Based in New South Wales, Sheet Metal Solutions recently completed the installation of a TRUMPF TruLaser 5040 Fibre (L76) laser supplied by Headland Machinery. Luke Williams, Head Programmer at Sheet Metal Solutions, shared his thoughts on the new machine and on the outlook for Australian manufacturing.

AMT: Tell us a little bit about Sheet Metal Solutions (SMS) and what you do.

Luke Williams: We provide sheet metal cutting and bending services to a wide variety of businesses and within various industries. We service agriculture, engineering, construction, mining, architectural, transport and trucking

SMS has been in business since 2007. We received our first TRUMPF laser in January 2010, which is when I joined. I’ve been working with lasers and programming ever since. While originally I was thrown in the deep end at the time, I do love working with the laser technology. Over the past ten years I’ve received extensive software training on-the-job and acquired the skills to run the machines for the greatest productivity. I also schedule the work for the bending machines and help run the entire factory’s production.

AMT: How has the company evolved over the years?

LW: Over the past 10 years SMS has grown organically. We do try and control the growth so that we can adequately service our customers. In terms of advertising for the work, we have a client list and advertise on our website and leverage existing relationships. Our main clientele is in New South Wales, although some of our customers have branches interstate.

AMT: What industries do you specialise in or focus on?

LW: Within the agricultural industry we provide components and accessories for specialised machines and attachments, Within construction, we help companies with scaffolding products – although this work is seasonal and currently down, when work does come in, the volume is high with tight deadlines. Within transport and the truck companies, we do all the parts that go onto trucks, brackets, curtain runners, and so on. In mining, we provide all the sheet metal work around mining vehicles, conveyors systems, ventilation systems; this industry has slowed down a fair bit, although in 2019 it made up a large volume of our workload.

We’d like to service the defence (combat vehicles and submarines) and medical industries (medical Equipment) in the future. There seems to be a lot of work currently in those industries and would be something we can service well.

AMT: What do you see as the keys to your success?

LW: Success for us is based around new technology, communication and providing superior products. Investing and keeping up with new technology is key, otherwise you get left behind. And communication, we keep in close contact with our customers to ensure they are happy. We also provide a great product. It’s presented nicely, it’s accurate and has met within their required lead times. Lead times are critical in this industry and we can provide fast turnaround, especially within our laser cutting and bending divisions.

AMT: Tell us about your recent purchase of the TRUMPF TruLaser 5040 Fibre (L76)?

LW: We purchased the TRUMPF fibre laser to keep up with our workload. We were constantly doing overtime and we needed to increase our capacity. We also wanted to cut thicker aluminium and a variety of different materials. This machine gave us that capacity and capability. It also meant we could cut much faster.

AMT: So why did you opt for TRUMPF technology?

LW: We didn’t look at many other brands to be honest. We know TRUMPF and we’re used to it. We also know the Headland service team is there and they know what they are doing – they are quick to respond and very knowledgeable. So it was easy for us to choose TRUMPF.

AMT: What are your thoughts on the manufacturing industry in Australia?

LW: Business sentiment is good at the moment; we are busy and seeing a lot of manufacturing previously outsourced overseas coming back to our shores due to the current pandemic. Let’s hope it comes back in full swing after the coronavirus has passed. I hope the current trend of on-shoring continues, with more and more manufacturing coming back to Australia. I also think it’s essential for Australian manufacturers to keep up with technology to ensure we can manufacture efficiently and competitively.