For FE+, a Laborex Group company, LVD’s after-sales support was the decisive factor in its purchase of a laser cutting machine with warehouse automation. “After all, what good is a machine that stands still, or whose maintenance costs a lot of money?”, says Wim Kuysters, managing director of Laborex.

Parts cleaning machines 

Since 1960, the Belgian Laborex Group has been designing and manufacturing machines to clean industrial parts and protect them against corrosion. It involves both customised and standard systems for treating parts ranging in size from a few grams to several tons.

To build those systems, the company initially purchased a wide variety of sheet metal from suppliers. Until it decided to invest in its own press brake, punching and shearing machinery to increase flexibility. “Besides the production for ourselves, over time we increasingly supplied other companies. In 2003, this led to the establishment of a separate private limited company – FE+ – which, after purchasing more machine tools, has grown into a full-fledged sheet metal working company,” says Kuysters.

One point of contact 

That growth forced the company a few years ago to look for a fast and energy-efficient fiber laser cutting machine to replace its CO2 laser. It also needed an automated warehouse to cut manual labour costs. “We preferred the cutting machine and warehouse to be from the same manufacturer for a single point of contact in case of problems. The coupling between these, especially with the press brake as the next production step, was crucial. The limited space in the production hall was another important consideration.

“LVD was a trusted partner for us, particularly because of their strong aftersales support, which had made a difference before. 


With their Phoenix FL-3015 laser cutting machine, linked to a five-tower automation warehouse system (WAS), they came up with a compact solution with a good workflow. And this while the technical specifications were comparable to those of other players,” FE+ plant manager Penny Tsikli explains.

LVD Phoenix FL-3015 with WAS automation

LVD Phoenix FL-3015 with WAS automation

LVD Phoenix FL-3015 with WAS automation

LVD Phoenix FL-3015 with WAS automation

Sophisticated workflow

Compared to CO2 technology, the fiber laser cutting machine cuts the same parts in a third of the time. FE+ deploys the new machine for processing stainless steel, aluminium, steel and copper. The cutting area is 1.5 by 3 m and depending on the material type, sheet thicknesses vary from 0.2 to 30 mm. “On the right side, raw sheets are loaded into the warehouse. From the second tower, the material is presented to the integrated load/unload to supply the laser cutting machine. After processing, the cut parts go back into the warehouse. The pallets of parts can then be retrieved from the leftmost tower on an unloading table, where the operator can remove them from the sheet. During sorting, the operator validates the parts and reports them back to the software to make them available for the next operation. Finally, the skeleton is removed, or the residual sheet is pushed back into the warehouse along the left side,” Kuysters demonstrated the setup’s workflow.

“This system provides us with a space saving of 80% compared to before. Thanks to the large, orderly storage, we can also deliver to our customers faster and are less subject to material price fluctuations. In addition, it has significantly improved safety, as we’ve reduced the use of forklifts.”

“LVD's CADMAN® software is linkedto our ERP package, so we now have visibility of stock at all times and can optimise our stock management. CADMAN also creates production programs and enables precise preand post-calculation. As a result, we realise major time savings in engineering, production as well as administration,” Tsikli adds.

LVD Phoenix FL-3015 with WAS automation
LVD Phoenix FL-3015 with WAS automation

Further growth

FE+ invested in the laser cutting machine and warehouse with the ultimate goal of delivering higher volumes of high-quality parts, reliably and at competitive prices. This combination should therefore support the company’s further growth. “Currently, work for external parties represents 90% of our turnover, but we want to increase this share further. Specifically, we want to see our annual turnover increase from 2.2 to 3 million euros next year. This purchase should make this possible,” the company managers add.

ing. Wouter Verheecke, Metallerie

Laborex is a machine builder. We make specific machines for the automotive and general industry, equipment to clean and purify components. Long ago we outsourced our sheet metal work until at some point we decided to do it ourselves. Due to problems with suppliers and flexibility, we created the subsidiary FE+, which continued to grow and became a separate company in 2005-2006. That is when the decision was made to take on external customers because we had to invest in new and more expensive machinery. Today, 10% of its work is for Laborex, 90% is for external customers.

We work with steel, stainless steel 304 and 316, as well as copper sheets in small, medium and large formats. We cut sheets of up to 3 by 1.5 metres. The thicknesses range from 0.4 to 30 mm.

Why did we choose LVD? 

We had a very good after sales experience with the press brakes that we’ve been working with for years, and we particularly like the quick response time. Secondly, the new warehouse automation system linked to the laser, which is a very significant investment for us, is built, delivered, installed and started up by a single manufacturer. We opted for a Belgian company, a little bit of chauvinism seemed appropriate.

We’ve been using nothing but the CADMAN software package for several years now: the SDI, CADMAN-B, CADMAN-JOB, CADMAN-P and CADMAN-L . All machines and software are connected. Our production now starts from a 3D model, which is unfolded in CADMAN-B  and nested in CADMAN-L . The cutting and bending programs are sent directly to our laser cutting machine and press brake. Compared to the past, when the press brake and laser weren’t linked, we now save a lot of time and are able to work more accurately.

The advantage of the automated warehouse, given our limited space, is that we now require 80% less surface area. Worksheets are no longer handled manually, it’s all done automatically. Transport to and from the warehouse used to be handled with forklifts. Now the risks and dangers are reduced to zero, the work is faster and there are fewer costs and working hours.