BLM Group USA has announced it new automated tube storage and retrieval solution that fully integrates with the company’s tube laser systems.
The system uses special cassettes that can be loaded directly inside the machine. The storage system automatically retrieves the correct material, bringing the material to the machine where it is automatically loaded. When jobs are complete, the system will automatically remove the used cassette with any remaining stock to be placed back into the tower. The system automatically checks the stock level and updates the warehouse management software. Automating these tasks enhances workplace safety and productivity by reducing the amount of downtime caused by moving raw material between jobs or restocking unused materials.
BLM Group also offers a second retrieval system style for use with a central warehouse. In this style, the desired bundle is automatically extracted from the storage tower and staged near the machine in a queue for either crane or forklift loading. This system is optimal for customers who have older legacy machines which can’t use the fully automated system.
In the past, tube lasers have featured integrated bundle loading – which always required the use of overhead cranes or forklifts for loading raw material – and finished-part unloading systems. Given the variable tube specifications such as length, profile shape, size, and weight of raw material, automating this process is more difficult than in a 2D application. Additionally, with tube stock, maintaining a stable tube position during movements and separating the tubes is challenging. Despite these issues and some potential limitations, automating the storage and retrieval functions will increase manufacturing efficiency for tubular components, as well as improving workplace safety. And, just like in the flat sheet industry, as soon as an automated system is created, the possibilities and configurations are almost limitless.