Based in Magheracloone, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland, and a family run business, MACFAB is a global manufacturer and supplier of two product lines. The first is a range of innovative moulds for the pre-cast/prestressed concrete industry which are used to produce pre-stressed building elements, particularly for the housing market. 

The second product division produces a range of vertical balers and compactors for the recycling industry. Dane McMahon says: “Our range of balers are resold/rebranded by 50 appointed distributors in more than 30 countries worldwide. Our products can be found in all business sectors and business sizes from recognized multinational brands to small local businesses. Our goal is to help businesses better manage their waste and recycling processes.”

Production is more or less all inhouse, from raw material to cut, formed, welded, and painted fabrications, as well as electrical panels. There is also a CNC machining section for hydraulic cylinders. Dane says: “It is a competitive market, so we need to keep our costs down. Automated production processes and lean manufacturing are all part of being competitive. We have two welding robots at the moment and are looking to add more. “If a man is doing the welding, then, if a part needs to be held or flexed or tacked, he can do that. A robot has only one way of doing something, so we needed to standardise the way we pressed parts to improve the accuracy and accommodate more automation.

“The main reason for purchasing an LVD press brake was down to the quality of the finished folds. It gives us the dimensional and angular accuracy we need for our robotic welding fixtures.”

The machine was specifi ed with hydraulic clamping, sheet followers to support the part during bending, and an extended open height. The package was completed with LVD CADMAN-B offl ine programming software and CADMAN-SDI smart drawing importer. Dane says that being able to tailor the machine to suit MACFAB’s needs was a great advantage.

As well as the physical aspects of the machine, the software plays a key role. CADMAN-B software allows the seamless production of offl ine programs which can be transferred directly to the machine. The SDI smart drawing importer can take a 3D design fi le, unfold it to get a fl at blank and analyse whether there would be any problems in bending it.

“With the LVD software there are no issues of whether or not it will work. So that has helped them immensely. The design process is a lot quicker, and the trialling of parts is quicker, but also their skill has improved because they understand fabrication.”

MACFAB is from Magheracloone, Carrickmacross, in the Irish county of Monaghan, where my father started the business in 1979. The business is now a family business, there are four of us from the family here. We started off as a precast, prestressed business. We make moulds for the construction industry. From then on, through the eighties, we started to notice we could add another product.

This is within the recycling industry. We started developing and researching vertical baling presses for either compressing cardboard or plastic or general waste. So we developed that product and now it’s eighty percent of the business and has grown ever since. Looking at the business today, we've grown, we've doubled the size of the factory because of the recycling industry.

And we still manufacture prestressed and precast business, and that has grown as well. We don’t just have distributors in the UK, we have fifty distributors across the world now. The first LVD machine would have been here twenty-plus years ago. That was a brake press, we only had brake presses from LVD. We would have had a 6-metre brake press in the eighties and then a 4-metre brake press. And then we changed suppliers and now we're back to LVD. We've got an Easy-Form 4-metre machine. We came back to LVD because now we have service engineers here in Ireland and also there were one or two specific things that LVD could offer that other distributors or other competitors couldn't and the Easy-Form was a big plus for MACFAB. We have automation, we've got robots that weld and everything that comes off the LVD needs to be exactly right for those robots. With the Easy-Form, everything that comes off the LVD that needs to be ninety degrees is effectively ninety degrees, across the full length of the product.

And so then we go into the robotic welding and the robot welds it successfully. Another thing unique to the brake press is that we ordered two screens to help with our process. On the bottom screen you'll see CADMAN-B being used and then the top screen is actually our drawings from our design office so that when the operator pulls up a drawing, he can see both the drawing and the CADMAN-B part just to verify that he's pressing the right part. It's called Easy-Form and it actually is very easy to use, the operators naturally just started using it. So now we do all our press work with the Easy-Form. When a new piece of equipment or automated equipment comes in, a lot of operators might not use it because it's slower but that's not the case with Easy-Form. It's seamless, it works straight away and you don't even know it's working in the background. The machine has been very successful for us.

I can see us getting another brake press from LVD. The one we have has been working so well and it has added great value to the process. So yeah, I can see LVD and MACFAB working together for a good long time.