Instead of the alphorn, the Swiss sheet metalworking machine tool producer has tooted the optimising horn at Euroblech. By Joson Ng
Providing efficiency, productivity and added-value services have always been at the forefront of many sheet metalworking machine tool producers’ minds. While banging on this drum is a popular marketing endeavour, some companies have fallen by the wayside when it comes to producing machines actually capable of delivering on the attractive marketing lines. Some companies on the other hand, have not.
With the theme ‘World Class Manufacturing’ at Euroblech held late in October in Hannover, Germany, the company has showcased a suite of machines and solutions capable of doing what they are claiming in their theme, and they do not work alone. In order to produce something desirable, it makes perfect sense to consult the end-users. This is a mantra held firmly by Johan Elster, head of business unit markets, Bystronic Group.
“When developing our products, we work very closely with our customers from around the world. This generates important impulses. Thanks to this cooperation, we recognise new trends at an early stage and are able to develop products and solutions that are tailored to our customers’ specific needs,” he said.
“We satisfy the growing requirement for productivity, efficiency and added value with our ‘World Class Manufacturing’ program. This program is about offering our customers solutions that enable them to optimise all the process steps relating to cutting and bending.”
Flexible Waterjet Cutting
The two-way dialogue has culminated with some new products in the company’s portfolio. In the waterjet cutting space, the ByJet Flex now comes with a newly developed 3D cutting head — an additional feature that will extend the machine’s spectrum of applications.
The company claims that it will be possible to equip the machine with up to two 3D cutting heads in the future. This will allow users to cut beveled cutting edges with twice the productivity. They also say upgrading from 2D to 3D technology requires less than an hour.
The ByMotion control system plays a big part in making the integration of 3D technology possible. In the case of 3D applications, the control system allows simultaneous five-axis cutting with two cutting heads, employing continuous height sensing on both cutting heads.
Making Deeper Cuts With Fibre Laser
Unlike in consumer electronics, improvements in the sheet metalworking sphere are generally incremental rather than revolutionary. Mr Elster however, is convinced that fibre laser is the technology to take sheet metal cutting into the future. Calling it a “ground-breaking technology”, he said rapid developments have taken place in recent years.
These developments can be seen in the cutting speeds of new generation fibre laser cutting machines. Armed with a 6 kW fibre laser, the BySprint Fibre cuts stainless steel with a thickness of 3 mm three times faster than its CO2 counterpart with the same power rating, said the company. They added that, depending on the material and sheet thickness, this equates to a parts output increase of 300 percent for the user.
In addition to speed, the machine now comes with a useful tool called the Detection Eye, which according to the developer, allows users to automatically measure the loaded metal sheet in seconds, before the cutting process begins. The main takeaway point is reduced set-up times and precise cutting results that extend to the outermost edges of the metal sheet.
Optimise To Monetise
Profitability arguably dominates production floors worldwide, more so than cycle time. With many in the manufacturing environment having to balance cost pressure while maintaining quality, quite a lot of expectations are now placed on machine builders to create mini miracles.
Mr Elster feels that optimisation is a crucial ingredient in today’s cut-throat manufacturing climate. He insists that only companies that get the maximum out of every process step are able to produce profitably. This is something he practises in his own production. He cites lean manufacturing is one philosophy that they adopt to optimise individual production steps.
With ‘optimisation’ being such a buzz word, there is no surprise the company has made a huge play for it at Euroblech. Claiming that their new online service revolutionises laser cutting, the company introduced the ByOptimizer at the show.
According to them, it creates maximally optimised cutting plans for laser cutting. Touting the service as ‘one-of-a-kind’ on the market, the company boldly promised that users can ‘cut parts as accurate and cost-effective as never before’.
Time will tell if the company’s claim holds any water but one thing is for sure, this service is very much the marquee offering for the company and they are adamant that they are on the right track.
“With ByOptimizer, users save raw materials and cutting time. This enables them to make full use of the profit potential of their laser cutting systems,” he said.
Tapping on these so-called potential is important as it would be a travesty not to as modern cutting machines get more powerful. However, power and speed are not necessarily the deciding factor in guaranteeing profitable cutting jobs.
Bystronic says the actual profit margin for cutting sheet metal parts is determined before cutting, interestingly enough. Optimal parts grouping or nesting can save on raw materials and obtain faster cutting times. Up until now, this required a great deal of time and know-how. With the online service, cutting plans can be created quickly.
They claim that in a comparison with traditional cutting plans, ByOptimizer achieves a 15 percent advantage on a standard 2 x 1 m sheet. For example, 60 parts that traditionally require two sheets can be obtained on one, saving materials as well as set-up time, since placing a second sheet is no longer necessary.
In addition, tighter parts grouping enables more efficient cutting paths across the sheet. Shorter laser paths result in faster cutting job processing overall. In comparison to traditional cutting plans, the time savings for one standard sheet of 60 parts is approximately 19 percent, depending on the complexity and material thickness.
|Business In AsiaAPMEN checks in with Alex Waser, CEO of Bystronic Group on the company’s endeavours in Asia.|
APMEN: Has your business in Asia been affected in 2014? What is your business forecast for Asia in 2015?
Alex Waser (AW): We have positive expectations for the future. In Asia, we see growth. Continued growth. In view of this, we have strengthened our team and have set our focus clearly on success.
APMEN: Although Asia’s manufacturing space has vast potential, do you think it has reached a saturation point especially when there are increasing talks of reshoring activities in the UK, or do you feel there is a ‘second wind’ coming?
AW: We believe in Asia’s potential. For us, it represents a very important market. This will remain true in the future.
APMEN: How important is the region of Southeast Asia to Bystronic’s activities in Asia? With China being the de-facto HQ in Asia, do you feel a need to diversify your production and R&D operations in Asia to hedge against any potential downturn in China?
AW: Southeast Asia is also a very important market for Bystronic. Here, we have a strong regional representation with our sales and service offerings. This enables us to be close to our customers and bring our know-how to bear locally. We produce the products for these markets in China and in Europe.
APMEN: BySun Fiber has been very successful in China. Would you be following up with similar products/projects for your Asian markets?
AW: Bystronic will continue to offer products that are specially tailored to the Asian market. We will demonstrate the direction we will be taking in this respect at EuroBlech in Hannover.