Great expectations

Generations of trust for two companies leads to cutting and bending success

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While the interior framework of any structure is clearly critical, it’s often the façade that sets one building apart from the others. As a result, architects, designers and builders place a premium on aesthetics and on the suppliers that can support innovative trends and meet rising expectations.

“If an architect can draw it, we can make it,” explained John Gilmour, chairman of George Gilmours.

Backed by decades of experience, it’s this confidence and agility that has helped Gilmours enter new markets and solidify its growing reputation throughout the industry. Located in Glasgow, Scotland, Gilmours is a family-owned manufacturer entering its fifth generation. Tracing its roots back to 1895, the company served the shipbuilding industry for decades. In the 1950s, under the direction of John’s father, George Gilmour, the company shifted its focus to support the growing construction industry with finished metal products.

The Glasgow Science Center was refurbished with 0.7-mm stainless steel shingles, which were laser profiled and then formed by Gilmours on its Cincinnati machinery.

Since that time, Gilmours has grown to more than 60 employees and multiple shops. As a full-service manufacturer, the company serves the industry with an arsenal of fabrication equipment and services: metal cutting, punching, bending and shearing capabilities along with welding, powder coating, finishing, assembly and other secondary operations. With more than 50 years of experience in the metal industry, the company is known for its quality and responsiveness in supplying its bespoke metal products.

New opportunities

During the 1970s, Gilmours made its mark as a global exporter of finished metal goods. Challenged by rising tension and an increasingly unstable political climate, the 1980s became a decade of change for many companies doing business in middle eastern markets. At this same time – fueled by innovations such as rainscreen cladding along with widespread requirements for aluminum, stainless steel and other exotic metals – the building industry was gaining momentum. This presented new opportunities for manufacturers that were responsive and prepared to support this fast-growing industry.

To produce the façade for the Glasgow Science Center, 17,000 different components were scanned, 3-D modeled, flat patterned, laser cut and then formed.

Graham Gilmour, managing director, explained that as the company’s products and capabilities have evolved, things have become more advanced in terms of how jobs are approached.

“We began looking at the 3-D modeling and design work side that was needed,” he said. “Fabrication skill sets were changing and there were fewer sheet metal workers available. This was a necessary evolution, and we knew that we had to move away from programming parts at the machine level. We had to create a digital environment to model parts on the computer that we could then transition into the machinery. If we were going to continue to grow, modernization in terms of automation and machinery would be key.”

Evolving with laser

Like most successful manufacturers, Gilmours knew that embracing new methods and technology would be essential to maintain and grow its market share. Although it successfully relied on CNC punching to this point, the company recognized that laser cutting was the better option for many applications.

John Gilmour explained that the move to laser cutting technology was driven by meeting the rising expectations of current and future customers.

“It all comes down to what the machine can do most effectively,” John Gilmour said. “Our motivation to move to a laser was orientated around achieving the cut shapes and quality needed to support the designs of our customers. There is very little cost benefit in our operation between a laser and punch press. But it has everything to do with how we’re able to work with our customers and provide exactly what they want and the quality they’ve come to expect.”

The fleet of Cincinnati press brakes at Gilmours plays a large role in helping the company support the growing construction industry with finished metal products.

While Gilmours recognized the advantages of laser technology, it wanted to be sure that the process and machine would allow the company to remain responsive to the specific and unique requirements of each job. So, it turned to Cincinnati Inc., the partner Gilmours had come to rely on over the years for much of the equipment on its shop floor.

A Cincinnati 707 laser was brought in and put to work for the refurbishment of the Glasgow Science Center. Gilmours cut 0.7-mm stainless steel shingles, which were then formed on Cincinnati press brakes. In this project, approximately 17,000 individual components were scanned, 3-D modeled, flat patterned, laser cut and formed.

Graham Gilmour noted measurable improvements in terms of the speed in which drawings were imported along with the quality of the cut.

The Hexagon Tower in Manchester, England, features post-anodized, 3-mm aluminum that Gilmours formed in its Cincinnati press brakes.

“A laser produces clean cuts without the nibbling marks that are common with a punch,” he said. “This saves cleanup time and costs. Also, with CNC punching you have to tool everything up and follow the lines to punch out. The beauty of running the shingle job on the laser was that it follows the line. This was fantastic because there were so many different shapes of shingles. Programming this job on a punch would have been a minefield.”

Then and now

Beginning decades earlier with a Cincinnati guillotine and press brakes, Gilmours has had a long and successful history with the manufacturer. Cincinnati is represented locally by Cinmech Services. With a service center in Scotland, the company has been serving Gilmours for nearly 50 years.

“We know the quality that Cincinnati produces, and we could not be more pleased with the service of our local representative,” Graham Gilmour said. “I’ve been to the company’s U.S. headquarters; I’ve met the people and I know the quality of the makeup of Cincinnati machines. We knew what we wanted and didn’t even consider another manufacturer.”

Company leadership at Gilmours consider the façade of the Hexagon Tower as a great example of design complexity and manufacturing sophistication coming together.

Manufacturers like Gilmours understand that technology and automation are strategic to rebranding the industry, closing the skills gap and catching the attention of tech-savvy workers. And, maintaining a leadership position requires a willingness to continually invest in opportunities to advance the company. John Gilmour is confident that as he turns the reins over to his son, the company will find ways to leverage technology and its skilled workforce even further.

“Increasingly, manufacturing is becoming computer-driven, and we’re incorporating new tools and processes to streamline processes, maximize resources and attract workers,” John Gilmour said. “Under Graham’s leadership, we will continue to move the company forward and identify opportunities to incorporate technology even more widely.”

Today, Gilmours is doing just this by taking steps to modernize its bending operations. And naturally, Cincinnati is there to help.

“Our plan is to upgrade our Cincinnati Autoform equipment with new Gen 6 PC controls,” Graham Gilmour concluded. “This will complement our current offline programming capabilities and further demonstrate our commitment to an automated shop floor environment.”

Cincinnati Inc.

Gilmours

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