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Shorter Cutting Times Even When Cutting Tougher Alloys

Shorter Cutting Times Even When Cutting Tougher Alloys

In light an increasing number of high-volume orders, a metal handler in the oil and gas industry decided to build a new facility to expand its capacity–and to broaden its sawing technology with the help of KASTO. 

After experiencing several difficult years, the oil and gas industry is now on the upswing again. The Howat Group also benefits from this development: Located in Barnsley in the UK, the company is a supplier of special metals for this demanding industry. The product range comprises various nickel and aluminium alloys as well as numerous steel and stainless steels. The materials are used, for example, on offshore drilling platforms or in pipeline construction – at sites where they are exposed to extreme temperatures, high pressure, and heavy corrosion.

The Howat Group opened its new facility in Dearne Valley at the end of 2018. This facility provides 60,000 square metres of space, among other things, for a large sawing plant: A total of 14 automatic saws from the German manufacturer KASTO ensure fast and accurate cuts. Some of which have been in service since the 1990s and still cut as accurately as they did when first used.

Expanding Sawing Technology

To cope with an increasing number of high-volume orders, in the course of constructing the new facility, the company also decided to expand its sawing technology. Some of the existing models were retrofitted to update them to the current technology. In addition, the company invested in the KASTOwin pro AC 5.6, which is a high-performance bandsaw optimised for the use with bimetallic and carbide blades. Therefore, it is suitable to cut alloys such as tough nickel, titanium and stainless steel with diameters of up to 560 millimetres as well as for cutting low-alloy steels.

Howat’s operations director Emma Parkinson commented, “We have four dedicated carbide cutting bandsaws on site which include KASTOtec AC5s and now the KASTOwin pro, which is even more economical. They are ideal for cutting our Inconel materials.”

Particularly for the processing of these nickel alloys, the company wanted to become more efficient and therefore decided to acquire this new machine. Parkinson explains the decision, “I am quite familiar with the benefits of the KASTO saws since I have worked with this manufacturer during my previous employment.”

Easy Blade Change Saves Tool Costs

The remainder of the sawing plant, which comprises sawing with a cutting range of up to 800 millimetres, is intended mainly for the operation using bimetal blades – however, now and then carbide blades are used as well. 

“The advantage of the KASTOwin pro is that we can use either type of blade economically,” explained Parkinson. “Whenever the material to be cut permits, we change to bimetal to extend the life of the expensive carbide blades.” Changing the blades is quick and easy – and since Howat frequently produces large batch sizes, the time spent on processing is virtually no concern.

Furthermore, KASTOwin pro excels with its high productivity.  Depending on the type of blade, cutting times can be reduced by 50 percent and more. A frequency-controlled eleven kW motor drive provides plenty of capacity for the use of carbide blades. The cutting speed is infinitely adjustable from twelve to 150 metres per minute. The electro-mechanical feed system can be controlled using two ball screw spindles, each with a servo drive for precise, infinitely variable control. This system provides exact results and minimises material waste. The saw features a retraction unit for lifting the blade from the material when the saw head moves back to protect the cutting surface and the bandsaw blade. This minimises tool wear.

 

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Fully Automated Material Flow

Fully Automated Material Flow

A look at how a steel company was able to press ahead with automation and enable unmanned operation in its facility. Article by KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG.

Steel is one of the most frequently used materials in industry. Examples are power generation, automotive manufacturing, food production and construction. It is also applied in many different ways and different forms because, as we know, steel is not just steel. Today more than 2,500 standard grades of steel are in use throughout the world, from simple construction steel to special high-quality alloys. These, in turn, are available in a wide range of dimensions and geometries. All of these factors make the steel trade very challenging. Companies that want to succeed in the increasingly competitive international environment must be able to supply their customers at all times with the materials they need, cut to their requirements.

This situation is all too familiar to Weser Stahl. The company has specialised for many years in the sale of hot-rolled and forged steel bars, steel tubes and bright steel. It is part of Westfälische Stahlgesellschaft, an owner-managed group of companies with four locations in Germany. Steel distribution, production of bright steel and material testing are combined here under one roof. Weser Stahl delivers mainly to customers in northern Germany and Scandinavia. The group as a whole sells some 250,000 tonnes of material each year, and Weser Stahl accounts for about 30,000 tonnes.

Increasing Numbers of Orders and Declining Batch Sizes

A large percentage of the company’s products are partially finished. More than half of the items shipped from the storage and production facilities in Stuhr have already been cut to size. The figure is rising, as Dr. Markus Krummenerl, Managing Director of Weser Stahl, points out, “Our customers are outsourcing more and more machining steps in order to save capacity. For this reason we’ve been continually expanding our portfolio in this area in order to fulfil as many of their wishes as possible.”

