Embracing change

An emphasis on process rather than creating products is Budget Sheet Metal’s goal.

When Claudio Ferrari (Mechanical Engineer) and Sietse Walma van der Molen (Industrial Engineer) purchased Budget Sheet Metal in 2007, with the support of Ketti van der Molen, an economist, and Sigrid Ferrari, an analyst, they knew they had a challenging task ahead of them. Earning a reputation for innovation and quality is a difficult task. It is particularly arduous but equally impressive when the turn around is achieved in a relatively short time frame.

“The previous owner, who started the company in 1991, had decided to disinvest and emigrate when we made our bold move. At the time the business was on a comfortable footing but, for various reasons, struggling to achieve any growth,” said Claudio Ferrari, who sadly does not have a direct family connection with the famous automotive manufacturer.

“Sietse, Ketti, Sigrid and I share a combined experience in excess of 90 years in manufacturing and we needed a change from the previous business which which was in the food manufacturing industry,” continued Claudio.


Pride of place on the Budget Sheet Metal shopfloor is its Amada LC-C1 punch/laser combination machine

“When we took over we knew we could fix it. Controls, systems and computerisation were implemented to encompass all facets of the business and we began to change the inherited perception that our main focus was manufacturing rainwater components such as gutters and down pipes,” reflected Claudio.

“We also took a fundamental decision to have an emphasis on process rather than creating our own products. There are virtually no Budget Sheet Metal products. The company’s strategy is to work with our clients to manufacture sheet metal fabrications to their own specifications and individual needs, while ensuring protection of their intellectual property. I believe that we have achieved these objectives and are now building on a reputation whereby we are recognised for taking a product design idea, improving it and processing the product or component using the multiple, complex operations and skill sets that are now at our disposal.”

Technology perspective
Although the family team of four is fully engaged in the business it is easy to identify that Sietse is more comfortable on the shopfloor. His enthusiastic approach to my factory tour confirms my suspicions and he is not scared to hide his feelings.


The family team of Ketti van der Molen, Sigrid Ferrari, Sietse Walma van der Molen and Claudio Ferrari

He is proud that Budget Sheet Metal is a successful service provider and this is jealously guarded. However, he knows that to remain this way, the company must stay ahead of the competition. To do this, he has to invest in the latest advanced technology and always be tuned into ways to make his services increasingly more unique, which usually involves more advanced technological investment and a continual rethinking of how to process components.

“We are constantly looking at ways of taking out or improving steps in the manufacturing process. With our emphasis on process rather than creating our own products we like to say that we meet and exceed client expectations, which we do by emphasising quality through the elimination of human involvement and variability by the use of advanced technology. If you don’t keep an eye on the future—if you take a break from the competitive battle—the future will blow by you with a vengeance.”

“We are always pursuing new clients in diverse markets and chasing manufacturing challenges. This has created a cycle of learning and by doing that it has allowed us to pursue still more challenges,” said Sietse.


The look and feel of Budget Sheet Metal is certainly bright and breezy and does not fit that of an engineering company in an industrial area

“Having said that let me make a pitch for buying new machines. Too many shops are running old, worn out machines that have been fully depreciated on the books, generating no depreciation cash flow. Fooling yourself that the old machine doesn’t cost anything except parts is, in my opinion, a mistake.”

“The new machines are more capable, they are easier to maintain, hold closer tolerances, are more productive and make you very competitive with the cost per part because of the time saved and quality produced.”

“However it is not just about cutting, bending, punching or forming. You always need to look at the downstream processes as well. One of our examples is our recent installation of a Walther Trowal CD 300 circular vibratory deburring machine that uses ceramic media and a Walther Trowal GT 200 circular vibratory drying machine. The machines are designed for mass finishing and although we regard ourselves as a ‘batch’ operation, in other words we do more than one operation, we are also capable of production runs, especially if you look at that equipment we have purchased over the last few years,” explained Sietse.


A shoe storage and display product that Budget Sheet Metal is manufacturing for a client

“Another example is our welding department. We look for precision especially in the LED lighting products that we supply clients. We first installed a Yaskawa Motoman MA1900 – DX100 with SKS power joint robotic welding equipment for tack and welding operations. We designed our own table and jigs for this setup.”

