Straight up

By Lisa Rummler

Vertical band saws from Peerless Industrial Equipment help Convey-All Industries stay flexible

April 2009 - "For amber waves of grain" might be a line from "America the Beautiful," but it can also describe an integral part of the business philosophy for a Canadian company.

Convey-All Industries Inc., Winkler, Manitoba, manufactures conveyors (often customized), grain augers and grain-handling systems.

The company is dedicated to diversification, according to Carl Toews, purchasing manager. Convey-All has added several lines of business since it was founded in 1983, including seed tanks, combine headers and outdoor wood furnaces.

A new venture, however, is taking the company beyond corn and wheat fields and into oil fields. Its most recent line of equipment is used at drilling sites to hold frac sand, which is used to fill wells in an effort to extract natural gas.

Throughout the years, Convey-All has used equipment from Peerless Industrial Equipment Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., and about a year ago, it purchased one of the company’s VB-181C vertical band saws.

"Our existing saw was worn out, and we needed to do an upgrade," says Toews. "It was causing too many bottlenecks, breaking down. This [new] saw was a breath of fresh air."

Convey-All runs the VB-181C 16 hours a day, five days a week, and it’s used primarily for bundle cutting of structural tube in 90 degree angles, as well as other angles of up to 45 degrees for production manufacturing of the equipment it builds.

Casting a wide net
Deno Loukidis, president of Peerless Industrial Equipment, says the saw is especially popular for structural fabrication. He also says the VB-181C can cut most materials, and with its 11/4-in.-wide band saw blade, it can handle 18-in.-by-20-in. rectangles and 18-in. round pieces. Furthermore, because of the way the head tilts, the saw can miter cut 45 degrees left and right.

"With this style machine, it mainly cuts structural shapes--tubing, channels, angles, box tubing and I beams--but we have other customers that cut solid steel, usually mild steels up into stainless or tool steels, and some customers cut plastic on it, as well," says Loukidis. "With a vertical-style machine, everything is out of the way, so they can get their material into the machine and vised up or clamped. Then the saw can come forward and make the cut."

Additionally, he says the saw’s versatility lends itself well to many applications in various industries, not just structural fabrication.

"Another reason why we consider this saw to be versatile is because it has an open work bed area, which allows an operator to load or unload via an overhead crane," he says. "With the open bed, fixtures can be mounted to the table and outfitted with T-slots to hold odd-shaped pieces that wouldn’t normally be able to be held in standard vises. An example would be castings. We’ve designed custom fixtures for various companies for that exact application."

The VB-181C is basically a full hydraulic machine (only the pump motor and coolant pump have electric motors), and the blade drive system has a direct-drive hydraulic motor. Loukidis says this offers end users several benefits they wouldn’t receive from the gear box associated with an electric motor.

"You usually have a ring and pinion setup in a gear box, where the worm shaft is a hardened piece, and then the worm gear is usually a softer metal, like bronze or brass," he says. "Over time, those wear out, so it becomes a service issue down the road. And with the gear box, because you’re going through the gearing, you usually lose torque. With a direct-drive hydraulic motor, there are no gears to wear out. It’s a fluid system. And being direct-driven, we have a great amount of torque, even at lower speeds, which is usually where you’ll end up losing it with the other style."

Shake, rattle and roll
Peerless launched the current style design for the VB-181C in the late 1990s. Since that time, the company has come to offer newer options, including an automatic roll feed.

Convey-All decided to opt for this feature for its model of the band saw, and Toews says it’s reduced direct and indirect costs.

"It’s a tool that’s useful in cutting our operating time because you program the computer for 24-in. cuts, if you need 50 pieces, and load it up with steel, and it will cut. Then it indexes the material another 24 in., and it will continue to cut," he says. "That, in and of itself, saves a lot of labor costs. We’ve had good success with it. The old system would grab the material and then index it forward with a hydraulic cylinder. This has two feed wheels that clamp and pinch the material and then continue to roll, basically spinning the material through."

Another feature Convey-All chose for its VB-181C was an optional misting system, which Toews says has been a boon for the company.

"There’s less mess made when you do a cut, keeping the blade cool," he says. "There’s not a lot of fluid on the ground, and there’s not a lot of fluid on the cut pieces, so there’s less time with cleanup when they go to weld the parts."

In addition to lowering labor costs and reducing cleanup time, the VB-181C has increased overall productivity, according to Toews.

"At the time we bought the saw, we added an evening shift because there was a need, and when it came to production, we were three to four weeks behind in cutting," he says. "This saw cut the time in half."

Further, as Convey-All has grown to its current size of eight production plants, as well as a plant 15 minutes outside Winkler, the VB-181C has helped support the company’s size and flexibility.

"We’re so diversified, depending on what we’re building, we can jump from outdoor wood furnaces, if that’s slow, and [we can] get some agricultural equipment someone needs to build and vice versa," says Toews. "We flip back and forth to stay flexible. This saw handles everything in the Winkler area, and for the one plant that’s south of town, we put in a new saw. But for the most part, we’ve been able to take down a couple of old saws and productivity with [the VB-181C]."

Branching out
Peerless Industrial Equipment has been in business since the early 1900s, when it was founded as the Wisconsin Machine Co., a manufacturer of power hacksaws. Sawing remains its predominant business.

But because the company has worked so much with fabricators over the last eight to 10 years, Loukidis says many of its products go beyond sawing, such as structural drills, plate processing equipment and different kinds of rolls.

"We try to focus everything we do to the customers, offering a wide array of products," he says. "We’ve gotten into those products because fabricators have become an important part of our business."

Peerless Industrial Equipment remains committed, however, to supporting its earliest area of focus and to being a one-stop shop for sawing customers in particular.

"We have our own line of band saw blades that we offer, as well as supplying cutting fluids--you can get the machine from us, the blade from us and the fluids from us," says Loukidis. "Then, if customers have any issues, they only have one person to call." FFJ


  • Convey-All Industries Inc.
    Winkler, Manitoba
    phone: 800/418-9461
    fax: 204/325-8116

  • Peerless Industrial Equipment Corp.
    Oshkosh, Wis.
    phone: 920/231-4100
    fax: 920/231-4303


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