But this has also led to increasing customisation. “Our order numbers have been rising, while batch sizes have been shrinking. This of course poses a big challenge to us in manufacturing and logistics,” he says.

Weser Stahl relies on state-of-the-art machinery and equipment to meet this challenge. It has a number of band saws and circular saws for cutting various materials to size. These have been supplied for many years by KASTO, a group of companies based in the southern German town of Achern and known for its high-quality, high-performance machines.

“We appreciate KASTO’s ability to provide solutions even when we have special requirements,” says Krummenerl. This is why Weser Stahl also turned to the saw and storage equipment manufacturer when it decided to launch another ambitious project.

Unattended Operation Reduces the Burden on Employees

The goal was to automate the provisioning of the saws so that they could run largely unattended, enabling Weser Stahl to handle the increasing numbers of orders and meet the growing customer demand for partially finished products.

“Another important aspect for us was work safety,” adds Krummenerl. “We wanted to make our employees’ work environment more ergonomic and their daily tasks easier, in this way preventing accidents and injuries.”

Previously, material had been conveyed to the saws by an indoor crane—a laborious and not entirely hazard-free process involving bars and tubes weighing a tonne or more. “We therefore went to KASTO and asked them to suggest some solutions,” he says.

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A Strong Partner For Every Sawing Task

A Strong Partner for Every Sawing Task

Metal Cutting Service relies on the KASTOwin for cutting demanding materials such as aluminium and titanium. Article by KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG.

Thanks to the new saws, MCS significantly increased its productivity and the quality of the sawn parts.

‘From a two-man company to a much sought-after service provider for industry and trade.’ This summarizes the success story of the California company Metal Cutting Service (MCS). In 1956, Milon Viel and his father-in-law, Ross Clarke, founded the company, which initially focused on the development and manufacture of aluminium window frames. Both men brought their aviation industry experience to the new company—and that would pay off later. MCS decided to specialize in cutting various materials exactly to customer specifications, especially for companies that did not have their own sawing capabilities, and this decision laid the foundation for the successful development of the company.

Today, MCS is a partner and supplier for many well-known manufacturers in the aerospace, defence, aluminium and steel distribution and semiconductor industries. The customers supply the materials to be cut, and they get them back exactly to their ordered specifications. Complex geometries and large dimensions are an MCS specialty: the company saws plate, bar, forging, and extrusions up to 50 inches (1,270 mm) thick and 700 inches (17,780 mm) long. The spectrum of materials ranges from plastics and acrylic materials to steel and special metals that are highly temperature-resistant.

Growing Demands – Also on Sawing Technology

The company has been based in the City of Industry, a suburb of Los Angeles, since 1975. Owner and president David Viel joined his father in 1977 and worked through college, coming on full time in 1981. David became president in 1993 when his father took semi-retirement to have more time for his hobbies. David’s expertise and industry knowledge first led him to research and purchase the first Kasto saw for MCS. But he was not alone in his desire to look for a new machine tool supplier.

“In the past, we mainly worked with multipurpose saws, so every machine basically did every job,” recalls plant manager Curt Steen, who has been with MCS since 1996. “As the requirements of our customers and the variety of their orders increased, however, we had to become more technically specialized, so we purchased different types of saws for the wide range of tasks we had to tackle.”

Steen also made a significant contribution to this development, since he worked with KASTO saws earlier in his career and greatly appreciated their performance. At MCS, he now played a decisive role in driving technological progress, relying on the machines of KASTO. In 2004, the company invested in the first KASTO saw, a KASTObloc U 5 log bandsaw. Five additional saws have been added since then. The latest additions to the MCS KASTO family are three bandsaws from the versatile KASTOwin line with cutting ranges of 18 and 22 inches (460 and 560 mm).

The KASTOwin line is designed for the serial and production sawing of solid materials, pipes and sections. With their broad range of standard equipment, these machines are suitable for a variety of tasks, and thanks to their sturdy construction, the saws are strong enough for their tough working life at MCS.

“We work up to six days a week, all year round in two shifts—and we have to process large and heavy parts,” says Steen. “So, I definitely say we are not known for being easy on our machines!”

The saws must also be suitable for operation with carbide blades to ensure a high level of productivity—and the KASTOwin also meets this requirement.

