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Sawing/Cutting

A variety of options

By FFJournal staff

April 2011 - Well-engineered sawing machines often can stand the test of time, but the challenge for job shops is to find the right saw to fit their needs. Today's shops work in a variety of markets, and they require saws that will allow them to create long-lasting infrastructures that captivate the imagination.

In order to modernize its facility and compete in the fast-paced sawing industry, Met-Con Inc., Cocoa, Fla., sought a saw that could handle Met-Con's large quantities and sizes of wide flange beams. Eight years ago, the company purchased a Kaltenbach HDM 1411, a precursor to the current HDM 1412, the largest structural circular saw available on the market, from Structural Machinery Solutions Inc., Columbus, Ind.

"We're building launch pads and jumbo columns," says Brian Greer, shop manager at Met-Con, which provides cutting for large-scale projects. "We've just finished a mobile launcher for the Kennedy Space Center, where the crawler comes in and picks up the entire launcher before takeoff."

The large-scale project also requires a lot of precision. In addition to its work for the Kennedy Space Center, the company constructs additions and modifications; miscellaneous hand-rail and platform work; and structural work using a lot of overhead cranes. In Orlando, Fla., Met-Con is working on attractions for Legoland at Walt Disney World, Discovery Cove, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. In order to meet the demands of these projects, Met-Con needed a machine that had reliable technical support during and after purchase.

SMS joins durability, flexibility and expansive knowledge to provide customers with options suitable for each shop's needs. "The support received from SMS's technical department has never been an issue, and they are very prompt and knowledgeable with any questions directed their way," Greer says. "Since purchasing the saw [eight years ago], we have had very minor issues, which were promptly addressed and rectified.

"With today's standards of accuracy and fast turnaround, the HDM saw has performed to the full extent of AISC standards, whether cutting wide flange members, tubular shapes, solid bars, etc., without any issues," continues Greer. Since purchasing the saw, Met-Con has had SMS come in and train new operators and tune up the machine. Greer found both the training and upkeep to be an easy and dependable process, an added benefit to using a German-made machine with technical support provided in the United States.

Behind the scenes at SMS are David McCorry, president, and Michael Drzewiecki, vice president. According to McCorry, he and Drzewiecki worked selling only Kaltenbach products. About a year ago, McCorry decided to take one or two additional product lines. After getting the green light from Kaltenbach, McCorry and Drzewiecki decided to join together to establish SMS as the sole provider of Kaltenbach products in the United States, Canada and Mexico. SMS also is a dealer in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio for Hyd-Mech, Controlled Automation, Rimco and Comeq products.

When helping customers determine which line or machine options are the best fit for their company, SMS has a few guidelines it follows. "We tend to look at the application and then find within the Kaltenbach or other lines the option that best fits the customer," says Drzewiecki. "As long as we stay true to that, we end up with a satisfied customer. We won't have mistakes or misapplications." He adds the bar is high for these machines, which are put to the test constantly, working through a wide range of specifications and requirements. Drzewiecki notes sometimes the best fit isn't the cheapest option, and each shop's needs might not require such a large investment. In some cases, a shop finds "it's not always the cheapest choice, but it's going to do the job best," he says.

The importance of precision
Maintaining a large workload can be difficult if the available tools limit a company's abilities. When Precision Cutting Specialties, Eunice, La., decided it needed a more efficient machine, it went to SMS. Precision Cutting is a large job shop, providing a wide array of services, including project management, quality control/part inspections, laser cutting, metal forming, precision plasma cutting, oxy-fuel cutting and other services. "We build lift kits for four-wheel-drive trucks. We work in the oil and gas industries, but our primary market is in high-voltage transmission for utility companies," says Stan Loewer, owner of Precision Cutting.

He found his company was cutting a lot of solid material it had to subcontract to other vendors. "We were getting quite a few inconsistencies in part quality, which was further added to working downstream. We were getting random length bars from vendors that were cutting our parts. By taking this in-house, we're able to control quality instead of dealing with it further downstream," Loewer says.

Since its saw purchase, Precision Cutting already is seeing a significant difference in output and operations. "I was in the market for a bandsaw machine and one of our customers led me to Kaltenbach and David McCorry at SMS," he says. Precision Cutting purchased the Kaltenbach KBC 280 NA, an NC-automatic bandsaw with multiple clamps and heavy-duty roller tables. "Bundle cutting is very important to our company because we cut high-volume quantities for our CNC lathe department," Loewer says. "I needed a solution that could outpace the lathe's turning capacity.

"In the past, we had machines waiting for material to be saw-cut one bar at a time, which really slowed production." Instead, the purchase allows for "no wrench work." Precision Cutting can operate the saw with one operator. "With other saws, the operator in-feeds the bars onto the conveyor and loads it, whereas the Kaltenbach saw automatically bundle-loads the material," Loewer says. "We bundle a good amount of solid materials, which vary in size. If we can take the manual work of an operator having to adjust bundle clamps with every bundle that comes through, we save time."

Precision Cutting"s recent saw upgrade has resulted in a "tremendous labor savings," according to Loewer, who also adds that a lot of saws have a limited adjustment range, resulting in a person having to physically get involved using tools. "With Kaltenbach, it's automatic and it increases safety because you don't have a person trying to get in there and get a position for the saw," he says.

As material prices increase, Loewer emphasizes the importance of utilizing as much material as possible from each bar. "This is especially important when cutting high-cost items, such as stainless steel, titanium and other alloys. The cost savings from high bar utilization adds up quickly on expensive material," he adds.

There are a number of different brand names for bandsaws available on the market. Loewer believes that while Kaltenbach was founded in 1887, because it is a German company, its presence in the North American market may not be as prevalent as it could be. "It might not be as dramatic an option compared to off-the-shelf [familiar, local] choices, but it really is worth it," Loewer says. "You're going to pay more money for a Kaltenbach machine, but in the long run, it's a much more cost-effective way to cut your parts. FFJ

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Sources

  • Met-Con Inc.
    Cocoa, Fla.
    phone: 321/632-4880
    fax: 321/639-0158
    www.metconinc.com

  • Precision Cutting Specialties
    Eunice, La.
    phone: 337/457-0637
    fax: 337/457-4290
    www.precisionflame.com

  • Structural Machinery Solutions Inc.
    Columbus, Ind.
    phone: 800/825-5729
    fax: 812/342-2336
    www.smscolumbus.com

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