Ask Paul B. Zimmerman, Inc.’s co-owner Mark Zimmerman why he wanted a Mazak FabriGear 150 to make cattle control fencing and he’ll simply answer “To remain competitive, you’ve got to automate.”
Mark traveled to Japan, across Europe and North America to evaluate the 3D laser offerings of the major players in the market, before choosing the Mazak FabriGear 150. “I went with the FabriGear because of its reputation for dependability and its flexibility to handle larger pieces, which are key issues for us,” he continued, “One day we might be running fence posts in the morning and switch over to bodybuilding equipment on the second shift. We’re averaging 18-20 hours per day on the FabriGear.”
Although their FabriGear 150 was originally purchased to streamline their barn equipment manufacturing division located in Lititz, PA, Zimmerman was very realistic about the investment they made. With five business partners who also happen to be brothers, Zimmerman admitted to being a bit nervous, but confident in his decision to purchase the FabriGear 150. “I knew we couldn’t justify the expense of the FabriGear 150 with just our barn equipment, so the plan was to take on job shop work.” Little did he know, the job shop potential was so great in the Northeast, that he would be buying a second 3D laser, this time the larger FabriGear 300, in a few short years. “We’ve got the area ready for the installation and a customer waiting for the first part run on the new 300!” exclaimed Zimmerman.
One of the first outside projects Zimmerman landed was for a manufacturer of weight training equipment, who has grown to become a major customer, utilizing services from several Paul B. Zimmerman, Inc. divisions. “They were having trouble getting the geometry they wanted cut from a square tube, they sent us a sample and the rest is history. Now we’re cutting all their tube, fabricating and welding the fitness equipment, warehousing components, custom powder coating and delivering the knocked down units for final assembly at their client’s facilities,” said Zimmerman. Essential to the success has been the Zimmerman’s ability to eliminate production steps, reduce labor and improve accuracy with the FabriGear 150. “We’ve minimized the handling and cut labor costs by as much as 50% on some of the parts, but more importantly, we’ve improved accuracy so when the parts go to the robotic welder we’re getting better welds faster.”
Zimmerman points to the FabriGear’s ability to directly import solid modeled part files with the Mazak FG-CAD/CAM software package and cut them without error as an exciting feature that gives him an edge over the competition. “We’re working on a project with a large number of tube components for a video screen tower and frame for a major rock band’s world tour staging. We’re cutting 2″ and 3″ OD round chrome-molly tubing with compound angles exactly to the design; it’s a very expensive material, so you can’t afford a single mistake. We took the work away from a job shop that had a competitive brand of tube laser, but couldn’t import the files.” From the exotic to the mundane, Zimmerman has seen the FabriGear 150 impact his business “Little things like being able to put a slot in a tube where we used to drill a hole. It makes the end product’s assembly easier while eliminating the set-up time on the drill press. It all adds up to greater profits.”
New projects for Paul B. Zimmerman, Inc. include stainless steel hand railings for luxury yachts and New York City’s Mass Transit system. “We’ve gone from barnyards to weight rooms to rock concerts to the subway and now out to sea on luxury yachts with our FabriGear 150. I’m happy to have the ability to be diversified!” With sustained growth capable of justifying a second, larger FabriGear, Zimmerman has clearly hit one over the fence!