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Sawing/Cutting

Intelligent sawing starts with HE&M Saw controls

By Paul Beha, products manager, HE&M Saw

Above: HE&M's DC4045-CTS2 is a dual-column, heavy-duty production band saw.

January 2019 - Metal distribution and metalworking companies face stiff competition and must constantly look for ways to cut costs, improve efficiency and reduce process time. Machine builders must respond by developing technologies and automation that can overcome the challenges that affect profitability.

Because the labor market is tight and adequate training is costly, metal fabrication executives require that technology be integrated into as many aspects of their operations as possible. This calls for advanced controls for basic sawing and multi-operation sawing processes, which is being answered with the broad concept of “intelligent sawing.”

Many automatic features are now integrated into the control. Functions and parameters that—until just recently—had to be known, understood and manually entered by the operator, are now pre-programmed into touch screen PLC-driven controls. Many saw operators may not be completely familiar with the characteristics or machinability of the variety of materials they are expected to cut; the basic functions of band saw blades or how to select them; or even basic sawing concepts, such as feed rates and cutting pressures. These are all integral to efficient band sawing and blade life and directly affect operation costs, productivity and profits.

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Above: the main cutting screen of the CTS2 control; Below: the control alerts operators about a broken blade.

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HE&M Saw has largely taken the operator out of this equation with programmed blade speeds, feed rates and cutting pressures that are preset for material types and sizes.

Each of these parameters is programmed into the monitor and stored in an interactive and modifiable material database library that is organized by both material type and size.

This allows the operator to organize and store jobs with cutting parameters already built in, saving time and money by preventing mistakes that could occur when entering values that exceed the saw blade’s capabilities.

The system also provides parameters that produce efficient sawing and maximize blade life. Extending blade life means buying fewer replacements and reducing labor costs associated with swapping in a new blade.

Using the intelligent sawing model to develop the latest touch screen controls and looking forward to the next iteration of control design helps produce a more intuitive and interactive operation and more sophisticated controls that are easier to learn and to operate.

The era of preventive diagnostics is part of the Industry 4.0 movement in band saw technology. Employees might occasionally procrastinate with performing required preventive maintenance.

To combat this, band saw controls will soon feature reminders for required maintenance, such as hydraulic oil changes and other often overlooked but critical items. Because hydraulic oil is heated during operations and cooled during machine-off times, the oil’s properties can change, especially due to condensation. A dashboard reminder can go a long way toward maintaining a machine’s performance by prompting action.

The team of engineers at HE&M Saw has created a software solution called Smart Saw Connect (SSC) that can be embedded into band saws, providing information to let the operator know it’s time for service, even to the point of predictive maintenance.

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The control console is located on the front of the saw for the operator’s convenience.

Shop managers want to monitor their equipment and receive feedback in formats that are easy to evaluate and are actually usable for decision-making.

With HE&M’s upcoming control using Smart Saw Connect technology, its control engineers are developing feedback devices to provide a wide range of machine and process monitoring, including predictive maintenance information. These sensors will allow monitoring for efficiency, as well as remote programming that can be set up to be accessed by the customer’s management—and even by HE&M engineering department if that proves necessary.

The software associated with Smart Saw Connect will be compatible with MTConnect, a non-proprietary manufacturing technical standard for data exchanges between software applications and equipment.

Max Harris, head of engineering at HE&M, and saw controls engineer Rajitha Dissanayake, each support this compatibility because MTConnect allows all machine tools to speak a common language for the purpose of visualizing efficiency and data.

Millions of dollars have been spent in the development of MTConnect, and it is becoming the standard for all CNC machines operating in the United States.

With the evolution of Smart Saw Connect, remote job programming and material optimization is near. This automated monitoring will extend machine life and lower downtime, provide production oversight, and increase operator accountability.

This will give managers increased access to meaningful data, improving visibility into their processes and maximizing the utilization of their equipment.

Functions such as the automated monitoring of fluid levels and real-time cutting performance and output information can equate to large savings.

Band saw controls have an exciting future, with the newest software and hardware accomplishing solutions to problems by integrating and using modern technology. FFJ

Paul Beha is the product manager at HE&M Saw.

Sources

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