The company had been using dimension and cross-cut saws since its launch. But as time went by, it became apparent that the manual handling issues related to the machines' use were likely to become increasingly significant, so Tony Mills, Operations Supervisor in 3sixtymedia's Scenic Services department, looked into the alternatives.
As a joint venture between ITV and the BBC, the company provides scenery and other resources for television production companies. Over the years Tony and his team have worked on shows including Coronation Street, Jeremy Kyle, A Question of Sport, Cold Blood and Mastermind.
The work involves cutting large quantities of MDF, plywood, blockboard, perspex and acrylic.
The company typically gets through several tonnes of sheet materials each week, and during busy times, cutting throughput can reach 40 sheets per day.
Tony knew that the right tool for the job would be a vertical panel saw.
"Manhandling a large sheet of 30mm MDF onto a table, cross-cut or dimension saw is awkward and potentially dangerous," he observed. "A decent vertical panel saw would make the task much easier, as well as improving general safety and making accurate repeat cuts a far simpler exercise."
The principal problem came in the form of vertical panel saw prices. As Tony noted, "The big name saws are exceedingly expensive. Their prices went well beyond my budget, taking me into capital expenditure, which would have lengthened the purchasing process."
Researching the market led Tony to UK manufacturer Sagetech Industry's Koolkut vertical panel saw range. "Here was a range of saws that competed on specification with the 'big boys' but were priced much more competitively," he said. "Also, as a result of the machines' innovative design, the operating footprint is really very compact indeed. That was important for us as we had a specific space that the new saw had to fit into if we were to avoid major upheaval."
3sixtymedia took delivery of its Sagetech Koolkut KK16 last year. "The installation engineer was great," recalled Tony. "He was in and out very quickly, and set the machine up beautifully square, exactly where we wanted it." Tony had similar praise for other staff at Sagetech, citing their enthusiasm, flexibility and generally helpful attitude.
The Koolkut has put 3sixtymedia in a much stronger position. Fast, accurate cutting of the wide variety of sheet materials used by the company is now significantly easier and safer. Loading even the largest, heaviest sheets onto the machine is a far easier task than is the case with any table saw. Once the sheet is in place, it need not move again until cutting is complete - the Koolkut can cut vertically, horizontally and diagonally, to the full length and breadth of the board.
"The Koolkut's cutting capabilities and vertical operation make meeting health and safety requirements significantly easier," Tony commented. "It's extremely well priced for the quality and capability of the machine, and Sagetech are really good to deal with. I'd recommend it. In fact, I've done so already."
For more details on 3sixtymedia, visit www.the-manchester-studios.tv For more information on Sagetech's range of economically priced, space saving Koolkut vertical panel saws, visit www.sagetech.co.uk or telephone 0118 970 1950.