It may be one of Derby’s oldest companies, but Eggleston Steel is still at the cutting edge of industry having just invested in the most advanced laser profiling machine in the country.
Steel stockholder Eggleston Steel, which can trace its history back to an ironmongery in 1809, has taken stock of the new machine which, it hopes, will give it a shiny future.
The cost of the machine – built by German firm Trumpf in Switzerland – and new saws is £850,000, which is the largest-ever single investment by the company in machinery.
It was bought with a grant of £120,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, with a loan from Lloyds Asset Finance making up the remainder.
It took two weeks to install the new equipment, with the company taking on an extra six employees – three at its depot in Parcel Terrace, where the new machine is – and three at the company headquarters in Alfreton Road, taking the total to 46.
The company is hoping that the investment will pay dividends by increasing the firm’s annual sales for this section of the business from £1.6m to £2.6m in coming years.
Eggleston provides steel for customers working on a DIY project to lorries full for national companies working in the engineering, fabrication and construction sectors.
Its products are used in a wide range – from fire escapes to ducting for power stations and structural steel for buildings
Two-thirds of the steel sold is processed in bespoke fashion some way for customers – sawn, guillotined, folded or profiled into specific shapes, anything from a weather vane fascia to giant sculptures weighing tonnes.
In addition to existing customers, the company hopes that the new machine will lead to new markets across the rail, automotive, aerospace industries and agriculture.
The new machine can cut fine detail into steel quickly with minimal effort. Eggleston opted for the most technologically-advanced version with a camera to monitor the cutting head. This means it can replace its nozzles before wear and tear impacts on the quality of finished parts.
Eggleston managing director Richard Hewitt said: “We are delighted at being the first in the country to have this particular machine. It’s a giant leap forward for the company.
He said that the role of the stockholder – which used to deal in stock units – has changed in recent years.
“We are now a service centre operating a variety of customised cutting solutions to meet our customers’ requirements,” he said. “This is all about added value.”
The new machine can cut from 1mm to 25mm thick, cutting more intricately and accurately than before. “This means less waste and ultimately saving money for us and the end customer. The laser compliments the existing profiling machine which cuts up to 250mm.
“The new machine will cut any shape but it does it quicker, more efficiently, more accurately and has a far superior edge cut.”
Eggleston has been asked if it will showcase the machinery to other firms.