British company, Tiflex Ltd, has been manufacturing cork and rubber bonded materials for over 70 years. The company specialises in the design, manufacture and distribution of industrial rubber products – including rubber sheeting, matting, and gaskets – across a range of industries, from construction and transportation, to marine and agriculture.
Based in Cornwall and employing 160 people, Tiflex has four divisions – TRACKELAST, TREADMASER, TICO and Oxbridge cricket balls. The company, which has a strong commitment to quality, was accredited to ISO 9001 in 2015, and offers custom design and manufacturing services, which allow customers to create bespoke products that meet their specific needs.
Historically, the company faced challenges in manufacturing shaped parts due to the high cost and low production rates associated with traditional moulding methods. As the business expanded, it recognised the limitations of this approach, particularly for bespoke and low-volume parts. The company sought innovative solutions to improve production capabilities and cater to a more diverse customer base.
“With AXYZ routers, Tiflex achieved greater accuracy and precision in cutting, resulting in significantly improved product quality”
In 2007, Tiflex decided to adopt AXYZ routers, part of AAG, a leading global manufacturer of CNC routers and waterjet cutting solutions. With over 30 years of experience, they have built and installed thousands of CNC routers and waterjet cutting systems across a wide array of industries.
Tiflex started with a router to revolutionise its production process and offer a broader range of cutting services to its customers. The success of the first router led to the acquisition of a second machine in 2013, enabling the company to enhance productivity and efficiency significantly.
The primary use of these automation machines was cutting rubber sheets and pads into specific shapes. Over time, the scope expanded to include cutting large volumes of plastic sheets as well. Although the routers were occasionally employed for cutting small metal parts or moulds for internal use, this was not their primary function.
“The integration of AXYZ routers significantly improved Tiflex’s productivity and efficiency,” says Matthew Orton, operations director at Tiflex Ltd. “The routers allowed the company to cut parts much quicker than traditional moulding methods. This improvement in production speed opened up opportunities to offer a wider range of products, which was not feasible before due to limitations in moulding sizes.”
The implementation of AXYZ routers required some changes for Tiflex. Employees needed to learn how to operate the machines and understand their capabilities effectively. Additionally, cutting a diverse range of materials required learning optimal settings and techniques for each material. With the invaluable support and advice from AXYZ, Tiflex made these changes and fine-tuned their processes for improved productivity and efficiency.
The use of AXYZ routers led to substantial cost savings for Tiflex. The high cost of moulds for low-volume parts was eliminated, making it feasible for the company to produce a broader range of parts at lower volumes. This capability enabled Tiflex to secure orders that were previously unattainable, ultimately contributing to increased profitability. With AXYZ routers, Tiflex achieved greater accuracy and precision in cutting, resulting in significantly improved product quality. The company could offer a wider range of products with shorter lead times, meeting customer demands more effectively.
“The introduction of the WARDJET waterjet in 2022 has opened up even more markets, enabling us to cut extremely small product with a precision and accuracy which would not be possible with more traditional cutting methods”
“Employees at Tiflex welcomed the introduction of AXYZ routers, as they significantly improved production techniques and offered solutions to customer problems,” explains Matthew. “The machines have become a key part of the company’s operations, and more staff have been trained to operate them across all shifts, including the night shift.
“The introduction of the WARDJET waterjet in 2022 has opened up even more markets, enabling us to cut extremely small product with a precision and accuracy which would not be possible with more traditional cutting methods. We are able to produce one offs or volume runs quickly and efficiently. We were blown away by with the results that the WARDJET waterjet cutter delivered.”
To ensure smooth operation, Tiflex invests in annual service plans offered by CNCSHOP, the after-sales service and OEM supplier of consumables, spare parts and upgrades for AXYZ CNC routers and WARDJet waterjets.
The company remains open to future integration of automation in their processes. Another AXYZ router is being considered to increase cutting capabilities for larger pieces of material, demonstrating Tiflex’s commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.
By embracing automation, Tiflex has positioned itself as a leading player in the manufacturing industry, catering to a diverse customer base with a wide range of products and cutting services. The future holds great promise as Tiflex explores additional automation opportunities to further enhance its production capabilities and maintain its commitment to delivering top-quality products and services.