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KASTO: The Intuitive Way To The Right Storage Space

KASTO: The Intuitive Way To The Right Storage Space

KASTO Maschinenbau has equipped its UNITOWER storage system with a practical new feature. The automatic bar stock and sheet metal storage system is available with an integrated pick-by-light function. Using this solution, the operator is intuitively guided to the required item by means of a light beam. In this way, users can save a significant amount of time in the storage system and avoid mistakes.

The pick-by-light function is particularly helpful in storage systems in which the pallets or cassettes are subdivided into multiple storage compartments. It is integrated in the KASTO storage system’s controller, which tells it which article needs to be stored or retrieved for the relevant job. After the load carrier has been moved to the station, a light dot is projected onto the field of the pallet or cassette where the article can be found. The operator recognises the correct compartment at a glance and is able to store or retrieve the item without error. This saves time and prevents mistakes resulting from incorrect assignments.

The KASTO UNITOWER is available in two different variants: as a version for the storage of long workpieces or for sheet metal, flat products and containers. Cassettes, pallets or supporting frames are used as the load carriers. Depending on the design, each storage space can carry loads of up to five tonnes. The towers accept bar stock from 3,400 to 14,600 mm in length, thus allowing users to access different standard lengths as well as workpiece- or production-optimised special lengths.

The basic version of the UNITOWER has a usable width between 600 and 1,240 mm. This enables the storage system to be ideally matched to the available space. The UNITOWER B model for storing sheet metal and flat products enables lengths between 2,000 and 8,000 mm to be stored. The usable width is between 1,000 and 2,000 mm.

System heights of up to 20 metres can be easily achieved with both variants. With their variable loading height, tower storage systems provide a flexible solution which saves significantly more space and is therefore more economical compared with conventional floor and cantilever arm storage systems. The UNITOWER storage systems are also characterised by their high level of efficiency. The load carriers are handled by a storage and retrieval machine (SRM) with a central crossbeam. Compared with paternoster systems, for example, this has the advantage that it is not necessary to move the entire stock, but only the relevant cassette. Together with the superbly efficient drives, this ensures fast access times and saves energy. KASTO’s advanced conveyor systems and processing machines can also be used to connect storage and retrieval stations fully automatically, ensuring a highly efficient and smooth internal material flow.

 

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KASTO Takes Logistics For The Steel Trade To New Heights

KASTO Takes Logistics for the Steel Trade to New Heights

Ever-shorter delivery times and fluctuating batch sizes prompted the multi-metal distributor Debrunner Acifer in Birsfelden, Switzerland, to put its logistics processes to the test. The company decided to optimise its storage technology to ensure a high level of supply readiness—and chose KASTO as its project partner. Thanks to the UNICOMPACT 3.0 long goods storage system created by the specialist company from Achern in Germany’s Baden-Wuerttemberg, Debrunner now achieves significant process advantages and ensures that material is made available quickly and reliably.

Debrunner’s distribution centre in Birsfelden in the canton of Basel is Switzerland’s largest logistics centre for multi-metal products. Built in 1953, the site has grown over time and the Birsfelden factory already had two high-bay storage facilities in recent years. A wide range of steel and metals including beams, bright and bar steel, pipes, hollow sections and flat products is stored on a total area of 60,000 square metres. Debrunner supplies its regional companies and end customers from Birsfelden. The company also offers various processing and logistics services, such as material processing exactly to customer specifications.

From the steel trader’s point of view, however, the situation was no longer satisfactory. “Maintaining the two existing storage facilities – each with 1,100 cassettes and two shifts – was extremely cost-intensive,” says site manager Roger Durand. “We had to maintain two separate infrastructures in parallel and the large number of storage and retrieval stations was also disadvantageous transport logistics-wise. Although we’ve continuously optimised our processes in recent years, we could no longer achieve decisive increases in productivity. After 28 years of intensive use, both plants had reached their limits,” says Durand. Debrunner decided to invest in a new, automated high-bay storage facility for long goods. The project targeted the further strengthening of the Birsfelden site as a competence centre for goods handling and processing, saving on transport routes and expanding central services.

A High Level of Plant Security

Debrunner’s requirements were clearly defined: modern high-bay storage technology had to increase plant security and avoid downtimes. “We also wanted an efficient material flow concept to improve productivity in the customer-specific cutting of materials,” summarises Roger Durand. A request for proposals was then sent out and several were received. These proposals were the subject of intensive discussions, after which the decision makers in the company finally decided on the KASTO variant. KASTO’s offer convinced them with its optimal cost-use calculation, a good connection possibility for central processing and a suitable material flow solution including fast loading on to trucks. “If required, we can also expand the storage facility flexibly without a great deal of effort – and this was an important factor for us,” adds Durand.