“We have also just purchased two Siegmund clamping and welding tables for our precision welding operations.”

In recent years the company has poured millions into new equipment to back up their strategy of being a process orientated company.

“We now have an Amada Lasmac LC-2415 Alpha III CO2 laser cutting machine and two Amada press brakes, one being an Amada HFE 130-3 press brake with a bending length of 3 220 mm and the other an Amada HFE 100-3 press brake with a bending length of 3 110 mm. There are a couple of older press brakes that we inherited as well.”


A service unit that in future you will find on the forecourts of Total service stations. Budget Sheet Metal were involved from concept to finished product. These are the kind of challenges that Budget Sheet Metal have been able to successfully manage

The newest addition in this department, which was only installed last year, is an Amada LC-C1 punch/laser combination machine. An energy saving single AC servo drive motor provides 20 tons of variable punching stroke, while both the nozzle and lens offer quick-change laser technology. Furthermore, a 49-station punching turret is provided to accommodate even the most demanding of jobs. Included in the package are forming and tapping functions and an automatic part removal system.

“It’s no secret that punching is faster than laser cutting when it comes to the use of standard tooling to produce repeat features. For this reason, most manufacturers with combination machines punch as many features as possible to achieve better cost per part, while the laser is used for aesthetic profiling, or on apertures for which there is no tool,” explained Sietse.

“The Amada combination machine makes the supply of prototypes much more cost effective than before thanks to its flexibility,” says Sietse. “As a company we openly seek quick-turnaround prototype work. In our experience, the supplier that makes the best job of prototypes is often rewarded with the production contract. Over the years we have nurtured a strong prototype arm to our business and today we are able to quickly transform client ideas and concepts into value engineered products, from single prototypes to volume parts.”


In the welding department the company looks for precision, especially in the LED lighting products that are supplied to clients. Budget Sheet Metal installed a Yaskawa Motoman MA1900 – DX100 with SKS power joint robotic welding equipment for tack and welding operations and designed its own table and jigs for this setup

“The beauty of this machine is that because it is equipped with an automated sheet loader we can setup a programme, run it overnight with an unmanned night shift and the parts are all ready for us in the morning. And this could constitute a number of different parts.”

“We have invested in propriety software such as SolidWorks, Sheetworks, AP 100 and Dr ABE (nesting process) so that we get the most out of our costing, scheduling and designing departments. It gives us the title of being ‘problem solvers’ for clients in that we can take their basic drawings and turn them into manufacturing drawings while also working out the most cost effective production route,” said Sietse.

Virtual Prototype Simulation System (VPSS)
“In addition we have incorporated Amada’s VPSS process system into our manufacturing environment. VPSS is Amada’s proprietary, verification-based system used to thoroughly study and evaluate a customer’s total manufacturing process—a vital first step towards engineering a customised solution. The system allows you to check all aspects of manufacturing on a computer before actually making the part. The VPSS system analyses the product or component in question, evaluates the company’s manufacturing process and then provides a targeted solution to simplifying the process. Based on VPSS data, Amada provides a solution that is tailored to specific needs and engineered to make 24/7 green-light time a reality. Then, the solution is demonstrated and verified in real time, on real machines, at the Amada Solution Center in Japan, which both Claudio and I have visited and experienced. This is one of the best features offered by Amada as a company’s existing manufacturing line can be adapted to make it meet specific production requirements,” explained Sietse.

Services and products
Budget Sheet Metal supplies a multi-sectorial client base with presence in various industries including security, construction, banking, signage, electronics, mining, shop fitting, catering, interior design, decorating and various others. The clients range from small businesses to Blue Chip listed companies and, as the partners say, there is a high level of mutual loyalty and ethics that has been created between the company and their clients.


Budget Sheet Metal has two Amada press brakes, one a Amada HFE 130-3 press brake with a bending length of 3 220 mm and the other an Amada HFE 100-3 press brake with a bending length of 3 110 mm

The materials (sheets, plates and long sections) most commonly processed consist of sheets and profiles of mild steel, stainless steel, Chromadek, galvanized steel and aluminium in thicknesses from 0.5 mm to 6.0 mm, with laser profiling available up to 12 mm thickness in mild steel.

