Gresham boosts output by 50% with BLM electric tube bender investment

typewriter engineer Ted Smith started producing desks in his garden shed. Now, under the guidance of Julian Roebuck, who became Managing Director in 2008 after a management buyout (MBO), the Bolton-based business now operates out of a 200,000 ft2 state-of-the-art factory that produces over 1000 chairs alone every day.


The MBO at the height of the financial crash provided the opportunity for a fresh look at the business and to move it in a new direction, which included looking at value stream mapping, workflow and general improvements in efficiency. The latter providing the opportunity for Operations Manager, David Openshaw to review the tube bending capability at Gresham, bringing in an all-electric BLM E-TURN 52 to complement the two existing tube benders from BLM and, adding greater capacity and efficiency. The combined result of these changes saw the business win the prestigious Mixology North Manufacturer of the Year Award in 2016. “Gresham was extremely successful before we implemented these changes, but with these new ideas, equipment and diversification into new markets, such as hospitality and corporate, as well as increasing export sales, we have seen a 50 per cent growth in turnover over the past 7-8 years to around £30 million and we employ 250 full time. With more potential still to be realised it’s fair to say that Gresham is now a waking giant,” says David Openshaw.

One of the advantages that Gresham has over its competitors is it reaction time to orders, with

resham Office Furniture has come a long way since its creation some 40 years ago when

Rigth and above: Furniture manufactured by Gresham Office Furniture using the BLM E-TURN 52

10-days being a typical lead time. The introduction of the BLM E-TURN 52 will play a significant part in maintaining that advantage due to its efficiency and flexibility. “We are finding that the E-TURN 52 has increased output by around 50 per cent compared to the older hydraulic machines, which we installed over 16 years ago, the only restriction we have in terms of further gains are the ability of the operator to keep up, but we do have an option for automated loading in the future. The reassurance of BLM being one of, if not the, largest manufacturer of tube processing machinery was also an influence on our decision, as was seeing the impressive manufacturing facility,” says David Openshaw. The efficiency of the E-TURN comes from its all- electric axes operation, which is both energy and environmentally efficient, as the machine only draws power when it’s required, reducing operational power requirement by around 50 per cent and idle power is reduced by around 85 per cent.

The electric operation also has a positive influence on bend accuracy and repeatability, once set every bend is good, removing much of the requirement for highly-skilled setter/operators. The E-TURN 52 installed at

Gresham is one from a very comprehensive range of BLM All-Electric tube benders with a capacity to handle tube from 6 to 52 mm diameter with a 2mm wall thickness. The electric operation of the machine’s axes mean that no

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