Burgess Furniture operates at the premium end of the contract furniture market, supplying some of the world's leading hotel brands. With quality a priority, it keeps most of the manufacture in house from tube bending and robot welding to powder coating and upholstery. Recently the company has made investments that will help it maintain the superior aesthetics that justify its premium prices and improved its productivity.
In the case of the extruded aluminium chair frames this has led to the acquisition of a Timesavers graining/surfacing finishing machine from Ellesco and a Durr Ecoclean multi-tank aqueous washing and degreasing system.
Image: The Durr Ecoclean multi-tank aqueous washing and degreasing system
Burgess Furniture makes some 2,000 chairs a week and the frames are the highest volume components manufactured. While a plain extrusion would be cheaper and easier to manufacture, the appearance of the Burgess frames is enhanced with fluting. Frames are finished in a clear or tinted lacquer, which means the surface of the aluminium has to be extremely well prepared. The extrusion is bent to shape and welded before a final hand polishing of the joints.
The company's new Timesavers Series 42-WBB offers a number of advantages over its predecessor, also a Timesavers machine that featured a belt and brush combination for finishing the extrusion. The Series 42-WBB adds an additional brushing element to enhance the graining on the extrusion, which in turn assists with adhesion of the lacquer/paint. Additionally, its working width (900 mm) is 50% greater, so more material can be fed. When this is combined with the greater speed, the machine easily copes with the 9,000 m of aluminium extrusion that Burgess Furniture processes each week.
Engineering manager Craig Kent comments: "Without the Timesavers Series 42-WBB machine the amount of hand polishing to get the finish standards that we demand would add significantly to the finished cost of the chair. The fact that it grains and polishes all the fine detail on our extrusions is a major benefit."
But before chair components are welded, they need to be thoroughly washed and thoroughly dried. The Durr Ecoclean multi-tank aqueous washing and degreasing system selected was supplied by Geo Kingsbury. Cleaning cycles with the Durr Mega 95W are now 50% faster than with the equipment it replaces and at 18 litres per cycle it consumes 50% less water. It has also significantly reduced manual handling of baskets of chair components.
Mr Kent says: "Our old washing system was capable of handling only four baskets per hour, whereas the new Durr machine processes six per hour and is able to handle seven, if required."
Formerly the operator physically moved baskets of aluminium extrusions between the washing/spray rinsing stage and the drying stage. Now, after one of three trolleys loaded with a basket of chair components is coupled mechanically and electrically to the end of the input conveyor of the Durr Mega 95W machine, the washing and drying cycle is completed automatically at the push of a button.
The cycle comprises immersion of the basket in a wash tank in which cold water (18ºC) is vigorously agitated by jets to increase the cleaning action, followed by transport to a rinse tank and on to a gas dryer. The latter is more efficient than a conventional electric dryer at encouraging water to evaporate, bearing in mind that much of it is within hollow extrusions.
Mr Kent comments: "We chose Durr Ecoclean due to the quality of build and engineering content, as well as the manufacturer's willingness to accommodate our requirement for a gas powered dryer. The manufacturer also took the trouble to demonstrate our parts being washed in a Mega 95W in its Filderstadt factory in Germany.
"We have also been impressed at the service provided by Geo Kingsbury, which installed the machine in one piece into a very tight space. It was virtually plug-and-play after the power was switched on and it has performed very well ever since."
First published online