UNICOMPACT for Fast Item Recovery Times

KASTO targeted very fast item recovery times during the development of the UNICOMPACT storage system. The honeycomb long goods storage system optimises the requirements for expensive storage space: thanks to the small approach dimensions of the storage and retrieval machine, users can get the best possible use out of the available space. UNICOMPACT works according to the “goods-to-the-person” principle – the requested goods are automatically made available at the output stations. The KASTO travelling cassette principle ensures that storage and retrieval operations take place in parallel and guarantees the most economic number of travel movements. Fast drives and simultaneous cassette-pulling devices enable the material to be ready at the processing stations within 60 seconds.

KASTO offers the long goods storage facility for heights up to 26 metres and up to eight tons of payload. Storage volume is between 500 and 10,000 cassettes with lengths of three to 14 metres. Debrunner now stores material up to seven metres in length on its Birsfelden site. A total of 2,936 storage slots are available. The 20 metre-high and 40 metre-long storage system is designed in silo form and equipped with one storage and four retrieval stations, as well as seven crane systems for the removal of the required articles. The storage and retrieval machine works with a maximum payload of three tons. The cassette dimensions are 620 x 350 mm and 620 x 600 mm—each cassette can hold material weighing up to three tons.

More Productivity Achieved

The decision to opt for the UNICOMPACT 3.0 has really paid off for Debrunner. The new high-bay storage technology delivers the material reliably to the sawing stations where it’s needed. “Now we can already request cassettes for follow-up orders. Response times are considerably reduced and there are no system-related waiting times,” says a delighted Roger Durand. The storage of buffer quantities eliminates the need for time-consuming replenishment processes. Debrunner also achieves greater productivity through the system’s central processing, which enables the operation of multiple machines. Sawing orders from different customers can now be combined if the same materials are involved. Thanks to centralisation, the Swiss company is now saving two saws compared to the past.

Improved ergonomics at the workplace also ensure efficient processes. All the saws are optimally connected to the storage facility. They have a feedback terminal, a KASTO picking device with a magnetic system for easier feeding to the stations and the possibility of efficiently transferring finished positions. “Thanks to this tightly-knit organisation, the saw operators can concentrate on processing,” says Durand. The new truck loading concept is based on an effective logistics solution using shuttle wagons. This avoids search times and concentrates finished customer orders from picking and processing at just one loading point.

Seamless Connection to the ERP System

The KASTO experts also seamlessly linked the control of the storage facility to Debrunner’s existing ERP system—yet another advantage that the steel trader appreciates: “Our industry is in the midst of digital transformation—so it’s important that our processes not only interact optimally on the hardware side, but also on the software level,” says Durand. The uniform control system ensures smooth processes, maximum transparency and ease of operation. It also means that Debrunner only has one contact person for all questions concerning storage technology. “That was another reason why we chose KASTO,” emphasises Durand.

Since June 2018, the new high-bay storage facility has been in use instead of the two previous solutions—and thanks to the KASTO system, Debrunner has now achieved its optimisation goals. “Now that we have the UNICOMPACT, we’re well prepared for future challenges involving the economic storage of long goods,” explains Roger Durand. “Our downtimes are extremely low—and this ensures reliable and smooth operation. The fast and optimally-coordinated processes in our new system have given us short reaction times to supply our customers, even with decreasing batch sizes and increasing order numbers.”

 

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KASTO Enable Meticulous Sawing Of Additively-manufactured Components

KASTO Enable Meticulous Sawing Of Additively-manufactured Components

KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG will be showcasing a high-performance automatic band saw especially designed to handle individual cuts of additively-produced components—the KASTOwin amc—at Formnext, the international trade fair for additive manufacturing technologies and their upstream and downstream processes. Formnext will be held from November 19–22 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Specially designed for separating additively-manufactured components from their base plates, the KASTOwin amc is equipped with a turning device that can rotate workpieces by 180°. The parts are machined upside down—a much safer process because they cannot overturn or buckle after cutting; the parts simply fall into the intended container without being damaged. The base plate can be easily placed on the device with a crane or handling device and screwed on manually.

The KASTOwin amc is fully enclosed to prevent the ambient air from becoming contaminated with tiny particles, which are detrimental to health and may arise during the machining of additively manufactured components. The machine is prepared for the connection of an extraction system and it also provides easy access for material supply and removal. The safety doors can be opened for loading and unloading of the base plate. The user enters the thickness of the baseplate via the standard SmartControl controller and the saw then automatically saws the parts to the corresponding dimensions. The cutting range of the KASTOwin amc is standard at 400 x 400mm, but an optional version with a cutting range of 500 x 400mm is also available. The KASTOwin amc can be monitored by remote control for easy troubleshooting and the optimisation of processes.

