Thompsons, which has UK sites in Croydon, Blackburn, Dover and Edinburgh, says that it builds and sells more tipper bodies than all of its competitors combined. Since 2000, the business has expanded five-fold.

“With order volumes rising there is a constant need to keep pace with production and invest in our future,” explains director Neil Griffin. “We recently installed a robotic welding cell, which shifted the bottleneck to bending. In addition, even though our existing press brake offers a capacity of 400 tonnes, we needed more to help us process 4 mm thick Hardox, which is a tough, wear-resistant steel with a hardness of 450 HB.”

Griffin and his team scrutinised three potential bending machine suppliers, but it was Trumpf that impressed the most. The TruBend 8600-80 offers a large open height, throat depth and 600 tonne press force. Trumpf customised the machine with an additional 8 m bending length option.

“After profiling, the side panels of the tipper bodies each require up to 12 bends, which is where the tonnage of the TruBend 8600-80 really comes into its own,” says Griffin. “Having capability of this type in-house is a real market advantage as we don’t have to rely on subcontractors, and thus avoid all the associated costs and lead-time issues that strategy brings. Moreover, all Thompsons’ tipper bodies are manufactured specifically for each customer, who can specify the height, length and width of the tipper bodies they require. As we manufacture in-house, meeting these needs could not be simpler.”

Thompsons manufactures circa 25 Hardox tipper bodies on a weekly basis, which means 50 sides to bend, plus floors and tailgates. The TruBend 8600-80 is currently working a single day shift, but a night shift may soon be required to keep up with demand.

Thompsons also installed a Trumpf TruLaser 3030 laser cutting machine at the same time as the bending machine.