Downtime is costly for any business, but when manufacturing performance door sets and fire doors for the public and commercial sectors, short lead times, consistency and guaranteed delivery slots are non-negotiable. For Hartlepool-based Bridgman IBC, this has meant investing strategically in reliable machinery and, where necessary, doubling up on its most vital machines with the help of global reconditioned machinery supplier, Ferwood. 

“Every manufacturer can relate to the frustration of machines breaking down, and in our line of work, we can’t afford to miss deadlines,” begins Peter Bowes, operations director at Bridgman IBC. “We trade principally on our ability to deliver product on time and, as a result, we go to extra lengths to eradicate any issues that may arise before they have the potential to disrupt our manufacturing capabilities and lengthen our lead times. 

“To combat this issue, we’ve got a back-up for every process that takes place in our plant. We have more than one press, several means of cutting product to size and more than two CNC machines for cutting glass and lock mortises into doors. It’s been a big investment to get us to this point but it’s important for us to identify areas of strategic weakness within our business. This has highlighted our need for an alternative edgebanding facility so we are not hindered by a machinery breakdown going forward.”

Peter admits that the company’s existing Homag edgebander works well with the dense timber needed to apply wood lippings to its FD30 to FD120 fire door range, but he knows even the best machines can break down unexpectedly, and was keen to guard against any potential interruption to production.

“It was clear that we needed a new edgebander to eradicate this doubt,” he continues. “We run both new and used machinery, each differing greatly in the level of technology and the number of features they offer. On this occasion, we didn’t need a machine with a plethora of fancy gadgets included. It needed to stick a lip on a door and trim it flush. 

“That said, the machine needed to be robust enough to cope with upwards of 200 hardwood lippings a day, each measuring up to 20mm thick – not the usual 6mm lippings used on a standard domestic door housing – and be able to work with the same polyurethane hotmelt adhesive we’ve been using for a number of years. This would eliminate any problems with quality or continuity, while also reducing the need to stockpile different adhesives. 

“We also get asked to put a lot of intricate ironmongery into the edge of doors and rebates, as well as various profiles, so the new edgebander also needed to work efficiently with chunky pieces of material.”

After being signposted to Ferwood following a recommendation from a colleague, and following the installation of a fully reconditioned Ferwood Approved UV tunnel on its lacquer line earlier in the year, Peter knew Ferwood was a company that delivered on its promises. He adds: “I was impressed by their level of service and the reconditioning process and, after highlighting a need for a second edgebander, Ferwood were able to modify a machine to fit our needs perfectly. In fact, they built it especially for us.”  

Due to the rarity of machines on the market that were capable of working with wide hardwood lippings, finding a used machine with the exact configuration needed by Bridgman IBC was not going to be easy. But, with hundreds of used machines in its inventory, Ferwood was able to reconfigure the door manufacturer a machine to suit its specification. 

Ferwood’s engineers used the frame of one machine, stripping it down and leaving only the controls in place, and remounted the necessary machining units onto it. It was built to fulfil the company’s exact requirements and, because it had been assembled and tested in line with Ferwood’s premium reconditioning programme, Ferwood Approved, the bespoke edgebander was installed into its new home by a specialist engineer. The purchase also came with ongoing technical support from Ferwood’s after-sales team and a six-month warranty for extra peace of mind.  

“During the build process, Ferwood asked us to ship materials over to them so they could test the machine on our own door blanks, cores and lipping materials so we could see what the machine was capable of. It looked and ran like new,” admits Peter.

After a visit to the factory in Italy to see the machine in action, the installation took place a few weeks later. The time from the first call to Ferwood’s sales team to the machine running its first door set was just under three months. 

Peter adds:

“The benefits of buying a similar machine meant that our operators needed minimal training on the machine and its software. The engineer left no stone unturned and the installation was quick and easy. In fact, the whole team was knowledgeable, straight talking and responsive, and that allowed us to achieve exactly what we had set out to do. We highlighted a potential risk of business continuity that has now been dispelled thanks to Ferwood’s ability to source the right machine for us. 

“It was never a hard sell with Ferwood. It was more of a collaboration than a sales process. It wasn’t a cheap solution but we got what we paid for – a fully reconditioned edgebander that fits the bill. It has everything we need and nothing more. Going forward, Ferwood will be my first port of call.”

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