When a buyer is comparing machine tools from different manufacturers, it is a common practice to review their specifications side by side. However, how those specifications are interpreted – and more importantly what they truly mean – help inform a buyer’s decision.
For example, if one machine weighs more than another machine, is that important? Is it an indication of better quality or a better build? In some cases, it may be applicable, but suggesting that a machine that weighs more than another one will be a better performer cannot possibly tell the whole story.
The same can be said for many of the other machine specifications manufacturers post as a comparative measurement. The question is, which of these specifications truly impact product quality, performance and reliability? Just because a manufacturer has a specification that is different or higher in a particular way does not alone make the machine of higher quality.
In the world of sawing, the weights of different models are often discussed or compared during the buying process. Saws of the same capacity may have dramatic differences in total machine weight. But does it have any correlation to sawing capability?
Certainly, customers may feel that weight equates to rigidity or perhaps better quality in the build, but it is easy and inexpensive for a cheaply made saw to add weight to make it seem more substantial and look better in specification comparison. However, simply adding more weight to the base of a steel fabricated machine does not make it better than one built using quality cast iron components.
The materials used in the build and location of the weight are much more important than the overall machine weight. For example, a lighter cast iron constructed saw with the weight located in the bow frame of the machine is going to outperform a steel fabricated saw with all the weight located in the base.
Another highly compared specification is the horsepower of a saw. In comparable-sized machines, many manufacturers have higher standard horsepower and they tout that as an advantage. But is it? The answer is clearly no in that the real measurement of sawing capabilities is torque generated at the saw blade not the horsepower of the motor itself.
A quick explanation of torque as it applies to sawing: Think about attempting to loosen a stuck bolt with a 6-in.-long wrench versus a 24-in.-long wrench. The same arm strength (horsepower) is applied in both situations, but the 24-in.-long wrench delivers much more torque and allows for easier removal of the bolt. This is the same theory as turning saw horsepower into torque via the gear box.
A heavy-duty and high-quality gear box is what makes horsepower much more efficient in the process of generating torque in sawing. However, torque is not a specification often listed for comparison. This is even though it is truly the torque, rather than the horsepower, that is required to allow the blade to pull a chip through the material efficiently. Saws that have higher horsepower than a Behringer machine need that horsepower to offset a lighter quality gear box.
Feature vs. function
Saw manufacturers highlight various aspects of their products that will stand out in this comparison and try to present them in a way to differentiate themselves from the competition, even if they have no implication on true performance. This takes me back to my early sales training when I learned about “feature, function, benefit selling.”
In many cases, the specification referenced is nothing but a feature of the machine, but what is its function, and does it truly deliver any benefit to the end user? My response to many of the specifications or features I see listed on competitors’ documents is, “so what?”
A true benefit is something that is measurable, such as cutting speed, extended blade life, cut quality, reliability, longevity, cost per cut and so on. These are all aspects of sawing that impact performance, efficiency and operational costs, which will help translate to ROI over the lifetime of the equipment.
The basics of sawing have not changed much over the last few years except for a handful of new technologies focused on automation in material handling. The most recent advancements in sawing have been the introduction of ballscrew servo drive technology and the machine controls. Ballscrew servo drive technology is utilized on all Behringer machines in the material feeding and the machine downfeed control.
This technology allows for much greater precision, control and repeatability in the process over older hydraulic technology. Ballscrew servo technology is predictable and accurate within hundreds of thousandths of an inch, and eliminates guessing speeds and feeds and accurate length tolerances. This is a big step forward in reliability and performance and contributes in other areas such as blade life and cutting speed.
The advancement of saw controls is also furthering sawing precision by making the operator’s job easier. For example, the new Behringer control helps the operator determine if they have the appropriate blade on the machine for the material, and if not, what adjustment must be made to allow for proper sawing with that particular blade type and its teeth per inch.
When material is loaded in the saw and the operator chooses the material type from the menu and adds the material dimensions, they are provided the proper blade type, speeds and feeds. If the blade on the machine is different from that recommendation, it will adjust the speeds and feeds accordingly to assure it will cut efficiently and squarely with that blade. More complicated automated systems may require additional control capability at which point Behringer sawing experts may choose to add a full PC control for even greater programming capability.
Automation is an area that our customers are moving toward to overcome employment challenges, as well as generate a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Often when discussing sawing efficiency, customers are focused on the cut time, when in essence the real measurement of sawing efficiency is cycle time. Cycle time includes the cut time of a particular part plus the time required to advance and begin the start of the next cut.
On a broader scale, cycle time should also include the time in between changing of the bar, tube, bundle or other material to continue the cycle. This is where true automation is a differentiator. If a particular length of product is cut into parts over 15 min. but it takes 20 min. to position the next bar, this is lost efficiency.
True material handling automation can make this sawing cycle continuous, with a minimal transition time in between material changeout. With a variety of loading magazines available, Behringer has a solution for virtually any application, material type and size. Behringer produces many products that are behind lights-out operations, delivering dramatic efficiency, savings and ROI.
There are a substantial number of differences in the various available saws’ construction, features, functions and benefits. In respect to construction, the materials utilized are critical in the overall reliability and performance. For example, is it welded steel fabrication or cast iron construction? Castings certainly deliver a more rigid construction, but also have the additional function of vibration dampening characteristics, with the benefit being much longer blade life, better quality of cutting, scrap reduction and lower cost per cut over steel fabricated designs.
Other criteria include the blade bias, the blade control/monitoring, the vice clamping functionality and much more. All these variances should be discussed in detail with the saw supplier and assure they are optimized for the user’s particular application.
When comparing saws – yes, it is important to consider the specifications noted in the catalog or website, but also make sure to understand these differences and if they are truly benefits or simply a feature.
Again, a higher horsepower machine sounds appealing in specifications, but it needs to be understood why the higher horsepower is required when ultimately the only thing it might deliver is higher operating costs.
Another example of understanding specifications is the actual saw capacity. Many of our competitors will specify a saw of a certain cutting dimension but will recommend the operator run at only 80 percent of that maximum, whereas Behringer’s position is that if it reaches the throat of the machine, the operator can cut it on that machine.
Customers should work directly with the supplier to address all their needs, and any quality saw manufacturer will invest all the time necessary to assure the customer is getting the best machine for the specific application. If they don’t, this is indicative that they just want to sell a machine.