Doing the math at northeast laser

Doing the math at northeast laser

December 10, 2013 5:17:28 PM


After stating his goal of making Northeast Laser in Tallmadge, Ohio the best, highest-quality, most flexible, fairest-priced job shop in the region, owner and founder Andy Weinsheimer next turned to his calculator. He figured that in setting the bar so high for his business, he would have to do his homework and go by the numbers with capital investment. 


The business started in 2000 as a consummate job shop, with a single 4-foot by 8-foot, 4,000-watt Mitsubishi HD laser and a Mitsubishi press brake. The shop incrementally added machines over the years, including another 4-foot by 8-foot HD, and a 5-foot by 10-foot, 4,000-watt HD. 


“We are a local job shop; we run everything from single custom pieces or prototypes to thousands of pieces repetitively, covering the gamut between job shop and production facility,” Weinsheimer says. “We process items for everyone from machine shops to fabricators to OEMs, plus custom pieces, even artwork and creative pieces—we see it all. But our real forte is clean/nitrogen cutting stainless, aluminum and tool steels.”


Thanks to its equipment investments, Northeast Laser built a local reputation for being able to accurately deliver quality products while hitting narrow time windows. This included a lot of heavier materials and thicker alloys that other shops wouldn’t be able to cut. 


“We like to under-promise and over perform. There’s a cost associated with tearing down one job for a more urgent one, but most of the time, we’re able to reconfigure the staff and machine load to accommodate everyone,” Weinsheimer says. “There are a lot of balls in the air at any given time; it’s just a matter of keeping track of the ones closest to the ground.” 

NE_Laser

 

DOING THE MATH 

 


But as Northeast Laser’s reputation grew, so did its business. Weinsheimer recognized the need to simultaneously increase capacity and maintain competitive prices, a delicate tightrope to walk. This is where the calculator comes into play, and how he decided on a new Mitsubishi eX 4,500-watt laser with a 5-foot by 10-foot table, complete with pallet changers, plus a new Dener Diamond Elite press brake. 


“The original formula that brought us to the purchase of a new flying optic laser was all about cost compared to productivity. When I looked at the cost of hiring two to three more people, and compared it to the expense of a new laser that one person, maybe two people could run, it made a lot more sense to have that equipment payment, not to mention the new efficiencies on the new machine,” Weinsheimer says. “The jobs that used to take eight to 10 hours are now taking six hours. The efficiency of gas use, electric use, plus the reduced labor, it was a tremendous. I’d bet we cut our oxygen use by 30 percent. The gas changes are at 24 hours instead of 12, so we save a ton of money in laser mix, too.”


Weinsheimer had initially looked at an LV series laser, but came to the conclusion that the capabilities he wanted—namely higher pressure and a stronger, more powerful resonator—came standard on an eX.  


By the time he did the math to see how upgrading the LV to his specifications would work, it made more sense to upgrade to the eX. Because the eX completely replaced two of the older HD machines, Weinsheimer assumed he would have to either accept a trade-in offer for the HDs or do the legwork to sell them himself. But in working with MC Machinery, he was able to navigate a three-way deal that benefited all parties. 


“Mitsubishi orchestrated the whole thing, and turned it around very quickly. The floor wasn’t empty for more than a week,” Weinsheimer says.

NE_Laser2

 

SOMEONE TO LEAN ON 

 


As a shop that can run 24 hours per day, seven days per week, there were naturally wear-andtear problems that required Mitsubishi support.


“Mitsubishi has responded superbly well. We had a hard drive issue in the middle of the night, and I was able to get a tech on the phone at 1 a.m. He stayed on the phone until we exhausted every avenue. It’s impressive to get that kind of support. The press brake support has been tremendous as well, just being able to email back and forth with someone devoted to solving our problems. That’s hard to find, that level of dedication. When doing market research, Mitsubishi stood out over competitors in the simplicity and stability of the designs—they make it very simple for you to do the work if you choose to take on the challenges of machine repair, maintenance and tuning.”


The goal was to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and Weinsheimer felt that with an older press brake and three older lasers, they were a bit behind. Now that Northeast Laser made the investment, and it continues to improve, expand, and broaden its market, the next step is to purchase another eX machine and accelerate the growth of its fabrication and vending markets. Weinsheimer is targeting many of the items that had been secondary to the company’s core offerings, aiming to convert these into primary offerings.


One path to this growth may involve 3-D cutting machines and five-axis machining, which fascinate Weinsheimer. He sheepishly admits to having purchased his initial HD laser machine back in 2000 without ever having used a laser in the past, a decision he questions in retrospect. But the results don’t lie; he’s clearly a quick study on new technology. 


“Our goal is to be the best, highest quality, fairest-priced shop in the area. It is achievable—in fact we’re on the brink of doing it now,” Weinshemer says. “I had a company that just buried me recently because they went to every shop nearby, and hadn’t gotten the parts cut correctly—we were able to do it for them. They exhausted everyone that I knew about. We owe it to our combination of equipment and experience.”

 

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