Established in 1982, Ian Firth Hardware have grown to be one of the leading UK suppliers of internal door kits and external door sets along with hardware products, serving all the major house builders throughout the country. From humble beginnings working from the family home, founder and now chairman Ian Firth started out by supplying local builders and tradesmen with ironmongery. Fast forward nearly 40 years the Dewsbury based company now operate from a modern, large manufacturing facility with purpose built offices and warehousing employing over 100 people.
In 1988 Firths branched out and started selling patio doors, garage doors and internal doors. Such was the success of these new products the company further expanded in to composite doors, both steel or GRP faced. Again sales grew steadily year on year, reaching record levels in 2019. To keep pace with demand it was clear that a significant investment in new machinery would be needed and it fell to commercial director Robin Firth, operations manager Nigel Robinson and production manger Mark Pickets to research the market for suitable equipment. Nigel Robinson comments "The easiest thing for us to do was to install another CNC rail and pod machine. We already have 3 machines and they can do what we need up to a point, but in order to reach the required output levels we needed to move in another direction". As a result Nigel contacted JJ Smith who had already supplied Firths with machines for door and frame production which had served them very well. A site meeting was set up with Paul Parker who carefully reviewed what was needed and talk through the options with Robin, Nigel and Mark. It soon became clear that the machine that ticked all the boxes was an Essepigi model Doormatic CNC Thru Feed machine. A detailed quote was put together for a double sided Doormatic equipped with automatic infeed and outfeed, two horizontal routing spindles for face plate and lock case machining (to suit Winkhaus locks), and on the opposite side two horizontal routing spindles for hinge recessing and spot drilling for the screw holes. Also specified were two vertical electro-spindles for cutting out vision panel apertures, letter box slots and drilling for the spy hole and lock bolt.
The main advantage the Essepigi Doormatic has over standard CNC routers is that all operations are working simultaneously which obviously significantly speeds the process up. With the automatic infeed and outfeed system, a door is ready to be loaded whilst a door is being machined and a finished door is on the outfeed ready for unloading, without any downtime ! After attending an on site demonstration in the UK at another company processing fire doors, and using boomerang system for one man loading / unloading, an order was placed.
The Doormatic was delivered and installed on schedule and it has now been in operation for over 3 months. Mark Pickets comments "Production wise it is exactly what was promised and what we had hoped for. We can normally process approximately 40 doors on each of our existing twin bed CNC machines. With the new Essepigi we can now process between 100 and 120 doors per shift depending on the complexity of the machining operations. In addition the actual programming is much simpler and quicker to follow thanks to the pre-installed macro templates". Robin Firth concludes "We are extremely happy with the Doormatic which was expertly installed by the JJ Smith technicians. It has given us the additional capacity we needed to help ensure prompt on time deliveries to our customers which is crucial to us".