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.
This has created immense opportunities for companies, but it has also confronted them with new challenges. Competition is becoming more international and thus more intense. Only by standing out from the crowd and offering customers genuine value can a company stay competitive in the long run. At the same time, expectations in the market are increasing. Customers are demanding more and more different products, and these must be produced in smaller batches. Production must be fast, free of defects, flexible, inexpensive and reliable.
Speed, Versatility, Precision
In the metalworking industry, for example, sawing technology must meet increasingly tough requirements. Machines and tools must not only be fast and versatile, they must also produce cut parts with precise dimensions and surfaces of excellent quality. When the parts are burr-free and reproducibly precise, less work is required for reworking. This raises production efficiency.
Moreover, users want to minimise losses at the start and end of the cut and other kinds of waste in order to make optimum use of the material. For this, high-quality sawing technology tailored to the given requirements is indispensable. When it comes to cutting bar stock in the skilled trades, manufacturing and steel processing, further increases in efficiency and cost-effectiveness can be expected in the future. In each sector, the potential for improvement differs depending on the material, order structure, production volume and personnel costs.
In particular, metal sawing machines for various purposes have been significantly improved through technological progress, with notable increases in cutting performance. Moreover, material handling for sawing has been simplified, with shorter idle times, automation of the material supply and better removal of cut parts.
Automation In Sawing Technology
The Southeast Asian market therefore has a huge demand for innovative and high-quality sawing technology. Efforts are being stepped up in all industries to deploy networking and automation to rationalise production processes.
This is where sawing machine manufacturers can provide users with optimum support. Even the standard versions of many modern sawing machines offer a high level of automation and can be integrated without difficulty into a uniformly controlled materials flow.
This is also true of combined sawing and storage systems in which all the storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are performed fully automatically—from the entry of the raw material through to the commissioning of the cut parts. These tasks are increasingly carried out with the help of industrial robots. The requirements relating to performance, efficiency and flexibility are steadily increasing, and these are areas in which robot technology offers enormous potential.
When it comes to saw blades, carbide tools promise significantly improved performance in the machining of various materials. There have also been enhancements in ergonomics and design, including incorporation of strict safety standards.
An increasing division of tasks is arising between high-volume steel suppliers and manufacturers on the one hand and smaller metal-processing companies and manufacturers on the other. The latter need low-cost, universal sawing solutions to cover a broad range of sawing applications, while high-volume producers are investing in highly automated sawing facilities with the aim of cutting personnel costs and running their machinery for long hours without staff.
Carbide-tipped sawing tools are finding increasing use in high-volume production with band saws and circular saws because they considerably reduce sawing times.
Carbide Tools, Advanced Performance
To take full advantage of the increased performance offered by carbide tools, a machine must be massive, robust and optimised to prevent vibration. Thanks to its excellent damping properties, polymer concrete is often preferred to gray cast iron for this purpose.
Other important requirements include greater drive power with a corresponding drive design, modified cutting edge feed, protection of teeth when the blade is retracted and adequate chip removal. Today’s sawing machines also include advanced components for driving, guidance and sensors. More than in the past, it is now possible to provide low-cost, custom solutions by means of fully enclosed machines based on a modular design. Modern machine control systems make it easy for operators to enter engineering and job data.
Companies that do made-to-order sawing in small and medium-sized quantities are increasingly relying on sawing machines with carbide tools. On the feed side, these machines often have magazines or are connected to a sawing centre, allowing them to run fully unattended for long periods. In addition, the outfeed side is modified to cut back on manual sorting and palletising. Robot solutions are flexibly integrated into the machine design so that cut parts can easily be sorted and other machining steps like deburring, milling or centering can be added.
Lowering Cost Per Cut
From the broad range of modern sawing machines in various performance classes and automation levels, the perfect solution can be found for every application. Significant advances in sawing and tool technology have brought about substantial reductions in production times and idle times. Although the necessary high-end peripheral equipment can be more expensive, when applied under the right conditions it can significantly lower the cost per cut and raise overall productivity.
APMEN Sheet Metalworking, July 2017