With its innovative sawing concept, KASTO is also part of the NextGenAM project, which is aimed at automating additive manufacturing in industrial environments. The initiators are the aerospace supplier Premium AEROTEC, the vehicle manufacturer Daimler and the technology provider EOS. The project is aimed at the development of a complete system to produce aluminium components for the automotive and aerospace industries. Within the framework of this project, the KASTOwin amc is used in the Technology Centre in Varel (TZV), where the first automated pilot plant for industrial 3D printing and post-processing has been commissioned.

KASTO will be at Booth 120 – E51E at Formnext.

 

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KASTO To Showcase Sawing, Storage Technology Innovations At EMO 2019

KASTO To Showcase Sawing, Storage Technology Innovations At EMO 2019

Sawing and storage technology specialist KASTO will be presenting a wide range of innovations at the EMO 2019, which will be held September 16–21 in Hanover, Germany. KASTO’s booth (E54 in Hall 15) will feature an efficient energy recovery and storage concept for automated storage systems, plus new sawing machines for every requirement, ranging from the KASTOmicut workshop bandsaw and the versatile series KASTOwin/miwin to the KASTOvariospeed and KASTOtec high-performance production saws. Digital solutions will also be on show live in the booth’s Smart Solutions Corner.

On request, KASTO can offer its automated storage systems with energy recovery and integrated energy storage. Surplus kinetic energy—such as that produced when braking the storage and retrieval machine or lowering lifting gear—can be converted into electricity, fed back into the grid and used flexibly. This solution not only reduces energy costs but also improves the quality of the power supply, since energy is continuously drawn from the supply, which in turn avoids load peaks. Operators can also often plan for and use smaller transformer stations, massively reducing investment costs. Existing KASTO storage systems can also be retrofitted with energy recovery and storage. KASTO will be demonstrating the energy concept at the EMO using a UNITOWER tower storage system.

Another booth highlight will be the “Smart Solutions Corner”, where KASTO will be presenting its digitalisation and Industry 4.0 developments. Just one of many products, the KASTOlogic warehouse management system not only enables the continuous administration and control of automated storage systems, it also manages the mobile inventories of manual warehouse areas. The KASTOapp machine status display, the KASTOoptisaw saw plan generation system and the interactive remote maintenance solution, KASTO VisualAssistance will also be showcased at the trade fair. A video will show visitors how storage, sawing and material handling processes can be completely automated and optimised with KASTO solutions—all from one single source.

KASTO Expands Range of Saws

The KASTOmiwin is a double mitre bandsaw for cut-to-length and mitre cuts between -45 deg and 60 deg. It is available in semi-automated or fully automated versions and is especially designed for parts cut to size in steel construction, steel trade, plant construction, and special machine construction. KASTO also offers the KASTOmicut series of swing-frame bandsaws. Available in two sizes, these saws are especially designed for use in workshops. Users can choose different cutting ranges and manually operated, semi-automated or fully automated versions.

The universal bandsaw series KASTOwin will also be exhibited at the EMO. Designed for the serial and production sawing of solid materials, pipes and sections, KASTOwin offers a flexible solution for a wide range of applications. For particularly heavy workpieces, the KASTOwin is also available with a movable material support table. Another product in display is the production circular saw KASTOvariospeed, an all-rounder for steel processing. This CNC-controlled sawing machine can process different materials flexibly and is ideal for unmanned operation, especially in combination with a KASTOcenter sawing centre. KASTO will also debut its KASTOvariospeed C18 and showcase the extensively revised the automated bandsaw KASTOtec at EMO 2019.

 

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Increasing Integration Of Storage And Sawing Technology

Increasing Integration Of Storage And Sawing Technology

Automation, networking and robotics are rapidly gaining ground in metalworking—especially in storage and sawing technology. Storage systems and sawing machines are increasingly being integrated into a uniformly controlled material flow in which all processes between incoming and outgoing goods are fully automated – from the storage of the long goods raw material to the dispatch of the palletised finished parts. This enables users to make their production processes much more flexible and efficient, improve working conditions and significantly reduce operating costs.

Whether they are in the steel trade, the automotive and supplier industry or in mechanical and plant engineering, metalworking companies across all industries have been facing increasing demands for years. Customers expect ever greater production flexibility, from batch size one to mass production. The variety of materials and sizes is steadily increasing. At the same time, quality standards are rising and there is continuous pressure to cut costs. To hold their own against international competitors, companies need versatile and efficient solutions for a wide variety of production tasks.

