When BJ McDonald, Facilities Manager and Co-Owner at Midland Metal Products, was shopping for a new laser cutting system, he was not a brand loyalist. As a Just In Time job shop working primarily with cold rolled steel, aluminum and stainless, Midland had a heap of sales volume from industries like retail, gaming, agriculture and furniture. With a need for a no-nonsense, low maintenance solution that could handle it all, McDonald did not care what company it came from. He just needed it to be the best.
Midland’s first of many CI purchases occurred in 2005: The CL-707 Laser Center teamed with the Modular Material Handling System (MMHS) to prep and cut quality product exponentially faster than before.
Why Midland chose Cincinnati
While other laser manufacturers McDonald considered promised the world in return for their business, the CI team kept it real. “When we tried to identify the things we needed to do, other companies said ‘Yes, we can do that!’ but couldn’t prove it out,” he said. “Conversely, CI told us ‘We don’t offer that right now, but let’s talk about how we can provide a custom option for you.’ From the start, they were more consultative. They were the total value solution we were searching for.”
“That honesty is the foundation of the relationship we now have with CI,” he continued. “Our first CI order was a leap of faith, but over time it has become a partnership. It’s rare in this industry to have a true partner in your machine tool manufacturer.”
Impressive Laser Performance
Upon installing the CL-707 and MMHS, Midland enjoyed drastically shorter lead times. In fact, they were able to eliminate 30 to 40 OBI Punch Presses with just two CI lasers.
“The linear drive motors are virtually maintenance-free,” McDonald said. We run a simple program to keep the surface clean. Other than that, there’s nothing to grease. No screws, bearings or any other complicated pieces of moving machinery.”
Differentiating Controls and Software
“The CI controls, the GUI and its design are clean and intuitive, even for an entry-level operator. Since we have two lasers and a material handling system, there are similarities in design from control to control. So going from laser to material handling doesn’t require any new training.”
Midland wasn’t content with nesting software alone. They also needed robust ERP/MRP scheduling. McDonald used an apt analogy to describe the company’s need for scheduling software. “If the laser system is an airport and the parts coming in and out are airplanes, the operation can’t happen without air traffic control,” he said. “The scheduler, in a way, is that air traffic control system.”
That’s precisely where CI Scheduler came in. It schedules and nests parts on one or more CINCINNATI lasers, prioritizes jobs by due date and is packaged in a user-friendly calendar interface. It’s a CI exclusive, and according to McDonald, “no other company had anything like it. Without it, we would not have been as successful with our laser operation.”
Funny enough, CI Scheduler did not exist before Midland requested it. You could even say Midland was the spark that led to Scheduler’s creation. Once it was clear Midland needed it—and we saw a need with our other customers—CI Scheduler was up and running within six months. “Other machine tool manufacturers told us to just go third party for a scheduler, but we knew there was no true buy-in to have it work properly,” McDonald said. “CI took the bull by the horns and made it happen.”
The Handshake with Press Brakes
Almost immediately after installing the CL-707 and MMHS, Midland’s remarkable laser productivity shifted the bottleneck to press brakes. “Once we established the laser operation,” McDonald said, “we re-tooled our press brake department to include a connection with the laser side. We used the CI Unfolder software for that. Now that we have six CI press brakes that are all networked and using Unfolder, we streamline the parts going onto press brakes.”
“I gauge maintenance history pretty critically here, and I am enjoying a 99.1+% uptime with CI products. It’s greatly enhanced my production. Setup times have gone from hours to minutes. And if we didn’t introduce the CI laser system and material handling system, I believe we would be out of business at this point.”
Need an Unbeatable Laser Cutting System? Talk to CINCINNATI.
“We don’t look to CI to sell us a machine, or another, or another,” McDonald said. “We need company-wide systems that take cold rolled steel and go cradle to grave with it.
“CI is not just a machine tool manufacturer. They’re a system builder.”
Midland is targeting 2019 for a move to a new and larger facility. Their MMHS has served them well for over a decade, but they’re not taking it with them. In its place? An all-new CINCINNATI material handling system that fits perfectly in the new space.
If you need a laser cutting system built, there is simply no better team to talk to. Get in touch today to get started.