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Laser Technology

Salvagnini 's latest cutting tech helps an inventor's visions become reality at Winston Industries

By Gretchen Salois

Above: The L3’s automated configuration allows Winston Industries to cut different gauges all at once.

November 2018 - Over the course of seven decades, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur Winston L. Shelton earned 76 U.S. patents, one of which was for inventing the modern washing machine for General Electric in 1948. He also patented cooking technology that modernized the fast food industry.

After leaving GE in 1965 to start his own company, Winston Industries LLC, one of his first clients was Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) founder Colonel Harland Sanders. In 1969, Sanders asked Shelton to come up with a more efficient, safer way to fry his secret-recipe chicken. Shelton invented a self-filtering fryer, known as the Collectramatic, which helped automate KFC’s fried chicken process that is still in use today, nearly 50 years later.

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Salvagnini’s latest HMI emulates how smart phones work, making it more intuitive to operate and maintain its machines.

Today, Winston Industries, in Louisville, continues to advance food preparation technology by engineering machinery to efficiently produce cuisine that spans a gamut of palates for customers in 115 countries. After researching several laser manufacturers, Salvagnini America won the contract.

Bob Leavitt, general manager of the Winston Manufacturing division, recalls, “We provided files for a group of parts for one of our foodservice CVap units for Salvagnini to run on their laser. Their SL4 was able to produce all those parts in 37 minutes. The same files used to require an hour to three hours to fabricate using our previous setup. And in those 37 minutes, not one person needed to touch the materials,” he notes. “Every step was automated from racking to fit, to loading and offloading.”

One of Winston’s bankers accompanied the team to watch the demonstration. After seeing the SL4 perform the test so well, the banker turned to the Winston group and said, “Why haven’t you bought this equipment already?”

Salvagnini’s hands-free efficiency was reinforced by the fact that no matter what factory they visited, if it was a shop running a Salvagnini laser, it was up and running. “We noticed that wasn’t always the case when we visited facilities using lasers from other manufacturers,” says Leavitt.

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Using its Salvagnini machines, Winston Industries no longer needs to remove sharp sides and can achieve sleek compound edges without burrs.

Leap of faith

Winston Industries cuts and shapes stainless steel for foodservice equipment. “An added benefit Salvagnini offered was the ability to marry their laser with their bending machine, allowing for a smooth transition from one process to another using their conveyor system,” Leavitt says.

The $4 million investment included an SL4 laser, P4 Panel Bender and conveyor, which were a package purchase in 2012. “We were just coming out of the recession and it was a real leap of faith but we knew it would position us to be ready when the economy started back up again.”

Double the speed

While the CVap (controlled vapor) ovens fabricated by Winston look similar from the outside, each piece is carefully manufactured to individual customer specifications. Winston also manufactures for contract customers, and used the full capabilities of the SL4 and P4 in the fabrication of the Beyond Zero freezer and holding units. The device can freeze liquor (alcohol) into cubes of solid ice (reaching temperatures of -140 degrees Fahrenheit) in four minutes.

The unit’s cabinet features panels with reverse arcs and very tight radii, all cut and formed on the SL4 and P4 and then meticulously welded and finished by Winston.

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Combining the L3 and loading bays doubled the speed at which Winston Industries was able to laser cut.

In early 2018, demand prompted Winston to add a Salvagnini L3 to replace aging CO2 lasers as well as revisit its material handling process, including upgrading to a tower with multiple bays and auto loading. “The combination of the new L3 and loading bays doubled the speed we are able to laser cut,” says Stephanie Kharizanova, sales development manager at Winston. “The L3 can now cut 2,400 linear inches per minute, which is twice as fast as the one we purchased back in 2012 and 10 times faster as our old CO2 laser. With 6kW of power, we can also cut thicker material more quickly and while we’re presently not cutting a lot of thick material, when the need arises, we’re ready.”

The L3 can automatically flush and change its own gases, reducing downtime between processes. “The L3’s automated configuration allows us to cut different thicknesses all at one time,” says Tim Tyler, sales engineer at Winston. “This kind of flexibility gives us opportunities older technology does not offer. We’ve eliminated sharp sides and burring, and we’re now able to cut beautiful compound edges—we’re no longer limited to what we can do by hand.”

The automated L3 freed up two operators previously assigned to the older CO2 laser cutting machines. “Labor is hard to find—now these two team members can perform other tasks,” Tyler says. “We were also able to replace one of our turret presses and free up that team member as well with the addition of the L3.”

Hours of labor previously spent moving materials from station to station were also eliminated once the automated Salvagnini L3 and material handling towers were running.

Versatility

What differentiates Salvagnini from competitors is its ability to integrate material and parts handling into multiple Salvagnini machines, including panel benders, punching and press brakes, according to Geoff Wilkie, vice president, Salvagnini America Inc., Hamilton, Ohio.

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Clean cuts and perfectly radiused edges allow Winston to achieve complex designs in less time.

Salvagnini’s latest version of human-machine interface emulates how smart phones work, “which makes it more intuitive to operate and maintain our machines,” Wilkie says. “Anytime we can reduce the demand on operators through technology means that our customers can adopt the technology faster.”

The addition of the L3 and material handling addressed Winston’s current workflow needs while anticipating the years ahead. “Based on their current layout and flow of parts, integration into existing storage systems did not make sense for what they had planned for future growth,” recalls Wilkie.

Compared to CO2, costs for cutting parts with the L3 laser is often half, adds Wilkie.

“Since we engineer our solutions to be backwards compatible,” he continues. “Our customers can start with stand-alone machines and then add material handling and automation as their business grows.”

With refreshed functionality, Winston’s Tyler says the company is positioned to purchase an additional L3. “When people tour our facility and see our L3 at work, they also see the P4 panel bender unit and the perfectly radiused edges we’re able to achieve on our components, and are often surprised that a machine is capable of such finesse,” he says.

“The complexity of configurations that can be achieved in 15 minutes compared to eight hours using older methods is amazing,” adds Winston’s Kharizanova. “Recently, a contractor asked if we could produce a complex bin design and we were able to confirm a ‘yes’ answer within 24 hours.” FFJ

Sources

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NESTING SOFTWARE

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Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

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Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

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Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

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AMADA AMERICA, INC.

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Enmark Systems Inc.
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SigmaTEK Systems LLC

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Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
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STAMPING/PRESSES

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Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

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Burghardt + Schmidt Group

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Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

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Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
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Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

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Barton International

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Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

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Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

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Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
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HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
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