Best Bars has introduced a series of upgrades at its high-tech factory in New Zealand which have resulted in improved efficiencies and better quality towbars being produced.
Best Bars only moved into its state-of-the-art facility at Wiri in South Auckland three years ago, but has already implemented changes that are designed to maintain its position as a world-class manufacturer.
The latest include improvements to the welding process, new plasma steel cutting equipment and a more comprehensive powder coating system.
These investments follow on from the installation of a brand new paint shop at the Best Bars site in 2014 costing $750,000.
Stephen de Kriek, CEO of Best Bars, says the object of the newest changes is to further raise the quality and consistency of the towbars it produces.
The welding process has come in for the greatest attention at the Best Bars factory. The company now has six robotic welders and a seventh is soon to be added to the production line to automate the most repetitious tasks, thereby ensuring product consistency and freeing welding staff for more specialised roles.
Investment has also been made in a series of new manual welding machines for jobs that cannot be easily automated.
This move, together with other changes in this area, has contributed to improving the working conditions for manual welders, according to Stephen.
That’s especially important, since the company has now introduced five night shifts per week for its welding team in order to keep up with customer demand for towbar products.
Other investments include the installation of an automated nesting system for profile cutting, which used to be a five-step manual job. The new nesting system is not only more productive from a time-saving point of view, it can also make more products from a sheet of steel, which reduces wastage.
Three new, highly efficient plasma cutting machines have been installed, too. These are faster, more accurate and more efficient in cutting steel plate.
In the paint shop, the powder coating process has been upgraded to include a three-step pre-treatment before the under-coat and then the final coat, which is baked at 240 deg C. The upgraded paint process delivers a superior finish that complements modern vehicle design and will look good for years to come.
Staff leadership courses have also been introduced across each department, consisting of a 10-month business management study programme accredited to NZQA level 3.