Automated sawing technologies have largely removed human error from the manufacturing mix. All an operator has to do is step up to the saw, input the cut parameters and hit the go button. But what happens when multiple operators are on a job entering information that turns out to be inconsistent from one operator to the next? Suddenly, the human error component is reintroduced to the automated process and the outcomes are far from desirable.
From variances in cut parameters to complete failures, anything is possible when multiple operators enter information. To combat the problem, a team of engineers at Cosen Saws developed the company’s new Q-Cut software and barcode scanner solution, which delivers a quick, easy and accurate way to correctly and automatically input data based on the job, rather than rely on multiple operators manually inputting the data.
Arjun Patel, marketing specialist at Cosen Saws, says the “Q” in Q-Cut stands for quick, as in quick scan and quick input. The squad of engineers at Cosen responsible for its development are part of Cosen’s Mechalogix team, which developed Mechalogix as a lean manufacturing solution that provides insights into how a saw is operating.
Patel, offering a quick overview of Mechalogix, says it’s part of Cosen’s Industry 4.0 development efforts.
“Mechalogix includes machine monitoring, saw blade monitoring, utilization reporting, etc.,” Patel says, “all captured in real time in the cloud. In conjunction with developing the Mechalogix technology, we also looked at other ways manufacturers could improve their efficiency and came up with Q-Cut as one of those solutions.”
To get a better idea of how inefficient manually inputting information is for saw operators, Patel says to imagine going to the grocery store and instead of the cashier scanning the items at checkout, they manually enter the barcode number for each of them.
“Not only is this inconvenient and time consuming,” he says, “but it’s also guaranteed that at least one of the items will be entered wrong. Not only is Q-Cut the most efficient way to streamline the process, but it also saves time and money in the long run by not having to deal with any faulty cuts due to entering the wrong information.”
Q-Cut is designed for user-friendly operation with a dashboard that is easy to navigate. From the dashboard, job orders are generated and the operator can select job parameters. Next, a QR code is assigned to each job that will automatically input the information.
“This is typically based on the material, type of cut and the number of cuts required,” Patel says. “The system assigns a QR
code to the work order, which can be scanned into the saw’s computer rather than having an operator manually input the specifications.”
The browser-based software is extremely user friendly and eliminates mistakes and tedious parameterization, Patel says, taking all the guesswork out of material cutting specifications. Now, instead of manually inputting data on the saw’s human-machine interface (HMI), everything is done with a simple scan, which makes it easier to remain consistent and efficient. Once the operator scans the QR code for the job into the saw’s computer, all the preset parameters are loaded and visible on the HMI screen.
“Q-Cut can also be integrated into the customers’ existing ERP to make workflow easier,” Patel says. “That is essential to the convenience factor of Q-Cut, as it allows you to have an easy setup process and still be able to use your existing technology alongside your new technology.”
Many of Cosen’s customers operating steel service centers cut a variety of materials and they choose to use Q-Cut technology on their automatic saws to save time.
“It prevents the possibility of inputting incorrect lengths, which could waste an entire length of material,” Patel says. “It is totally unacceptable to input the wrong lengths, especially for expensive material that you have to get right the first time. Q-Cut allows businesses to not have to worry about operator error, especially when switching material or switching shifts between operators. By pairing the QR codes to the work order, it makes cut lengths and quantities easily accessible for those creating the orders and working with the machine.”
Patel says the most common takeaway from users is that Q-Cut reduces cutting error and speeds up the job input process. He cites Matt Christel, a tool and die product manager at Superior Die & Steel, who said the software and barcode scanner was a game changer for the company.
“We’re approaching production sawing and cutting as being as hands off as it can be,” he says. “Human error does take place when programming machines. Having to go back and manually type things in costs time and ultimately money. So, we looked at it as being a major efficiency to be able to create our QR code offline, which has our set programs. You scan it and go. That’s really simplified the process for us, especially being an upstart. We just needed to have that initial automation to be able to jump into it.”
For customers using Cosen’s higher end CNC model saws, such as the models that use ballscrew feed systems, Patel says they are utilizing the cloud-based Mechalogix technology, but when coupled with Q-Cut, they get the maximum benefit from aggregating cutting data.
“A scan of the QR code that feeds in how the material type is going to be cut prompts the Mechalogix technology to provide a suggestion of proper cutting parameters based on tens of thousands of hours of cutting data we receive,” Patel says. “This is not only during the initial research phase, but also an aggregate of data from all of our customers that currently utilize the Mechalogix cloud technology. Based on the data we’ve received on all the different material types and saw blades used, the machine provides the optimal parameters for cutting to the customer.”