the speed I needed to guarantee super-fast delivery. Teamed with the ALKO Power Unit, it presented a clean and effective solution,” explains Brian. “Space wasn’t an issue for us in our workshop so we opted for a frame that could work easily with sheet material up to two metres long. This allows us to work effectively on a wide range of cutting jobs and gives us the flexibility to diversify and grow the business in the future. The added benefit of the saw’s optimisation software also gives us options going forward.”
For the operators, it’s been the saws ease of us and speed that have made the biggest impact. Martin Banach, Machine Operator at MDF Direct says, “The saw features a fully automated cut cycle and lots of other automated features that genuinely make our lives easier and allows us to work to very short lead times. It has a simple colour display screen that directs us through the cutting process, too. We don’t need to manually size sheet material, gauge the correct feed speed or work out the best way to get the most out of each sheet – the saw does it for us.”
Martin continues, “We do a lot of strip cuts for wall panels. The Control makes light work of jobs like this. It’s quick to set-up and with features like digital measuring systems on both axes, beam and saw head positioning and panel end detection, repeat cuts are easy to process and are always accurate. You can’t guarantee this level of precision on a manual wall saw or table saw. Plus, thanks to its user-friendly design, training the team on the machine is easy which means multiple operators, regardless of their skill level, can use the machine well.”
Less than 12-months on, Brian has taken delivery of a second Striebig Control to increase the company’s growth. “It was always my intention to invest in a second Striebig to increase capacity but due to demand, the purchase has come sooner than expected. This is partially due to us now offering a ‘while you wait’ cutting service for local businesses. We now have a machine that focuses solely on fulfilling online orders and a second machine that is free to complete walk-in orders. This has given us the potential to increase production four-fold and reduce lead times even further without having to grow our workforce or lengthen shift times. This wouldn’t have been achievable without the saw’s accuracy, reliability and speed.”
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