The production services that are offered include product design (CAD) 2D and 3D, CNC laser cutting, CNC automatic punching, CNC bending, guillotining, punching, eccentric pressing, drilling, tapping, manual and robotic welding (TIG, MIG, Spot and Arc), deburring and finishing, grinding, and assembling.

Further finishing services are offered such as powder-coating (SABS ISO 9000), plating and galvanizing (SABS ISO 9002).


This year Budget Sheet Metal has installed a Walther Trowal CD 300 circular vibratory deburring machine that uses ceramic media and a Walther Trowal GT 200 circular vibratory drying machine

Budget Sheet Metal manufactures a variety of products that span across industries and can be made to clients’ own specifications. Examples of the products, besides general profiling, that they have manufactured include motor vehicle components, solar panel stands, panels, bins, cabinets, light boxes and fittings, brackets and supports, shelving, skirting, kick plates, cladding, signage, gutters and down pipes, rainwater goods, 19” and 21” racks, enclosures, mobile home components, concrete shuttering / mouldings, medical appliances, street pole adverts, road signs, door frames, theft resistant cages, compressor housings, safes, refrigeration panels, custom angles and channels, fascias, electronic housings, tile stands, stainless steel components, parts for water features, steel letterings, sign boards, flashings, dispensers, counters, boxes and trays.

Their manufactured products can be spotted at various household name venues such as such as the Gautrain, FNB, MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Total, Sasol, Caltex, Shell, SPAR, Shoprite, Pick ‘n Pay, Massmart, McDonalds, Debonairs, Wimpy, hospitals, police stations, railway terminals, airports, stadiums and various shopping centres with many products reaching Australia, Germany and numerous African countries.


The mouldings for the eland statue, which was erected outside of the University of the Witwatersrand, were installed by Budget Sheet Metal

“The business is effectively the workshop for numerous companies which outsource their products’ manufacture while they concentrate on the marketing and selling of the products, hence the enormous variety of products manufactured and the flexibility of production,” commented Claudio.

“I firmly believe in investing in the latest and best. It’s what keeps us ahead of the competition. The trick is that you’ve got to keep investing, keep learning and keep advancing,” Claudio continued.

The look and feel of this company is certainly bright and breezy and does not fit that of an engineering company in an industrial area. The team made sure of that when they decided to move 200 metres up the road in 2012. When you arrive at reception you get the feeling that you are visiting an advertising agency, with its modern décor coming to the fore. The front office is sleek and memorable and the shopfloor exudes a high-tech feel. Stainless steel elements line the walls and the waiting area includes a variety of parts the company has made. “Anyone who does business with this shop will recognise those parts,” said Claudio.


The completed eland statue

“We wanted to give the company some colour and light. We wanted clients and employees to walk in here and feel good. And now they do – they love it. When you walk in here, you don’t know you’re walking into a typical engineering company. It’s all about shaking off the albatross of manufacturing’s image. We did not want a garage feel,” explained Claudio.

Sietse has taken this feel through to the shopfloor with storage bins and cabinets, all manufactured by Budget themselves, branded and designed for efficiency and to shape a good first impression that may help manufacturing shake off its bad-image.


On the laser cutting side Budget Sheet Metal has an Amada Lasmac LC-2415 Alpha III CO2 laser cutting machine

A factor that makes this company unique is that the clients can interact directly with the owners, allowing decisions to be made quickly and efficiently, avoiding corporate red tape and miscommunication. This has permitted the team to succeed in intricate projects such as the mouldings for the eland statue, which was erected outside of the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008 and the development of an intricate new system of manufacture required for the corporate re-branding of the Total service units in 2012. This system was subsequently adopted even by competitors and has extended the boundaries of sheetmetal applications.

Currently the company employs 40 staff, is certified as a LEVEL 2 contributor to BBBEE qualifying as Value Adding Supplier resulting in a hefty 156.25% BEE procurement recognition level.

For further details contact Budget Sheet Metal on TEL: 011 792 5981 or visit www.budgetsheetmetal.co.za