Positioned in the heart of cattle country in South Dakota, Art Kroetch began producing what ranchers around him in the early 1960s needed – gates and chutes, pickup stock racks and corral panels. A few years later, under the name Scotchman Industries, Kroetch purchased a patent for a hydraulic ironworker, a machine that implemented hydraulic pressure using 35 tons of power to shear, punch and bend metal, thus building a solid foundation for what the company has become today.
Scotchman Industries Inc. manufactures metal fabrication equipment and custom tools and accessories. While the company began with a focus on ironworker machines, it has firm footing in circular cold saws. Steel manual and semi-automatic saws, non-ferrous saws, non-ferrous upcut saws and automatic saws come in standard varieties through Scotchman, but most orders are made with customizations.
Mike Albrecht, national sales manager at Scotchman, says one of the biggest perks the company offers is the ability to customize – broadening the product line to fit into specialized applications.
“Everybody wants something a little different,” Albrecht explains. “It seems like every order we get anymore isn’t just a standard sawing machine. We do a lot of varieties of customizations to fit a specific need. If it doesn’t fit the customer, it doesn’t do any good to try to sell it.”
Albrecht says anytime a new application comes up, Scotchman’s research and development team is working to fit a saw into that application.
“We’ve turned down a few client requests,” he says. “Not a lot, but there are some things that are too far out there that can’t be done. Most of the time I would say there’s nothing that can’t be done, but maybe it can’t be done at an affordable price, and that’s kind of the key.”
Most customers seek customized sawing equipment because of a special material profile that can’t be crushed or an odd tube that can’t be correctly pushed through a machine and cut, Albrecht explains. This is what necessitates a customized feeding or clamping jaw to accommodate the part, which is the most frequently requested customized piece that Scotchman is asked to build.
Customized orders start with a one-on-one conversation between the client and Scotchman, whether through a network of dealers or through individual factory representatives around the country. Customers have also been known to send in sample parts so Scotchman engineers can see exactly how they need to customize the equipment.
“We’ll go out to a saw and try to cut it and match it up,” Albrecht says of the sample parts that are either sent to Scotchman or tested at the customer’s site with mobile equipment. “I don’t want to sell somebody a saw if the application is not right.”
Albrecht notes that trends are few and far between in the sawing industry, but an ongoing one involves a need for increased automation.
“We’ve always had some level of automation,” he says, “but now everybody is weighing against automation and increased productivity with less cost. Levels of automation are definitely increasing.”
Scotchman began distributing circular cold saws for BEWO of Holland in 1983,and began building saws in a joint venture with BEWO in 1988. The company then bought BEWO’s interest in 1993. Four years later, Scotchman took a leap forward into automation with the introduction of the Hitch Feed Automatic (HFA) and Roller Feed Automatic (RFA) circular cold saws.
Just over a decade ago, Scotchman bought a company called Advanced Measuring Systems to integrate manual length and stop gauging systems that could be used for most metal and woodworking jobs. This facilitated the introduction of a line of programmable feed systems and programmable stop systems in 2006, which gave clients the ability to eliminate operator error and increase production.
One of the newest saws the company is producing today is the CPO 315 HFA CNC fully automated saw. It offers touch-screen controls, an interlocking safety hood, mist coolant, programing for up to four separate cut lengths per job, 50-program job storage and unlimited shuttles, among other features.
“It gives you total CNC control to program in the length,” Albrecht says. “It allows you to easily enter the quantity of cut and length of each part. You have the ability to cut multiple cut lengths as well as unlimited lengths of cut. This saw has to be the easiest saw on the market to program.”
Also new is the CPO 315 RFA machine that uses a loading system that takes a supply track, loads it full of material and then loads the material onto a rack and feeds it through to set lengths where cuts are made. Albrecht says the return on investment for this low-cost, fully automated system can be as low as two to three years.
Landing an Uppercut
Scotchman Industries’ new CPO 315 HFA CNC saw is fully programmable, which means it can produce cut lengths quickly and accurately. Maintaining a length tolerance of ±0.006
in., users can cut tubes and pipe up to 3 1/2 in. dia. and solid material up to 1 3/4 in. thick
Scotchman offers a handful of standard upcut circular cold saws for large-capacity cutting of non-ferrous materials. The SUP-500 NF is designed for a 20-in. saw that can handle a 7-in.-dia. round or an 11.75-in.-by-5-in. rectangle.
For larger material needs, the SUP-600 NF has a 24-in. blade that cuts up to a 9-in.-dia. round or a 15-in.-by-6-in. rectangle. Also available is the GAA-500 90, which has a shuttle feed design for straight 90° cuts on large diameter profiles. It cuts up to a 6-in.-dia. round or a 10-in.-by-3-in. rectangle.
One way of meeting that increased level of automation expectancy came in 2013 when the company expanded its line of sawing equipment by bringing in a non-ferrous upcut circular cold saw, which is imported from Spain.
“Scotchman was looking to produce our own upcut saw until we met a partner in Spain,” Albrecht says. “It’s a good family company like our own. It was a good fit and we joined together on a joint venture to market the product in North America.”
Albrecht says prospective clients have the convenience of an on-site demonstration of the company’s sawing capabilities at their disposal. Sixteen sales reps throughout the country are equipped with trucks or trailers full of the company’s products.
“They can pull into a customer facility and make a cut. It’s a huge plus for the customer because they can justify the purchase before they actually have to pull the trigger.”
Scotchman’s target audience is pretty much anybody who cuts metal, Albrecht says. From hobby shops to Fortune 500 companies, the company has delivered – and it has delivered worldwide.
As an example of the variety of clients it services, Albrecht recounts one of his first jobs for the company around two decades ago. He was called to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, where on the third floor of the building sat two Scotchman circular cold saws and one ironworker used to create elaborate sets for plays and operas.
“That just shows you,” Albrecht says, “whether you’re cutting metal in a welding shop out in the middle of South Dakota or you’re working in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, there’s a place for a circular cold saw.”