When Adelaide-based Secure Gates automated the cutting of square tube and plate steel with the installation of an HD plasma machine, the result was increased productivity, production times halved, and much shorter lead times in prototyping and fabricating.

Owned and operated by Simon Neil, Secure Gates works in the area of large, specialised industrial and high-security gates – including gates used in prisons. It’s a niche business with a repeat client list and new clients attracted by word of mouth. Neil currently employs one staff member. Or two, if you count, as Simon does, the Advanced Robotic Technology (ART) plasma cutter he installed in 2013, and which he sees as absolutely pivotal to the success of his business.

“The business hasn’t looked back since I installed the machine,” he says. “It’s absolutely pivotal to the business.”

Neil had been looking for some time to install a cutting machine to help with the workload. When he contacted ART, they were quick to analyse the needs of the business and suggest solutions that would work best for him. Neil says he was very impressed with the team at ART and consultation was soon followed by installation at Secure Gates of an ART HPR130XD plasma machine with a drill/tap head.

The machine was customised for Neil’s need for a large working area – in his case a working area of 14.5m x 2.5m – and the ability for cutting long length of square tube – up to 12.5m in length – as well as steel plate. The result for Secure Gates has been an increase in speed and accuracy, greatly lowered lead times and reduced production costs. With the ART plasma cutter, productivity has increased by 50%, and the product is of higher quality.

In particular, Neil likes the fact his machine is a high-quality Australian product and that support comes from people on the ground in Australia familiar with the Australian business environment. This has huge benefits, Neil says: “After-sales support has been very good. ART is able to deal with most problems by logging on remotely and getting me back on track quickly.”

The plasma cutter has made a considerable impact on output. In the past, having to have material cut offsite caused problems with lead times but now Neil is able to prototype quickly, and achieves faster fabrication of orders. Productivity has increased by 50%, and the product is of higher quality.

Moreover, the increased productivity has freed up time for Neil to plan for his company’s growth, which has already paid off. The ability to tap into other markets, combined with the machine’s efficiency, saw Secure Gates grow by 70% over the last three years.