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Sawing/Cutting

When precision is paramount

By Abbe Miller

The right equipment facilitates tight tolerances for tight deadlines

Consumers rely on the quality of the items that they purchase, just as the OEMs and fabricators that make these products rely on the quality provided by their metals suppliers. For some consumer goods, tight tolerances within these materials must be met. Whether it's a child's car seat or a cell phone, consumers put their faith in the ability of the manufacturer. When they buy these items, they trust that they won't fail.

Similarly, the level of expectation is no less when it comes to outsourcing processed material. And because many metals distribution companies realize the demand for value-added metal, they're incorporating that capacity into their operations at breakneck speed. To increase the available tolerance of cut-to-length product available to its customers, Tube Service Co., Milpitas, Calif., a division of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., fell into line. The company picked up its first Scotchman CPO 315 RFA. The Scotchman cold saw allows the company to promise length tolerances of ±0.004 in.

"We'd have customers call us for jobs where we'd sell them the full lengths and they'd have to drop it off at a cutter," says Rich Kramer, manager at Tube Service. "We couldn't hold the tolerances that they needed back then. There's a lot of welding that goes on with tubes and for some customers, ±1/16 in. could've been okay. But there was a huge market that we hadn't been tapping from industries that require closer-tolerance material."

Tube Service, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, has always offered carbon, stainless and alloy tubes. "All tubes, all the time," according to Kramer. Now, however, the bar has been raised, and with it, the number and type of customers.

"We've always had a pretty mixed bag as far as the customer base goes," Kramer explains. "We sell to machine shops and some pretty substantial-sized companies. We have horizontal band saws that are capable of doing close-tolerance cutting but nowhere near what the Scotchman can provide."

A perfect fit
When the Scotchman cold saw first showed up at the Milpitas facility in July 2007, the company's horizontal band saws were being worked to the bone. "We haven't had it for long, but we've been able to attract some additional business in addition to reducing the backlog that we were experiencing on the other saws," Kramer says.

But it wasn't just about adding a new service, it was also about speeding up the in-house production process. So besides expanding its tolerances, Tube Service's pre-existing saws were allowed a moment to breathe. And they didn't have to give up any elbow room for the Scotchman saw, either. The slender build of the cold saw slid right into the facility without much fuss.

"Lengthwise, it leaves a very small footprint," Kramer says. "We were able to put it into the cutting cell without really moving any equipment. All we had to do was set up the electrical. It was like it was made for that spot in our facility."

Kramer suggested the purchase of the CPO 315 RFA after seeing it run at one of Tube Service's customers' shops. "I was watching them zip through aluminum round stock that they produce," he says. "And I started asking the manager that was taking me through the plant about it. Obviously we were in the market for a saw, and when I saw it running, it piqued my interest. I asked the guy about downtime and he said that they'd had it for several years and that he couldn't remember the last time that it was down."

Set it and forget it
Of all the bells and whistles that a saw can offer, Kramer says the main attraction to the Scotchman model was the ability to "set the thing and walk away." Tube Service's sawing operators don't have to load it or unload it. The time and labor involved for them to set up a job on the saw are negligible. The expediency that Tube Service can deliver with the Scotchman equipment is yet another enhancement to the company's operations. "The quicker you can put it in the hands of the customer in the specifications that they want, the better off you are," he adds. He says that the 10-ft. extension and the automatic tube injection feature keep the company's production levels high.

"We can put 20-ft. lengths into the saw," he says. "We put the lengths of tube into straps that lift the material up so that it just slides right into the machine, and then the saw takes it from there. Once the tubes are cut, they drop directly into a collection basket."

For the most part, the Scotchman saw is processing material for new orders, such as those from the semiconductor industry. These customers require smaller-size tube for frame material. The saw can handle a minimum measurement of 11/4 in. in length. As far as lightening the pre-existing saws' loads, the Scotchman can handle up to 60 in. in length.

"Most of what we cut are rounds, squares and hexes in carbon, aluminum and stainless," Kramer explains.

He continues to describe how the saw has also changed the way his sales people conduct their daily routines. "It's an extra tool for them to talk about when they're going face to face with both existing and potential customers," he says. "Now we can supply the tube and the cutting with tighter tolerances."

It's been obvious for some time that if a fabricator or OEM needs its metal processed out of house it's undoubtedly beneficial, in more ways than one, to only deal with one source. In terms of keeping things straight for situations that can arise like the "Where's my material?" crisis, one-stop shopping is the way to go. Add in shipping costs and the time involved, and it just makes sense. FFJ

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NESTING SOFTWARE

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Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
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PLATE

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BEVELING

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COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

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Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

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Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

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DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
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MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

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