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Waterjet Cutting

Hard-Line ventures into other areas using AXYZ

By Gretchen Salois

Above: WARDJet’s software interface makes training apprentices easy for Hard-Line.

A manufacturer of remote control automation for heavy machinery ventures into other areas

October 2018 - Underground in oxygen-depleted darkness, technology-driven equipment makes it possible for man to explore uninhabitable terrain. Whether through long stretches of isolated underground waterways faced by rescuers this past July to bring back 12 boys and their soccer coach to safety in Thailand, or miners delving hundreds of feet through solid rock, remote-operated heavy machinery and equipment helps remove some of the danger.

Hard-Line in Dowling, Ontario, develops and fabricates components for remote control automation of heavy machinery. To manage manufacturing costs tightly and ensure faster delivery times, Hard-Line brought waterjet cutting in house. “We knew we needed a cutting technology that didn’t use heat and we also needed to hit tight tolerances,” says Max Gray, vice president of marketing and communications. “We also needed a user-friendly interface, particularly for our apprentices, so that training time is minimal.”

Hard-Line selected WARDJet in large part because the machinery maker’s support system was hands-on and readily available. “Supporting the product during and after purchase was important to us,” says France Dubois Hnatiuk, Hard-Line’s vice president of operations. “We noticed a big difference when talking to WARDJet versus some of the other waterjet manufacturers we looked into. It wasn’t just a straight purchase. They offered guidance and suggestions based on machine capabilities suited to our needs now as well as into the future.”

Ahead of the game

Previously, Hard-Line used a cutting plasma system. However, “It couldn’t fabricate our complete product line,” Hnatiuk says. “We needed more control over quality and delivery, which we didn’t have when we were outsourcing the work.”

The waterjet helps support Hard-Line’s large inventory, kept at each location so clients can quickly access new parts. Parts are also delivered directly to client job sites and installed by Hard-Line technicians.

Operator training can be done on site or at WARDJet. “WARDJet’s CNC software is intuitive and easy to learn,” explains Wayne Silasi, marketing manager at WARDJet, Tallmadge, Ohio. “And if an operator runs into any issues, there is 24/7 remote support that they can use—be it for software or machinery-related problems.”

FFJ 1018 waterjet image1

With its waterjets, Hard-Line is able to lend its services to students to cut metal used for robotics competitions.

WARDJet was acquired by AXYZ International in July, so it now taps into a broader network of local sales and service locations. Based in Canada, AXYZ started out nearly 30 years ago by installing and repairing CNC routers. It has since been manufacturing CNC router systems and CNC knife systems. “The [merger] has opened up a global network for WARDJet,” Silasi says. “With 14 locations worldwide, we’re always looking where to expand in order to be able to offer quick local support.

“Our customers, like Hard-Line, are innovating in their industries by combining different technologies and pushing the envelope in terms of manufacturing and automation,” he adds.

The AXYZ International acquisition of WARDJet allows the manufacturer to provide product demonstrations in convenient locations, encouraging potential customers to try the equipment out.

New opportunities

Using the models E-1515 and Z-2043 waterjet machines, Hard-Line is able to take advantage of a compact footprint without sacrificing capability. “It’s still a full 5 ft. by 5 ft. cutting area and the 12-in. Z-travel allows the user to cut a wide variety of materials and thicknesses,” Silasi explains. “The E-1515 can also be tailored to the user’s specific needs, like using multiple heads, and can continually be tailored as the needs of the business changes.”

The waterjet cutter has opened up avenues of production for intricate work, including the Laurentian University Mars Rover Sponsorship. Hard-Line provided the collegiate team with cut aluminum sheet parts. Students competed against other international universities to create a robot meant to complete tasks that might be encountered by an actual Mars Rover.

Hard-Line has also supported local FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Teams for the past three years. FRC is an international competition in which high school students have six weeks to design and build a robot to accomplish specific tasks. Hard-Line provided cut parts using the waterjet.

With six operators working interchangeably throughout the shop, Gray says that between workers and inventory, Hard-Line is now considering offering its waterjet cutting capabilities as a service to customers.

“Now that the waterjet has helped stabilize our product line, we’ve been able to get ahead of the game and can put in a second shift,” Gray says. “That’s another source of revenue and, in this business, it gives us an edge.” FFJ

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