NOVEMBER 2017 The FABRICATOR 101
the term had been created, and for
years technology had yet to catch up.
Industry 4.0, big data, and all the rest
are difficult to accomplish with dial-up internet access.
That all changed by 2007 when he
launched 24/7 Tailor Steel in Varssev-eld, a Dutch town not far from the German border. It started small but grew
extraordinarily quickly. Today the
company is expecting to grow by 45
percent, no small feat for a fabricator
that employs 250 people in two plants.
24/7 ended 2016 with more than 50
million euros in sales, and on average
the company gains 19 new customers
a day. All told, the fabricator has about
5,000 customers. Most start with small
quantities—one of this, a half dozen of
that—but as the relationship matures,
“By 2020 we plan to double our [an-
nual sales] and employ 550 people,”
van Sorgen said. “And this is only the
beginning. Instead of additional ma-
chines, we are now thinking in addi-
Most fab shop managers deal-
ing with such astronomical growth
wouldn’t have time to talk to report-
ers, mainly because they’d be dealing
with a chaotic shop floor. But 24/7
Tailor Steel isn’t chaotic. Everything
The fabricator doesn’t have traditional salespeople, nor does it employ
an army of estimators and production
planners. It instead employs just two
people in the front office who handle
customer service calls and manage
certain credit checks. Everything else
happens automatically online.
Here’s how it works. A customer
visits a web-based platform called
Sophia, short for Sophisticated Intelligent Analyzer. “Sophia also happens
to be the name of my oldest daughter,” van Sorgen said.
Customers upload a CAD drawing,
be it cut flat or bent, choose a material grade and thickness, then choose
a quantity and ship date. Customers
also choose whether they can accept
deliveries early. If the file incorporates
multiple pieces or an entire assembly,
the software splits it into its component parts. If the parts require painting or welding, 24/7 has partnerships
with nearby suppliers, so those elements can be incorporated into the
quote as well.
The software even checks for manufacturability. For instance, it checks for tooling problems or collisions in the
bend sequence. In the not-too-distant future, the company
hopes to incorporate bend simulation videos to show customers just how a part will be bent; or, if the part can’t be
bent, the simulation will show why. If a part will be powder
coated at the local supplier, software even simulates how
the part will hang to ensure the supplier’s robotized powder
coating system provides adequate, consistent coverage.
Within minutes the customer has a quote in hand. That
quote is good for 48 hours. If it’s not accepted at that point,
When the customer accepts the quote, the job is nested,
and sent to one of the company’s flat cutting lasers ( 22 of
them across two plants), or one tube laser, which is in the
company’s plant in Germany.
Employees refer to screens that show which machines
are cutting what, in real time. “The screen shows the
machine, the process it’s undergoing, the fact it’s running
part two and three out of a total of eight parts [in a nest],”