More and more users are relying on the automation and intelligent networking of individual workflows in production and logistics. This begins with the storage of the delivered raw material—instead of the previously widespread floor or cantilever storage, companies are increasingly relying on fully automatic long goods storage systems. These automated software-controlled systems have completely convinced users with their significantly higher storage density, fast access times and maximum stock transparency.

Cassettes are usually used as load handling devices for the storage of long goods. A storage and retrieval machine automatically transports these to one or more transfer stations in line with the “goods to the next process” principle. These can be designed differently for the respective requirements, as fixed stations, for example, or in movable form as longitudinal or transverse transfer carriages. Automatic storage and retrieval is not only much faster than by hand, it also protects employees from accidents and injuries as the heavy and bulky goods do not have to be moved manually. Orders are processed at the push of a button via the warehouse control system – or directly via a higher-level ERP system to which the control system is connected via an interface.

The sawing of the articles removed from storage is often the first step in processing or manufacturing. Here too, all processes are increasingly organised without any human participation. The modern KASTO sawing machines can be seamlessly connected to the raw material warehouse by means of manipulators and conveyor technology and are supplied with the required materials. Depending on how it is equipped, the sawing machine can also run by itself. Material is fed to it automatically, and an intelligent machine control system sets all parameters, such as cutting length and cutting speed, based on the job data. State-of-the-art production saws can thus carry out a variety of jobs in succession with different materials and diameters, and operate autonomously for long periods.

Industrial robots also have considerable potential when it comes to handling and processing finished cut parts. Depending on the production cycle, for example they can remove the sawn parts from the machine at maximum speed, so employees no longer have to carry out this repetitive task. In addition, the robots can be used with the appropriate tools to add value for deburring, chamfering, marking, centring, cleaning or measuring and testing the workpieces. The sections can be weighed, sorted by sise or order, and stacked on pallets or in tightly packed containers. For complex processes with different work steps, combinations of several robots and clamping devices can also be realised with KASTO systems. Further connection to driverless transport systems (AGVs) is also common practice nowadays.

Downstream processes are relatively easy to automate with volume saws that process only a few different component geometries. The situation is somewhat different with individualised job saws, however; they have to flexibly process numerous materials and dimensions, and the greater the diversity, the more challenging it is to fully handle all the tasks. For example, the optimal selection of robot tools is important, because the robot should be able to manipulate all the objects to be handled with as few aids as possible. This reduces procurement costs, minimises idle times and increases productivity. Users can choose from mechanical, magnetic or vacuum-driven grippers. The grippers should be as compact as possible to give the robot easy access to the cut parts. KASTO supports users in defining the optimal tools for the upcoming tasks. In regular operation, the robot then independently decides which tool is best suited for the current task. The decision criteria may be the accessibility of the workpiece or the optimisation of the stacking pattern.

Industry 4.0 in Storage and Sawing Technology

With the right components, storage, sawing, automation and robotics technologies can be combined to form decentralised and highly integrated systems that are seamlessly integrated into one continuous material flow. The manufacturer KASTO realises combined storage-sawing-robot systems for its customers, in which all storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes run fully automatically, from the storage of the raw materials to the picking of the sections. The big advantage here is that the entire system functions with a uniform control software, which can be connected to existing ERP systems such as SAP with only one interface. This significantly increases transparency and efficiency. With additional production machines, such as for turning or milling, the storage, sawing and robotic systems can be linked to form a fully digitalised and automatic production system that organises itself decentrally and independently, in line with industry 4.0.

Automation and robotic support offer significant advantages for the user, who can significantly increase productivity with less personnel, since many processes are not only unmanned, but also run much faster. It is easier to compensate for staff absences due to illness, and production simply continues even during breaks or after shifts. The result is lower personnel costs and a high degree of flexibility in terms of capacity utilisation. For example, companies can process order peaks much better and drastically reduce non-productive times. This also quickly becomes noticeable from a profitability point of view.

Working conditions are also improved by the automated technology, because employees are relieved of heavy, tiring and monotonous work, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. The quality of the sawn sections is also enhanced, because the robot processes all the parts uniformly and precisely, sorts them reliably and stacks them cleanly. This ultimately benefits not only the plant operators, but also their customers.

 

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How Industrial Robots Increase Sawing Productivity

How Industrial Robots Increase Sawing Productivity

More and more metalworking companies are now relying on integrated automation in their production. And the same thing is happening when it comes to sawing technology. Article by KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG.

