Innovation and sophistication from FC Laser

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FC Laser Ltd, the Derbyshire-based high-quality laser cutting and fabrication business, is not only building an enviable reputation in innovative and  intricate laser cutting services but can now offer the same sophistication in metal bending and fabrication after just seven years in business.

Managing director and founder of the business, Danny Fantom started his career in engineering in 1990 and worked his way up from a shop floor apprentice to management, retaining his characteristic ‘hands-on’ approach to the business to this day. It is this practical, supportive and
passionate approach towards his team that has helped grow the business from a turnover of £0.75 m in 2012 to more than £8 m today. Sales turnover, while important, is not the main driving force of the management team. Innovation and dedication to customer service are the key drivers behind the team’s successful track record in laser cutting, CNC folding and fabrication. 

Future investment for this expanding business includes a new 36,000 sq ft unit which will allow the team to provide additional and complementary services in-house. These services include laser tube cutting, powder coating and CNC machining. This places FC Laser in a unique position to be able to deliver customers a true ‘one stop shop’ approach for the delivery of these services.

The company understands that investment needs support from its valuable team. Each member of staff has received a personal development plan detailing their training investment, career opportunities and annual salary increases they will receive over the next five years. Progress is monitored with regular and positive staff appraisals.

With a culture of ‘quality first’, FC Laser has appointed a new operations manager this year, Daryl Lowe, who brings his 10 years of experience working at Rolls Royce to add to the impressive and growing skill base at FC Laser. This all adds to the positive vibe that exists within this growing team of highly skilled individuals.

Delivering excellence in customer service is top of the agenda at FC Laser. Not only can it be relied upon as a top-quality provider of precision laser cutting services, but with the addition of five new press brakes, sophisticated metal bending services can now be provided in-house. The star of the show is its latest press the new 4M 320 tonne Bystronic Xpert 320. It is complemented by the Xpert 150 press at 3M and a suite of Xpert 40’s. Appended to the impressive Xpert 40 press brake is a state-of-the-art mobile bending robot, improving efficiencies with consistent and repeatable accuracy of complex folds. This highly efficient bending capacity, combined with the latest ERP systems puts FC Laser in a strong position for growth over the coming years.

Having Europe's largest installation of three 10 kW Bystronic Bystar Fiber lasers up to 4M x 2M bed size, the business is literally at the ‘cutting edge’ of technology. Whatever the material and however complicated the cut, the ByStar Fiber provides the highest parts output available and at an unmatchable premium cutting quality. This impressive piece of kit can make light work on a wide range of materials, the Bystar Fiber easily cuts through thicknesses of 25 mm mild steel; 30 mm stainless steel; 30 mm aluminium; 15 mm copper and 12 mm brass.

FC Laser also employs continuous improvement techniques that more established competitors find hard to match. The recent introduction of large TV screens linked to the ERP system has meant that management has an up to the minute overview of what stage of production each job is at. Combined with individual digital feedback ‘kiosks’ on the shop floor, team members can give immediate feedback and suggest improvements to work processes.

FC Laser believes that this level of digital feedback is unique within the industry. Customer service is at the very heart of everything that FC Laser do, utilising their 5S continuous improvement processes. The company is about making the process of laser cutting, folding and fabrication as efficient and as environmentally friendly as it can. In fact, the Bystronic Bystar Fiber uses 30 percent less energy than traditional 6 kW CO2 machines and therefore helps to reduce the business's carbon footprint.

The clean layout of the 20,000 sq ft state-of-the-art production unit in Ilkeston, conveniently located just off Junction 25 of the M1 motorway, has been meticulously planned for maximum efficiency; helping to reduce customers’ manufacturing and shop floor handling time. Everything has its specific place within clearly marked bays allowing for safe and efficient forklift drop off and collection points with a continuous workflow ensured, no matter how busy the factory is throughout the 24 hours a day, seven days a week shift working pattern.

Working hand-in-hand with customers and raw material suppliers, FC Laser’s knowledgeable account management team helped to achieve the company's ISOQAR UKAS ISO 9001 and EN1090 accreditations. FC Laser’s unique approach to account management means that the designers, engineers and production operatives can concentrate on the job in hand. Their ‘OTIF’ (On Time in Full) measurements are some of the highest in the country and is the most important area that the whole team focus on.

The business is on a rapid growth trajectory, despite an uncertain economic outlook in the U.K. and Europe. With numbers steadily increasing beyond the current 60 workers, the business is keen to take on more staff especially apprentices who can benefit from FC Laser’s unique staff training and development programme.

From internal ‘quality forums’ to regular financial performance presentations, the management team work hard to keep everyone well informed and fairly remunerated, with regular performance bonuses no matter what level they operate at within the business.

The future growth of the business is just as reliant on its investment in its people, as it is in having the very latest high-tech machinery. A strategic growth plan over the next five years will see the company expand its operation at the Ilkeston site with extra production capacity afforded by a new 36,000 sq ft unit. However, the current production site has ample potential for expansion as plans are put in place for the future. With this in mind, FC Laser is proud to be associated with Sheffield University’s ‘One stop shop automated factory of 2050’ with funding available to work alongside students on this innovative programme. 

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