Tools and tooling systems
for wood and plastics

Excellent finish, longer life, astonishing productivity: Leitz Tooling

Coachman caravan production

Click for full story in Woodworking News Jan 2016

December 2015
 

“We hear about all sorts of different production and manufacturing issues, from a poor finish right through to noise, but when a company’s production can’t keep up with assembly, they’ve got a big problem,” said Leitz Tooling sales manager Brian Maddox. “However, in many cases, the solution just might be as simple as the tooling.” 

Leitz Tooling hears this from customers time and time again. 

“Looking at your true production cost per widget, product or panel can really help identify what potential issues might be. If you’re changing saw blades twice a shift, having to check for clogging up or have expensive rectification issues, take a closer look at the tooling and servicing you’re using.”

This is exactly what two market leading British caravan manufacturers Coachman and Elddis did.

Caravan makers were hit hard by the recession, but figures from the National Caravan Council show a double-digit increase in the sales of new touring caravan and motorhome registrations in 2014, and the signs of consumer confidence and economic recovery been good for the caravan industry for some time. The industry has been growing steadily, with firms of all sizes reporting improvement year on year.

Both Elddis and Coachman had been experiencing increasing pressure on production and needed to get production to the assembly departments faster to meet demand. This could be considered a ‘good’ problem, but it is one both companies recognised as a serious issue which had to be resolved. 

Coachman Caravans has a reputation for producing high quality, well-built products. Care and attention is taken over every model and they are crafted with design and construction quality front of mind. 

Steve Marsh, Coachman’s machine shop manager said, “The diamond nesting routers on our CNCs were lasting two or three working days. We had to constantly check the boards and tool for clogging. The frequent down time alone was a big problem.” The diamond nesting routers from Coachman’s previous tooling supplier were less than half the price of the equivalent offered by Leitz, but once the whole production cost was evaluated, the solution was clear. “Leitz diamond nesting router is very impressive. Its first run lasted 37 days on the machine and we got though almost twelve times the number of sheets with no clogging, vastly reduced noise, a great finish and double the feed speed. With more diamond edges giving an up and down cut, it’s just a far superior product.” 

Elddis started life as a manufacturer in 1964. In the 50+ years since, the company has expanded and today includes some of the UK's most well-known and best-selling brands: Elddis, Compass, Xplore and Buccaneer. All caravans and motorhomes are manufactured in the Company's County Durham production facility, which employs 350 skilled staff. In 2012, Elddis launched its industry-leading SoLiD Construction and remains the first and only manufacturer to full bond all of its leisure vehicles. 

“Elddis is a UK success story. Our award-winning ranges are in demand and with our sustained growth, hold-ups in production are unacceptable,” said Brian Jackson, production manager for Elddis. Both Elddis and Coachman have similar CNC routers, but used tooling products from different suppliers. “At Elddis, we had to run the previous diamond nesting router slower to help the finish. It was noisy, and after the first service, the tips were coming off. We went to Leitz for a solution, and they delivered on everything we needed.”  

Brian Maddox said, “Of course there are tools which cost less than ours and, on paper, perform the same task, but our tools are faster, better, and over the life of the tool and the cost of the products made, without doubt, are much less expensive.”

Every tool from Leitz is manufactured to BS EN847 1-3, which means every tool is tested to a high standard of accuracy and safety, helping prolong the life of the tool and, ultimately, the machines they are used with. “Our tools give an excellent finish on most materials, which mean less sanding and rectification, less coating and ultimately, lower labour costs. Companies can become fixated on the purchase price of tools, but correct, quality tools can have a fantastic positive impact on other costs,” continued Brian. “You have to ask yourself, what would you pay for twelve times the productivity from the same tool?” 

Steve Marsh said, “Buying quality makes all the difference.”