When the topic of increasing rates of production involving sawing operations is discussed, the immediate response often is to evaluate specific saw parameters, including items like blade
selection, saw arm feed rates, blade speeds or employee performance. While all of these factors should be considered, it is sometimes an issue that exists elsewhere in the sawing process that can make the greatest impact.
Updating older saws with newly developed and more technologically advanced equipment is sure to increase efficiency and save time in sawing operations, thereby increasing productivity. Innovations such as HE&M Saw’s Blade Enhancer feature, the introduction of Industry 4.0 concepts and the evolved manufacturing standard of MTConnect in newer control systems have improved sawing operations as well as overall performance evaluation and maintenance coordination. All of the new technological advancements save time and, therefore, increase productivity.
HE&M Saw’s new Smart Saw control and Smart Saw Connect is compatible with MTConnect, the non-proprietary manufacturing technical standard designed so data can be exchanged between software applications and equipment on the shop floor.
The head of engineering at HE&M Saw, Max Harris, along with HE&M saw controls engineers, have supported the compatibility, as MTConnect is designed to allow 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 shops in the United States for all CNC machines.
HE&M Saw engineers also work to incorporate aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) into the controls and other components of the operating systems on saws and material handling systems.
“The common method of decision making at many service centers is reactionary rather than proactive,” Harris says. “With the incorporation of AI into the controls, the software can accumulate data, analyze it and use it to respond in a more predictive manner.”
The ability to be predictive can make the difference between job interruption due to a catastrophic equipment failure and scheduling a job to be completed in the scheduled/allotted timeframe.
“Our efforts are geared around designing and manufacturing equipment that lasts longer, performs more efficiently and is more productive, providing a much faster ROI for our customers,” Harris explains. “Being innovative and generating systems such as Smart Saw Connect ensures that the customer receives equipment that accomplishes that goal.”
Other significant areas that are commonly overlooked are the activities that occur before and after sawing. Productivity and efficiency do not only apply to the actual sawing; getting the
material to the saw and away from the saw after cutting is critical to the production cycle.
Years of focused, time-study assessments evaluating sawing operations in various types of facilities have led to the realization that a more comprehensive approach to the sawing process, one that utilizes a “sawing system” design concept, is required. This concept has improved the output of the sawing process exponentially by the design and utilization of various material handling components.
Integrating material handling components into the equation improves efficiencies by employing a more comprehensive, whole-sawing system approach rather than the focus on only the bandsaw. The ability to move material through the primary sawing operation, in many instances into secondary processes, creates more efficiencies and savings by increasing material flow. A 50 percent reduction in sawing time only reduces the overall sawing efficiency by 20 percent at best, so efficiencies must be sought out in other areas of the operation.
At HE&M Saw, material handling components have been created to improve efficiencies. For example, the ability to move material through the primary sawing operation – in many instances into secondary and tertiary processes – creates more efficiency and savings with increased material flow. As mechanical improvements to these material handling features have improved, design enhancements in the control of the material handling components, combined with the saw in an “integrated” fashion, have become the focus.
Not every business, of course, has the budget or need for a fully automated material handling system. For example, components such as cross-transfers, powered roller tables or side loaders might be overkill for a small operation. But there are still many budget-minded material handling features that can make a huge difference in the bottom line and improve output with less long-term production costs. The cost and return on investment must be considered when HE&M Saw’s engineering department takes on any project; a thorough evaluation of the current process and cost-justification for any additional expense is required. HE&M understands customers want a good ROI and we design their equipment accordingly.
However, with the difficulties today finding and keeping employees, offering components that take up the slack by utilizing more technology to replace humans in operations becomes more justifiable and even necessary. Robotic equipment is frequently becoming much more common in manufacturing and metal supply facilities. Incorporating components like staging arms or cross transfers allow an employee the ability to cover two functions: move material and cut material, freeing up crane or forklift time while keeping the sawing process more continuous.
Using a modular approach and designing components to fit budgets for the needs of today while considering future needs allows HE&M Saw to design around the customers’ needs and budget. HE&M Saw’s extensive engineering team is able to evaluate and design a system to meet any need.