Adding two fiber laser machines and a high-performance air cutting system were the secret ingredients to Royal Range’s recipe for continued growth
Restaurants did not always exist. While it seems like food services have been around since the dawn of time, the restaurant concept did not come into existence until the mid-eighteenth century in Paris.
But now, restaurants are seen all over the world. According to the National Restaurant Association, there are more than 1 million restaurants in the United states with over 15.6 million employees in the industry. By 2030 it is projected that there will be an additional 1.6 million new restaurant jobs.
One company that helps put food on the table for this industry is Royal Range of California Inc. Since 1995, Royal Range of California has been serving up high-quality commercial restaurant equipment. Offering an extensive line of ranges, ovens, fryers and countertop cooking equipment, Royal Range’s commercial kitchen equipment has stood the test of time.
L. Vasan, President of Royal Range, took over the company in 2003 and has created a multitude of success for Royal Range. Before purchasing Royal Range and its sister company Rankin-Delux, Vasan was designing and engineering commercial and residential gas cooking appliances for more than two decades for some of the biggest names in the industry including Wolf Range Co. on the commercial side and consulting for Viking, Jennair, and Maytag on the residential side. His experience in the commercial food industry and passion for engineering excellence has created a recipe for success.
The commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer has gradually built its business from customers on a local level, to regional, to national, to now international. Vasan explains, “Royal Range is slowly landing customers at the national restaurant chain level, such as California Pizza Kitchen. These chains are recognizing that Royal Range’s products are as good as the big guys in the industry.”
Royal Range of California also takes pride in manufacturing its products here, at home, in the United States. These commercial cooking products are designed and constructed in Royal Range’s modern 52,000 square foot facility in Eastvale, California. By performing both research and development and manufacturing at one central location, it ensures that Royal Range fabricates award-winning products.
But in order to have superior ranges, ovens, fryers and countertop equipment, that requires top shelf fabrication equipment.
Too many cooks in the kitchen
Originally, Royal Range was using a punch machine and shear to cut sheet metal for all its product lines. With Royal Range cutting on average 350 sheets of metal per week, this equipment not only created a bottleneck in production, but it was inefficient for labor utilization.
“We had two guys doing nothing but cutting metal with the shear all day and two other workers operating the punch machine,” says Vasan.
The punch machine also created multiple constraints for Royal Range when it came to machining and tooling. Vasan explains, “In order to design a product we need to make the prototype for first unit testing. When using the punch machine, there were too many disruptions in the processes, as well as not having the proper tooling options available. We could not design anything using the punch machine without having to spend money to do so.”
Luckily, Royal Range’s sister company Rankin-Delux had a more than 20-year-old CO2 Mazak laser machine that could be used. As the business continued to grow, so did the volume of products being produced. “The speed of the old CO2 laser was nowhere we needed it to be. It could not keep up with our high increase in volume,” explains Vasan.
When the original laser was initially purchased in 1999, it was cutting-edge technology but as technology advances over time, so have laser-cutting machines. But the punch machine, shear cutter, and outdated CO2 laser could not handle the heat in Royal Range’s increase in production volume.
After a service visit for the CO2 Mazak laser, Vasan was recommended by Gary Pyles, Field Service Engineer at Mazak Optonics, to consider purchasing one of Mazak’s latest fiber lasers. At the time, Vasan was not aware of the advancements in laser-cutting technology, especially with fiber laser-technology. Vasan then connected with Doug Young, Regional Sales Manager for Mazak Optonics, to discuss Royal Range’s fabrication needs and criteria for a new laser machine.
Some criteria that Royal Range needed was the ability to cut a wider range of material thicknesses and to keep up with the demand of incoming volume. Vasan mentions, “We typically cut 20 gauge up to 12 gauge in stainless steel and non-stainless steel.”
The need to increase processing speed and ability to have a wider range of laser applications motivated Vasan to consider a new laser-cutting solution. With the existing connection to Mazak along with the sheet metal processing criteria led Royal Range to discover the OPTIPLEX NEXUS FIBER.
The right technology mix
In late 2018, Royal Range implemented a 2kW OPTIPLEX NEXUS 3015 FIBER laser machine. This fiber laser was able to match the cutting criteria Royal Range needed and increased the speed of manufacturing its commercial grade kitchen equipment.
Six months after the Mazak fiber laser was installed, Royal Range was already looking to add another machine. Vasan explains, “The first fiber laser was a great improvement to our business. But volume was still increasing, and we needed even more part throughput.”
