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Laser Technology

Opening doors

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Ermaksan’s Momentum Gen-3 2kW fiber laser allows Olmar Supply Co. to make parts three to five times faster.

Service, quick turnaround and fiber laser-anchored parts production keeps customers coming back and creates new business lines

April 2020 - Writer and historian James Truslow Adams coined the term American dream in his bestselling 1931 book, “Epic of America.” He described the ideal as “a land in which life should be better …for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

It’s a story with which Mike Baryla, CEO of Olmar Supply Co., is familiar. “My dad, Mark Baryla, started the business in 1999,” he says. “He immigrated from Poland in the 1980s with nothing, worked a few jobs and then opened the company in a 1,000-sq.-ft. commercial garage space with a couple of machines.”

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Based in Livermore, California, the fledging manufacturer fed parts like brackets, angles and flashings to the commercial construction industry. “My dad felt that customer service was lacking in the marketplace so he grounded his business on the principle of quick turnaround and the mindset that the customer is always right,” says Baryla. “It’s kept people coming back.”

Today the company is a Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA) member and has earned several Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety certifications. The sheet metal fabrication specialist houses its operations in two buildings totaling 30,000 sq. ft. It makes and distributes steel stud and track members, radius, arch, ellipse, serpentine products, custom and heavy-gauge purlins, milling, slotted top track products with custom leg sizes, flashing, welding for wall supports, custom tube assemblies, king and jamb studs, paintable or galvanized light coves and boxes, mounting brackets and clips, milling, turning and custom fabrication. A diverse customer base stretches from construction to aerospace.

“We’ve grown,” acknowledges Baryla. “We still manufacture the components my dad started the company with, but we’ve modernized. Ermak has helped us there with some smart equipment investments.”

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Nested parts cut for local manufacturer that welds large assemblies for vintage muscle cars.

Recouping time

In 2016, Olmar Supply installed Ermaksan’s Momentum Gen-3 2kW fiber laser and a 5-ft. by 10-ft. dual-shuttle table. The company was making parts the same day.

“The fiber laser allows us to optimize our manufacturing processes, and it has opened the door to new business.” The machine is able to cut carbon steel up to 5/8 in. thick, stainless up to 5/16 in. thick and aluminum up to ¼ in. thick.

The company primarily uses galvanized steel, along with some stainless and aluminum. Baryla says familiarity guided his equipment choices. “We already had an Ermaksan press brake so we knew something about the company and their service and support philosophy. That, and the fact we got the best value for the capabilities we wanted, prompted us to invest in the Gen-3 fiber laser.”

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Olmar Supply purchases galvanized sheets and laser-cuts parts for downstream operations such as bending and welding.

“We were running a lot of products on older punch presses,” says Baryla. “We can make those parts on the fiber laser in a quarter of the time it took on the punch presses. We can also cut more complex shapes without having to change tooling all the time.”

For example, he says, Olmar makes parts for heavy-gauge purlins for prefabricated modular building applications. The parts are then shaped on the Ermaksan press brake. “We have a radius track part that was very labor intensive and time consuming to process on the punch press,” he continues. “We moved that job to the fiber laser and boosted throughput significantly.”

The company also produces screen covers for stairwells. “With the fiber laser, we can cut parts out of thicker aluminum. It’s really nice for those kinds of jobs but, overall, we are making parts three to five times faster on the fiber laser.”

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The Gen-3 fiber laser runs approximately 14 hours a day. Baryla estimates that downtime over the last four years totals a mere two days.

“Servo motors deliver 2.5G acceleration, which reduces cutting time and increases productivity by approximately 15 percent per hour,” says Senol Rodoplu, vice president of sales for Ermak USA Inc. “All Ermaksan fiber lasers are built on a single welded frame and a stress-relieved body to achieve tight tolerances.” The Lantek Expert Cut nesting software increases efficiency by providing the operator with solutions for a variety of different parts and shapes, he says. “It also calculates cut times and thicknesses for different parts, which allows companies like Olmar to estimate job costs upfront.”

Nurturing traditions

The fiber laser’s Windows-based CNC controller is intuitive and allows remote diagnostics. Upgrades are free. Piercing and cut loss control can also be performed by the laser cut monitor.

“Our company was built on quick lead times, but those windows are shrinking even further,” Baryla notes. “We get a lot of makeup orders, which occur when something has been missed. If a company can’t get those parts quickly, it could mean a lot of guys standing around on a construction site waiting. We’re able to process and deliver parts quickly,” aided by a fleet of six trucks.

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Aluminum trim panel, ¼-in. steel brackets and ¼-in. aluminum TV mount sliders are just some of the parts Olmar Supply laser cuts.

The fiber laser also handles the manufacturer’s mix of high- and low-volume jobs. A recent contract calls for the fabricator to cut ¼-in.-thick aluminum mounts with slots and holes before the parts are sent to the press brake. “We couldn’t have done that before,” Baryla says.

While construction industry tolerances aren’t quite as rigid as for other applications, the fiber laser has opened the door to work that requires greater precision.

“We’ve been cutting parts for a local manufacturer that makes parts for vintage muscle cars,” he says. “Those parts have to be precise because they are being welded into big assemblies. We’ve also been processing ¼-in. and 3/8-in. stainless brackets that semiconductor companies need to bolt high-dollar equipment to the floor. It’s a high mix volume job. That’s what is so nice about the fiber laser—we can nest parts and optimize material usage.”

Baryla took charge of the company full time in 2018. “My dad said he wanted to retire so I sold my businesses and stepped in,” he says. Preserving a legacy is also part of the American dream, something Baryla is committed to maintaining for both his family and for Olmar’s customers. FFJ

Sources

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