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Harbrook Engineering, an agricultural machinery manufacturer, has invested in a Bystronic Byjet Pro waterjet cutting system and equipment valued at more than GBP300,000.

The waterjet cutting system is equipped with two pneumatic drills and a changeover table.

The company had been using CNC plasma-arc cutting machine until 2002, at which point it decided to invest in a more powerful one.

Mike Harper, Harbrook Engineering’s managing director, said: ‘About 10 years ago, Harbrook Engineering moved into manufacturing food-processing equipment, but we were unable to achieve the quality of cut with the plasma machine.

‘The problem with plasma cutting is that, while it is good for steel, it does not provide the excellence of finish we require on thinner materials, nor does it achieve the necessary hole quality on stainless steel or aluminium.

‘Therefore, we have to subcontract out work.

‘In addition, we have recently become involved in the manufacturing of car turntables,’ he added.

These car turntables reduce vehicle turning circle problems and are designed to eliminate the problems associated with having to manoeuvre vehicles in a tight space.

As some parts of the turntables are manufactured in aluminium, Harper said that waterjet cutting was the best option for their manufacturing because of the precision of cut that would be achieved.

He said: ‘Our plasma cutter is fine for 80 per cent of our run-of-the-mill jobs in steels, but for these turntables, where we require a high-quality cut and high-quality holes, and for the food-processing work, waterjet cutting would provide the precision cut we require.’ Harbrook Engineering looked at a number of waterjet suppliers, looking at the quality of cut, the quality of holes produced, a machine’s ability to handle sheet sizes 3m x 1.5m and the footprint of the machine.

Harper said: ‘When we visited Bystronic waterjet users in Switzerland, we saw them running fully enclosed machines resulting in reduced noise levels and a cleaner working environment.

‘The advantage of the Byjet Pro is that it is enclosed and, even when the machine is running, it does not need light guards.

‘This means that it can be placed next to other machines and those machines can still be operational and operators can get close to them.

‘Competitor machines have an open bed and therefore other equipment cannot be operated close by.

‘The pneumatic drills provide additional versatility in terms of materials used.

‘We will be able to work with a wider range of materials in a wider range of thicknesses.

‘Importantly, we will also increase production as the waterjet will eliminate downstream operations as we will be achieving the excellent hole quality,’ he added.

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