Click image to enlarge

By Mary Scianna

ABC Metal Fabricators (a fictitious company) set up shop last year with the intention of automating down the road when business picked up. The company purchased a laser cutting machine and hired an operator to load and unload the system.

A few months later the shop was so busy the company set up another shift and hired another operator. Now the shop has two eight-hour shifts running 16 hours a day and business continues to grow. What to do?

“This shop has three choices,” says Keith Leuthold, a 45-year automation veteran in the fabricating industry and the current  director of inside sales for Mazak Optonics, Elgin, IL. “It can add a third shift. Companies that have done that though often have to cut back on hours during slow times and this third shift is weak in productivity. Third shifts often don’t work for many companies. Second choice is to continue running two shifts and buy another machine. But then you have to hire another operator. Third option is to add automation, which is either half or 25 per cent of the cost of another laser and now they can run a third shift unattended and they’re getting more hours out of the existing machines. Essentially they’re getting 88 hours more per week without adding more manpower and without having to buy another machine; that’s a huge benefit.”

Many people don’t often consider another important reason for automating: worker safety, says TRUMPF’s Lukas Baechler, product manager for automation.

“One other factor that is often forgotten is the safety of moving the sheets around in the shop. In many cases, there are stacks of material that are being moved around several times a day. It is labour-intensive to handle those goods; safety and material quality (damage) are jeopardized from the daily handling. If the material is stored in a system, it only gets moved as the machine is demanding the material via a job. The material is then transferred to the end user automatically, scratch and dent-free.”

Ten Challenges in Automation
If you’re considering automation on your fabricating line, here are the top factors automation must address according to Bill Bossard, president, Salvagnini, Hamilton, OH.

  1. Fit into the plant and fit within the scheme of the shop flow.
  2. Be sized correctly.
  3. Be affordable and allow a company to achieve a return on investment.
  4. Be useable.
  5. Be easy to maintain.
  6. Reduce costs.
  7. Improve shop throughput.
  8. Increase velocity of parts moving between work centres.
  9. Handle variability in manufacturing to address the growing movement to customization.
  10. Sustainable. Automation won’t work for short-term contracts; it must be something that will be used over years of operation.

To find out more about Fab Shop Remake click here.

 

 


 



Saved by water

Fast-cutting waterjet machine improves productivity for emergency vehicle fabrication work

by Mary Scianna

The Problem: Unreliable outsourced fabrication work.

Rock hard

New generation of tougher cutting tools for hard metals

by Tim Wilson

In the world of cutting tools, hard metals don’t have to be hard-to-cut metals.

Natural Talents

by Andrew Brooks

Canada’s strength in natural resources is being matched by its winning hand in renewable energy

Airbus adds production line at Ontario plant

Airbus Helicopters Canada (formerly Eurocopter Canada) is adding a new productin line at its Fort Erie, ON, helicopter manufacturing facility. The expansion will create approximately 40 new high-skill manufacturing jobs.

Forming with Fluids

by Kip Hanson  |  photos by Beckwood Press Company

If you’re looking for a way to cut forming die costs in half, you’ve come to the right place.

$49 M for Quebec car parts maker

Raufoss Canada, a subsidisary of Norwegian manufacturer Neuman Aluminum, is investing $49 million to retrofit and expand production at its Broisbriand, QC, plant.

Electric panel bender bends in less than 2 seconds

Salvagnini's P1 100 per cent electric panel bender is desgined to bend panels with just 3 kW and is equipped with patented bending kinematics. The machine can make bends in less than two seconds. The bender is a good solution for companies working with cell production. 

Bystronic Canada: Innovation Drives Success event

Bystronic Canada manufacturing event in Concord, ON.

July 16, 2019 9:30 am - 2:00 pm

Visit Bystronic Canada online for more information and registration

Tube innovations focus at BLM Group event

BLM Group USA's week-long "Tube Innovation Week" in June at its Wixom, MI, headquarters was an opportunity to see the latest in tube processing technologies.

Job Shops Ontario - A Well-Laid Plan

by Kip Hanson

This established Ontario machine shop gets a new owner, new equipment, new software, and new opportunities

Nesting on the Fly

by Noelle Stapinsky

 How nesting software is keeping pace with industry needs 

Welding robotics

Understanding the benefits and building the case for the investment

By Brian Doyle, sales manager, Miller Welding Automation

The thought of converting to an automated welding system can be intimidating, even to the point that it causes the decision makers to disregard the process altogether.

FABTECH 2014: Automated robotic bending cell

Exhibitor: Amada America Booth: B-2503

Red hot

by Kip Hanson

The Problem: Rising energy costs in the face of increased customer demand call for a technology upgrade
The Solution: Fiber lasers cut costs and raise productivity

BC fireplace maker turns up the heat with fiber laser technology

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn