A digital future
With its slogan “Be the First!”, SafanDarley made the global introduction of its new H-iBrake press brake at the Blechexpo exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany, from 7-10 November 2023. The sheet-metal bending and shearing specialist also showcased other new innovations and in-house developed software advances on its stand. The inventor of the servo-electronic E-Brake bending system is now moving increasingly towards the digitally controlled factory with automated, modular and software solutions on display for the future production environment.
With two production plants in the Netherlands, a head office in Lochem and a branch in Eijsden, the company employs approximately 220 members of staff. It has placed a firm focus on software, automation and sustainability issues in its R&D/technology developments. 2023 is also a groundbreaking year for SafanDarley as it celebrates its 90th anniversary.
ISMR sat down with SafanDarley’s CEO, Gert Dekker, at Blechexpo/Schweisstec to hear about the company’s latest innovations and his views on global market movements.
ISMR: What is the focus of your stand at Blechexpo/Schweisstec this year?
GD: The highlight of our stand at Blechexpo/Schweisstec is the global launch of our new H-iBrake hydraulic press brake (the ‘i’ stands for ‘intelligent’). It offers higher speeds (87MHz motors), an energy regeneration system and the latest software functionality. The modular structure means that we can also reduce the price point i.e. more value for less money. It is the culmination of 1.5 years of development work with our subsidiary in Eijsden.
We have combined our 90 years of experience with the latest technologies to make these machines even more energy-efficient, modular and reliable. Key features include advanced drive technology and increased approach and pressing speeds. The press brake is available in several sizes: 170; 240; 320; 400 and 480 tonnes. Other options are possible since we are always open to meeting customer requirements with custom-made systems. The screen is also easier to use and simpler to handle. I am delighted to confirm that we have just sold the first H-iBrake at this show!
We are also highlighting our in-house developed software platform, ASC-Control, for all our automated solutions as well as EC3D functionality for direct import of 3D files and 3D programming at the press brake (Ultra and Premium models). ASC-Control means that our automated press brakes are more responsive and quicker; operators can also see machine updates on-screen such as tooling, status etc. Together with AutoPOL and RoboBend (offline software), ASC-Control enables us to offer a total package for all automated solutions. As a result, our customers are no longer dependent on third parties and have only one point of contact for the entire package.
There is a special software corner on our booth where we display software advances to visitors. Around 75-80% of our development projects are now software-related. You can also see our intelligent lights-out factory solution: E-Brake 35T Premium Mini Cell, with a 25kg Fanuc robot, working with Kumatech’s Pallet Jack (AGV) on our booth. The customised system is designed to be modular but all the elements are controlled by the same software.
Machines from our standard product range, such as H-Brake Hybrid 110T - 1600 Premium and the E-Brake 130T Ultra equipped with an intelligent bending aid (the I-Mate), are also showcased on our booth.
ISMR: How have you celebrated your 90th anniversary this year?
GD: We have been delighted to celebrate our 90th anniversary with our customers, partners and employees.
This May, we held a distributor meeting and party at our main office in Lochem and also partly in Eijsden. We invited 50 people from 45 countries, set up a big tent in Lochem and held a series of market discussions and presentations. We then hired 25 classic VW Cabriolets and took our guests on a tour of the local area. In the evening, we held our formal dinner and party in a castle. A week later, we held another party for our employees and partners.
ISMR: What are your views on the current global business climate for sheet metal professionals? What about the climate in 2024?
GD: Europe is struggling at the moment and Germany is in recession. Customers are waiting for investment decisions. In The Netherlands, many machine builders are having to reduce costs because numbers are going down. Obviously, economies are affected by waves. The markets recovered well after COVID downturns in 2021, then the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in 2022 and markets went down from May/June. They haven’t really recovered since then.
However, I see more optimism in the North American market (Mexico, Canada and USA). Investment, however, could be better. We demonstrated our robotic solutions at FABTECH in Chicago recently. I also see potential growth and opportunities in Poland, Italy and the United States, as well as some markets in Asia and the Middle East.
I think markets will stay at the same levelin 2024 so there may need to be an increased focus on cost cutting. Energy prices are going up again in Europe.
To read the rest of the article in the November 2023 issue of ISMR, see https://joom.ag/ztnd/p36