Catching up from behind and blowing ahead of the competition

In the years since the Brescia family opened United Mechanical & Metal Fabricators, Inc. (UMEC) in 1982 as a food equipment manufacturer, the San Francisco Bay Area business has developed into a full-blown, sheet metal fabrication and machine shop. Due to customer growth, the business gradually built an $8 million backlog in its pipeline, according to Matthew Bishop, UMEC’s chief operating officer.

“We needed to be able to provide our customers with quality service and on-time deliveries,” Bishop says. “The demand from our largest customers was so great that it put us in a position where we needed to take action immediately to increase capacity.”

UMEC recently expanded its footprint with an 18,000-square-foot fabrication shop in Union City, Calif., adding a cutting facility in addition to the shop’s 35,000-square-foot headquarters in Hayward, Calif. UMEC would go on to install a 3015 eX-F Zoom 60 and a 4020 RX-F Zoom 60 into its new facility. The Mitsubishi lasers offer improved cutting abilities, increased capacities, reduced piercing times, and the ability to move through materials at greater speeds.

Faster piercing times, plus additional advances that come standard on Mitsubishi’s eX and RX lines, helped UMEC dramatically increase its cutting capacity—from about 200 inches per minute up to 1,900 inches per minute for thin materials. The machines also give the business the ability to cut up to 1-inch steel.

“When we searched the market, the Mitsubishi lasers were the best option for UMEC,” Bishop says. “For a small metal fabrication job shop, the increased capacity significantly changes the dynamics of how quickly we can get caught up when behind.”

The shop also upgraded its nesting software to schedule smarter, minimize the need to change material, and provide an accurate material count, making ordering raw materials easier.

The shop, which specializes in standard stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and aircraft-quality alloys, is equipped to develop solutions for a variety of industries. Cutting six times faster than before primed UMEC to further diversify its fabrication capabilities. In addition to current work in the transportation, semiconductor, solar, and industrial automation industries, UMEC is starting to cross into the aerospace, defense, and medical device fields. UMEC recently passed the ISO 9001 audit and is in the process of becoming ISO 13485-certified for medical devices next year.

MC Machinery provided critical guidance to keep UMEC on track—from advice about which lasers to purchase, to training and monitoring the shop’s laser settings via a Remote 360 software—to ensure the business continues to accomplish smooth cuts with the right parameters.

“Whatever needs to be done, MC Machinery gets it taken care of,” Bishop says. “They bend over backward as a partner to make sure we get everything operating properly and that it has as little impact on production as possible.”

In the event of an issue, Bishop adds, MC Machinery helps to resolve it as quickly as possible.