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By Lauren Duensing

Nothing beats an accurate shear for high-tolerance, high-productivity, straight cuts, says Jason Clark, president, Canrack Metal Center Systems

FFJ 1117 face leadNovember 2017 - Q: Before committing to the purchase of expensive new equipment, why should fabricators consider retrofitting their old shears?

Jason Clark: Generally, old shears are thought to be obsolete, but that’s not always the case. Many times, fabricators simply can’t get the tolerance or performance they want out of an old shear, so they consider investing in other equipment, like lasers, or may outsource work they used to do themselves. However, there is a less costly option of retrofitting the shear with new components to boost its productivity and turn it into a high-production setup.

Q: What types of solutions are available for retrofit?

Clark: Companies can add material handling, which can be something as simple as a vacuum lift or other type of lift device at the front of the shear, which means you can staff a single worker to handle the raw material. They can add a feeder that will gauge and run a part through the shear or add a conveyor at the back to help clear parts away from the blade and separate bad pieces or trim cuts from good product.

Canrack will come in and study the customer’s shop to determine where improvements can be made. Not everybody is looking for super high accuracy—some people just want to be able to handle single sheets up front. Lots of customers also invest in shear conveyors because they are a simple solution that can solve a lot of problems at the back end.

Q: How can retrofitting the shear improve man-hours per ton and worker safety, while extending the life of the equipment?

Clark: Unfortunately, without knowing what options are out there, people are the one resource that fabricators have. They throw bodies at a shear to try to make it more efficient, and that doesn’t always prove to be worthwhile. I’ve had some customers with four employees running the shear—two at the front handling sheet and two at the back taking off cut parts.

With the right setup, that can be reduced to one person. That operator is positioned at the front of the shear and uses a vacuum lift to place sheet into the feeder. As the shear cuts, the good parts go to the back of the shear where there is a right-angle conveyor. The cut piece moves away from the blade, comes across and actually returns back to the front of the shear where the same operator can hand stack the parts.

Q: Can you cite some improvements that a user was able to achieve after retrofitting their shear?

Clark: There are a lot of really good old shears out there that cut straight and will continue to cut straight for a long time. Fabricators want to be able to do more with these shears. One of our customers was considering buying a second shear to produce more parts. They ended up purchasing our shear feeder, and it not only eliminated the need for that second shear but also they were able to get 25 percent more productivity out of the existing shear.

Most customers today have the approach that they’re going to buy the newest, latest and greatest. They don’t start out thinking they’re going to buy another shear. They look at laser tables and multi-turret punches. They try to do more, and in a lot of cases, they don’t need all that. There’s a big expense to purchasing and installing those types of machines, plus there’s the investment in operator training so your crew can start producing parts. For customers that need high-tolerance, high-productivity, straight cuts, nothing beats a high-accuracy shear.  FFJ

Jason Clark is president of Canrack Metal Center Systems. The Toronto, Ontario-based firm provides material handling solutions for steel service centers and fabricators throughout North America, including racking and storage systems, shear automation, bar and sheet order filling stations, and cut-to-length inline packaging.


  • Canrack Metal Center Systems
    Toronto, Ontario
    phone: 905/564-6250

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