After weighing options for another Mazak laser, Vasan decided to go with another OPTIPLEX NEXUS 3015 FIBER, this time with 4kW of power accompanied by a high-performance dry air cutting system by Liberty Systems from Accessorie Air Compressor Systems, Inc. in Orange California. High-performance dry air systems, often referred to as high-pressure air, are gaining popularity throughout the laser-cutting industry due to providing exceptional edge quality with certain materials at a reduced operating cost.
Vasan was influenced by these benefits and decided to install a high-performance air system alongside the Mazak lasers. He explains, “Air is composed of over 70 percent nitrogen. The cost of laser-cutting with nitrogen is quite high and the edge quality of parts with high-pressure air is still of a high caliber with the fiber laser. It just made sense to save money and not have to compromise on quality.
With over twenty years of servicing the original CO2 laser, Royal Range had built a partnership with Mazak Optonics which gave the manufacturer confidence in choosing to implement the new fiber lasers. Vasan explains, “Mazak’s service support responds very well and I have seen that over the years. With all the support I knew Royal Range would receive for the laser machines, I knew we wouldn’t have an issue keeping machines up and running.”
By building a relationship with Mazak over the last twenty years, Royal Range also knew that Mazak understood their products and business operations. “With Gary servicing the CO2 laser machine, he understood our operation and how we needed to manufacture our products successfully. After taking his suggestion to invest in a fiber laser, the results came true. This has only increased my trust with Mazak even further,” says Vasan.
However, the most impressive factor about the OPTIPLEX NEXUS 3015 FIBER laser to Vasan is the efficiency of the machine with minimal maintenance. Royal Range keeps up with the few preventative maintenance procedures required for each fiber laser, and the machines are able to run efficiently.
“We change what we need to change, keep the lasers clean, and perform any preventative maintenance when necessary. Because of this, there is no machine downtime and they are trouble-free. If we do run into any issues, I know I can rely on Charlie Zeman in technical support or Greg Furman in software to get us back on track quickly.” Vasan continues, “Nothing but good things have come from Mazak’s service team. They always come through when needed.”
Layers of benefits
Royal Range has experienced multiple benefits after installing two Mazak fiber lasers in its facility. In its laser operations, part throughput and speed of cutting have increased tremendously. “We are able to produce four to six times more in production with the two OPTIPLEX NEXUS FIBER lasers. When we are running parts in low volume and prototype parts for product development, the turnaround time is faster and more economical,” says Vasan.
Another area Royal Range has experienced benefits is through regaining cost-savings. The first cost-saving is having a lowered utility bill for gasses thanks to implementing the high-pressure air system. Vasan mentions, “We have seen significant cost savings from the high-performance air system. We are saving approximately $4,000 per month by utilizing high-pressure air rather than nitrogen for our laser-cutting operations.”
After installing the two fiber lasers, Royal Range was also able to see direct cost-savings through redistributing labor to increase production. Vasan says, “We were able to reassign four employees who were operating the punch machine and shear cutter to other parts of our production. I can now have one guy run both lasers.” He continues, “This has saved Royal Range on the cost of labor and increased our operational efficiencies with the newly distributed labor.”
Not only have the fiber lasers increased labor efficiency, but when paired with RADAN software Royal Range is able to make parts more economical, functional, and aesthetic. Royal Range’s RADAN Profiling software applies a unique algorithm that maximizes sheet utilization, which results in minimized material scrap. If there are any disconnects between parts in the nest program, the profiling software will connect any gaps in the geometry and smooth out any uneven curves. With just a few clicks, Royal Range can increase its sheet metal utilization.
Vasan mentions, “The RADAN Profiling software helps a lot with our programming. It is fast and intuitive to use and keeps us from making mistakes. This leads to reduced material scrap. On a full sheet, I can fit most of my parts with little scrap left.” Having minimal scrap enables Royal Range to get the most out of its investment in sheet metal for its kitchen equipment.
One of Vasan’s favorite benefits of implementing the fiber lasers is the “wow” factor they bring to the table. The impressive capabilities of the two OPTIPLEX NEXUS FIBER laser machines allow Royal Range to capitalize on the quality of its commercial grade kitchen equipment.
Vasan explains, “We have customers that come to our facility for training and we love to show-off the lasers. The customers are always so starstruck by the fiber lasers’ capabilities. This helps us build more value in our products by showing they are made with cutting-edge technology.”
With the new laser-cutting equipment, Vasan continues to develop Royal Range’s success. His persistence to exceed past other cooking equipment manufacturers has built a strong reputation for Royal Range’s high-quality products and after-sale customer support.
Adding the new Mazak fiber lasers and high-performance air cutting system will be the bread and butter to Royal Range’s manufacturing success for years to come.
Article published in the October issue of FAB Shop Magazine Direct.