FIELD NOTES: semi automatic circular cold saw
- August 24, 2018
If accuracy is paramount in industrial measurement, it’s even more critical when you build the instruments that do the measuring. Just ask RST Instruments of Maple Ridge, BC, which builds precision instrumentation, including inclinometers, piezometers, load cells and other instruments used in engineering, mining, utilities, infrastructure projects and more.
The work is highly varied, says machine shop manager Peter Pichler. “One year we could build 3,000 of a particular component, and the next year we only do 400. Or we’ll build a single very large load cell with high capacity for one customer, and then the next one wants 1,000 in-place inclinometers [IPIs]. It’s all over the board.”
About four months ago, RST added a Scotchman CPO 350 NF PKPD semi automatic circular cold saw. The new unit is used in a number of applications, but the product RST really needed it for was the in-place inclinometer, which is used to measure inclines and soil movement.
As Pichler explains, the device’s multiple measuring heads are fixed in place inside a casing within the borehole. To ensure accuracy, the heads are separated within the casing by precisely measured distances. It was the cutting of the spacer rods that perform this function that RST wanted to optimize.
It wasn’t that RST didn’t know how to do it already. The company’s highly skilled machinists were adept at delivering the goods to specifications. But management wanted to automate the process as much as possible, to increase production speed and free up skilled labour for more complex tasks.
RST purchased the CPO 350 through ECCO Machinery, which is based in Surrey BC. ECCO contributed a couple of technicians to help with the final stages of setup, but most of the process was straightforward enough to be completed by RST itself, including the bolting on of a RazorGage Android xT-ECO automated stop gauge.
The Scotchman CPO 350 is available in a number of different cutting speed configurations. It is capable of handling tubing up to 4 ½ in. in diameter at a 90° angle and 4 in. at a 45° angle. Standard features include an air operated power double self-centring vise, which produces burr-free cuts, a critical requirement for the spacer bars.
“The unsung hero is the RazorGage we got with the saw,” Pichler says. “It consists of a large extruded aluminum beam that houses a servo driven pulley, and it’ll give you a stop that runs off the beam.” The xT-ECO features a 7 in. android tablet with fraction keys and infinite preset hot keys, as well as a work order screen where users can create and save cut lists.
The gauge’s tolerance is plus/minus 8 thousandths over 12 ft, but Pichler was able to get repeatable results within a couple of thousandths. In addition, the time to cut a component with repeatable accuracy has been cut in half, and the job doesn’t require a skilled machinist.
“I’ve regained skilled labour that’s not spending time on what has become a simple data entry task,” Pichler says. “I can have an apprentice or a labourer run the saw and get the accurate parts – in half the time it took before.” SMT