Proactive Entrepreneurship

A successful subcontractor in the Netherlands modernizes with the latest fab equipment

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Breman Machinery likes to make challenging finished products, including critical steel components that weigh a lot and are huge in size, with meticulous accuracy. This Dutch subcontractor is known for its proactive approach, and its newly established Breman Bending is taking it to yet another level.

Breman Machinery operates in many industries, such as offshore, oil and gas, luxury yacht building, defense and medical. The company’s facility is situated on the Black Water River, a direct and easy way to transport heavy constructions over the water and to their final destinations.

For anyone that gets a tour of the Breman Machinery operations, CEO Henk Breman will take them through the immense production halls and the company’s wide range of products: enormous pile driver parts, emergency bridges to repair riverbank connections throughout Europe, rudder systems for extra-large sailing yachts and systems used to lift ships out of the water. Still more products include frames for MRI scanners and drying machines to dry out the grass for racing camels in Saudi Arabia. 

With a wealth of experience, knowledge and craftsmanship, Breman Machinery tackles a variety of assignments. “We prefer to make non-standard products that challenge us,” Breman says. “Our market is focused on one-off products with limited tolerances and often made from difficult materials that require a high level of craftsmanship.”

The ToolCell from LVD is an automatic tool changing press brake that minimizes tool changeover time and increases throughput.

The Breman Machinery turnover is solid, including in the energy transition. As just one example, the company recently delivered a 1,500-ton structure for offshore wind energy. “The energy transition is quite significant for our company,” Breman says. “It gives rise to a new industry, which is a very welcome development.”

Breaking into new industries has always been a goal at Breman Machinery. The CEO’s remarks show that his company has been envisioning opportunities for many generations.

New factory

It comes as no surprise to hear that high-quality tools are needed to create the type of product Breman Machinery deals with. The company, therefore, has a range of processing machinery and departments for welding, assembly and conservation.

Recently, the major production methods of rolling, bending and laser cutting were moved to a separate facility, called Breman Bending, specifically built for this purpose, but still part of the larger Breman organization. Here, Breman’s son Niek is given the opportunity to develop his talents and gain experience with the responsibilities that come with entrepreneurship.

Henk and Niek Breman are on a mission to realize the potential of their machines and their overall operation and recognize that digitization plays a major role in this process.

“So, make it a good one” is the simple message he received from his father.

The objective at the new factory was to install existing machines to advance logistics. But, the heavy LVD machines (three machines, two press brakes and one shearing machine) at the back of the production hall for mid-sized machine processing were already quite old. Eventually, it was decided to fully modernize the sheet metal operations and install new machines at the new factory.

This led to a 1,600- and an 800-ton PPEB-H press brake and a 3,000-ton press brake thoroughly retrofitted by LVD to step into the digital future. A ToolCell completes the press brake department.

The factory also houses a 10-kW Taurus laser cutting machine with an 18-m cutting table and tower automation system (TAS) for the efficient storage of 6-m-by-2-m sheets. Both of these systems were highlighted in previous articles in Shop Floor Lasers.

Heavy-duty apps

According to an article in the July 2023 issue, LVD’s Taurus XXL offering for heavy-duty applications features ultra-high-power fiber lasers combined with large-format cutting tables. Stefan Colle, laser product sales manager at LVD North America, described as the XXL line as having “tremendous flexibility and essentially no length or thickness limitations.”

Breman Machinery has a long reputation for making challenging finished products with meticulous accuracy.

While there are several standard models to choose from – the 10-m Taurus 8, 14-m Taurus 12, 18-m Taurus 16, 22-m Taurus 20 and 26-m Taurus 24 – the Taurus XXL machines are modular, meaning the tables can range in size from about 30 ft. to about 140 ft. in length. To accommodate customers’ custom table length requirements, LVD builds two base frames 20 ft. long and 14 ft. long that have lengths that can be extended by adding additional frames to the base.

The December 2020 article on LVD’s TAS emphasized a flexible system that can be outfitted with up to two towers that together can hold up to 378,000 lbs. of stored material.

Automation is becoming more and more important by the day for a variety of reasons. Equipment manufacturers recognize the growing need and have been adding more automation solutions to their product portfolios. This is especially true for laser equipment manufacturers due to the speed at which their machines operate and, in turn, the pressing need their customers have to keep up.

The TAS single or double tower storage system is available in 16 configurations, which means that it can be customized for each customer’s specific needs and floor plan. And, because it can be integrated with up to two laser cutting machines – available for 3015, 4020 and 6020 laser machine formats – the sky is the limit when it comes to pre-existing equipment.

Luxury yacht building is just one of many industries in which Breman Machinery operates.

Industrial automation offers increased throughput and safety while also addressing widespread labor shortages. Colle said this exact scenario is part of the reason that the TAS line of automation should be so desirable for fabricators. While they might not think they’re big enough to warrant a tower storage system, it’s one of the best ways for them to beat out the competition.

“It’s not just a tower,” he said. “It’s so much more than that. It’s increased efficiency and unmatched flexibility all the while offering maximum material storage management.”

Machine confidence

The belief in LVD machines harkens back to when Henk Breman used to visit with his father as a child.

“We have confidence in LVD,” he says. “We never had any issues with the previous generation of equipment. They have a proven track record. Why go to another? We are loyal to our suppliers, just like we expect our customers to return when we deliver them quality products. We trust LVD to deliver high-quality machines we can use as we intended, and that they will run successfully for many years to come.”

Breman Machinery makes parts for the oil and gas industry.

Henk and Niek Breman believe it is up to them and their employees to make the most of the machines. Digitization plays a major role in this process and LVD provided the software solutions. Both father and son see it as a challenge to realize the potential of digitization. The company, therefore, has various teams working on this theme.

“For us, software and computers are primarily a tool,” Henk says. “What counts is the craftsmanship of our employees and that they know exactly how to handle the machines.”

Just like Breman Machinery, Breman Bending intends to focus on exceptional, challenging products. This means bending thicker material that other shops can’t handle, but also producing very accurate, thin components made of all possible materials, including Hardox, copper, duplex and super duplex.

Niek Breman is raring to go, as are the employees of Breman Bending. “Brand-new machines and a new production hall make for a great environment to work in,” he says. “The new factory will increase the efficiency of the entire Breman organization. Having everything under one roof enables a rapid transition from cutting to bending. This makes us very proactive. It is also a major development for the company image. It is a bold statement to our employees, customers and suppliers, a signal we are working on our future.”

Breman Machinery

LVD

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