More and more metalworking companies are now relying on integrated automation in their production. And the same thing is happening when it comes to sawing technology. The use of industrial robots offers great potential for handling the sawn sections: The mechanical helpers can take on numerous tasks, from picking to deburring, weighing, centring and marking to sorting and stacking. This provides more flexibility and performance in production, better working conditions and significantly lower operating costs.

Across all sectors, the demands placed on metalworking companies are steadily increasing: They must have a high production flexibility from batch size one to large-scale production, process more and more different materials and dimensions—in excellent quality and at the lowest possible cost. Those who want to be permanently successful in the ever tougher international competition must organise all their production processes in a variable and efficient, but also efficient way.

Countless Uses for Robots

Sawing technology plays a key role in metal processing and offers many opportunities for optimisation. More and more operators of sawing systems are intelligently linking their work processes and automating them with robot support. The benefits are obvious: Industrial robots are fast, reliable and precise, and if necessary, they can work 24 hours a day without human intervention. They don’t get tired or fall ill, and they can handle a wide range of tasks when equipped with the necessary tools. “Our robots help us with a number of handling and conveying tasks and efficiently perform many machining steps,” says Volker Bühler, group manager for robotics at the sawing and storage technology specialist KASTO.

Automation starts right with material feeding. The material to be cut is conveyed to the machine by means of suitable equipment, for example roller conveyors or magazines, thus sparing workers the effort of lifting and carrying, and reducing the risk of injuries. Depending on how it is equipped, the sawing machine itself can also run attended. Material is fed to it automatically, and an intelligent machine control system sets all parameters, such as cutting length and cutting speed, based on the job data. State-of-the-art production saws can thus carry out a variety of jobs in sequence, with different materials and diameters, and operate autonomously for long periods.

Removal, Machining, Stacking—Automatic from Start to Finish

Industrial robots also have considerable potential when it comes to handling and processing finished cut parts. For example, they can remove them from the machine, thus relieving workers of this repetitive task. When equipped with appropriate tools, robots can also perform tasks like deburring, chamfering, marking, centring or measuring workpieces. Cut parts can be weighed, sorted by size or job, and stacked on pallets or placed in containers. The parts can also be transferred directly to a driverless transport system. “For complex processes involving various work steps, we also use combinations of different robots and clamping devices,” explains Bühler.

When large quantities of material are sawed with only a few different component geometries, it is relatively easy to automate the downstream processes. The situation is different with custom sawing involving diverse materials and dimensions.

“The greater the variety, the harder it is to cover all the possibilities,” says Bühler. The choice of robot tools is an important factor. A robot must be able to deal with all the objects it encounters while using as few aids as possible. This reduces procurement costs, minimises idle times and increases productivity. Users have a choice of mechanical, magnetic or vacuum-operated grippers. The grippers should be as compact as possible to give the robot easy access to the cut parts.

Sawing Technology on Course to Industry 4.0

With the help of the right components, sawing can be combined with other automated operations to create complex, highly integrated systems that are seamlessly connected in a continuous material flow. This includes upstream storage as well as downstream handling and processing. For example, KASTO implements combined storage and sawing systems for its customers in which all storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are completely automated—from storage of the raw material to retrieval of the cut parts. The control software can be linked to existing ERP systems like SAP for greater transparency and efficiency. Sawing can be integrated with other processes like turning or milling in digitised, self-configured production systems such as envisioned in Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative.

Automated sawing technology offers significant advantages to users. Many processes can run unattended and much faster, which increases productivity and reduces the need for personnel. It is easier to make up the difference when employees are ill, and robots can keep working even during breaks or after shifts. The result is lower personnel costs and greater flexibility in terms of capacity utilisation.

Companies can react more easily to order peaks and dramatically reduce idle times. This can make a big difference economically.

“We’ve calculated that, depending on the shift model, an investment in an industrial robot with a machine like our KASTOvariospeed saw pays for itself in less than a year,” says Bühler. “When you consider that systems like this are used for more than ten years on average, users can reduce their operating costs for a very long time.”

Benefits for Both Users and Customers

Robot technology also helps to improve working conditions. It relieves employees of heavy, tiring and monotonous tasks. The risk of accidents and injuries is reduced. Moreover, the cut parts are of better quality, because robots machine them with equal precision, sort them reliably and stack them neatly. This provides benefits not only for operators of automatic sawing facilities, but also for their customers.

