Monday | 09 February, 2009 | 3:19 am

Providing the (Jet) edge

By Andy Barks

February 2009 - As a leading name in the waterjet industry, Jet Edge, St. Michael, Minn., could make its share of sales without incorporating marketing ploys or going out of its way to accommodate clients.

However, thanks to a relatively new partnership with SigmaTek Systems LLC, Cincinnati, the appeal of many Jet Edge products now lies in their simplicity. By supplying waterjet customers with the SigmaNest Companion CAD/CAM nesting software, the company allows the operator automatic nesting of partsÑin a short time frame with minimal training.

Ideal customer support
According to Jason Stevens, project engineer at Reuel Inc., Goldsboro, N.C., the process has been broken down quite well. Reuel had never made a Jet Edge purchase, but shortly after buying an ultra-high-pressure mid-rail gantry system, Stevens facilitated the training of five employees and was put at ease by the system's intuitiveness.

"The vertical integration makes it much easier," says Stevens. "From the time we made the purchase, the training covered everything we needed to know, and any hiccups we might run into were covered."

Additionally, a "one-call for service" policy allows Reuel and other clients to avoid dealing with different representatives for separate services. Having extensively researched a variety of waterjet systems before deciding on the purchase, Stevens admits that sort of accommodation factored into his choice.

Initially, the purpose for the purchase was to save costs allotted to outsourcing. Before making the deal with Jet Edge, Reuel had been cutting materials, such as fiberglass, elsewhere. Now, the company plans to use its latest acquisition for steel, polycarbonate and copper, as well.

Overall enhancement
"[The waterjet] is almost self-maintained," says Stevens, who oversees an 111,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that also features vertical milling centers, wire EDM machines, CNC lathes, a variety of punches and press brakes, and about a dozen hydraulic molding presses.

"It can pretty much be left unattended, which allows us to run a more efficient operation overall," he says. "We haven't had any sort of glitches yet, and we're covered if we do. I don't think maintenance will be a problem."

Jet-Edge's 24-hour service may seem like a minor detail, but, according to Stevens, it's something of a rarity. Many other suppliers offer some variation of 8-to-5, over-the-phone customer service.

The new equipment has only been at Reuel a short time, but the company's capabilities have already expanded significantly. With its new machine, Reuel is now cutting complex parts from almost any material, and thanks to the support and foundation laid by Jet Edge, it's devising unique, customized methods to do so. MM

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