 

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Increasing Automation, Connectivity And Energy Efficiency In Metal Cutting

Increasing Automation, Connectivity And Energy Efficiency In Metal Cutting

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Armin Stolzer, Owner & CEO of KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG regarding current trends in the metal cutting industry.

APMEN: What trends are shaping the metal cutting industry?

The current favourable situation in widespread parts of the global economy and in the metalworking sector is leading to many companies increasing their production output. However, for the most part, additional capacity is usually necessary to enable the larger number of orders to be processed on time. More and more users are therefore deciding to automate processes, including in the sawing and storage technology sector. This offers considerable potential and, at the same time, the necessary flexibility to be able to respond to changing requirements.

 

APMEN: How are you helping your customers keep up with these trends?

We help companies to achieve significant improvements in production efficiency while at the same time reducing their costs – two outcomes which in today’s economically challenging climate are in especially great demand. Our sawing machines and storage systems can be easily integrated into a digitalised and automated material flow. We also offer combined sawing and storage systems in which all the storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are performed fully automatically with the help of industrial robots – from putting the raw material into store through to the picking of the cut parts. With our customised complete systems, metal-processing companies can fully utilise the potential of their production and logistics facilities.

At the software level we also have innovative solutions that are perfectly adapted to industry needs, for example in the form of our well-designed machine control systems and KASTOlogic Warehouse Management System. With KASTOoptisaw, we have developed a cutting optimisation tool which considers various machine parameters as well as the workload. It generates one or more cutting plans that determine the best item sequences. This results in less waste and as few material movements as possible, saving users both time and money.

 

APMEN: What are the latest technology developments in KASTO’s metal cutting saws and storage systems?

Just recently, we have launched an innovative solution for maintaining our machines and systems remotely: KASTO VisualAssistance. By means of a tablet, smartphone or smart glasses, users can send live videos to KASTO’s service experts and receive visual assistance and information in real time in the event of a fault or maintenance work. Downtimes can be reduced to a minimum, which has a positive effect on the cost balance.

For our automatic bar stock and sheet metal storage systems, we have developed a concept in which excess kinetic energy can be converted into electric current, stored temporarily and then be used flexibly as required. Consumption of electric power can be reduced by as much as 40 percent compared to conventional drive systems and the connected load can even be cut by more than 50 percent. This reduces operating and investment costs and cuts CO2 emissions.

Also, we have comprehensively re-engineered our KASTOtec automatic bandsaws. In doing so, we have clearly focused on the optimum use of carbide metal saw blades. Further innovations relate to the saw feed, the main drive, and a system for automatically adjusting the feed speed. This all contributes to a further increase in sawing performance.

 

APMEN: What sets your solutions apart from competition in the region?

KASTO is the market leader for metal sawing machines, semi-automatic and fully automatic storage systems, as well as automated handling equipment for metal bar stock, sheet metals and parts cut to size. Our portfolio includes high-performance sawing machines that not only enable the user to achieve a supreme cutting quality but also the best cost per cut. Our products feature a high degree of automation and therefore offer the best prerequisites for the megatrends Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things. Besides, we are the only supplier of combined sawing and storage systems and have extensive software know-how. Customers therefore benefit from the full range of equipment for the provisioning, production and distribution of material from a single supplier.

Our products and solutions stand out due to their high level of innovation and ideally fit the requirements of our customers. Top-quality workmanship causes the saws and the storage systems to be particularly rugged and durable. Being a family-owned and -managed company, KASTO stands for quality “Made in Germany”. At the same time, we offer comprehensive and personal service, short response times and expert local advice to all our customers everywhere in the world. In 2015, we opened a subsidiary in Singapore to strengthen our position in the Southeast Asian Market.

 

APMEN: How do you see the metal cutting industry developing in the next year or two?

Connectivity and automation are increasing. Machines, goods, raw materials, load carriers, transport equipment and locations are no longer isolated; they are globally linked and interconnected by means of information networks. Production and logistics are merging, and the integration of processes is increasing. Handling tasks are becoming more and more automated. Digital technology controls the value chain from the producer of raw materials to the final customer. Other important trends include a greater emphasis on safety in materials handling and machine control, which is why we focus in particular on developing effective solutions.

Also, the question of energy efficiency is becoming ever more important. Ultimately, the increased levels of automation mean that users are also taking account of power consumption as a decisive cost factor. The demands placed on machines and systems are therefore not only growing in terms of flexibility, speed and precision, but also at the level of the savings they can bring. To meet these needs, KASTO’s portfolio includes efficient energy recovery and storage methods that allow users to reduce the electricity costs resulting from system operation and, at the same time, to improve the quality of the power supply.

 

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