Operating At Volume

Speed and precision lead the way with a fully automated, easy-to-use sawing solution

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At first glance, the high-production, fully automated sawing machines on the market today would seem capable of something far more fanciful than just slicing through various types of metals to make parts of specific lengths. In reality, while the end result is parts coming off a cutting table, automatically sorted into collection bins, there is a lot of high-tech stuff going on to create those parts.

When speed and volume matter as much as extreme precision and maintaining consistent accuracy from the first cut of the day to the last, users adopt sawing solutions from companies employing forward-thinking designers and engineers capable of responding to unique customer needs. BLM GROUP has consistently provided fabricators with industry-leading saws, including for the last decade-plus, the CM602. This advanced, high-performance machine for cutting tubes and solid bars has a reputation going back more than a decade as a fully automatic solution for fabricators focused on accuracy and producing cut parts at volume.

The fully automated CM602 hitch-feed saw from BLM is built for high-volume manufacturers that require accuracy.

But does this advanced saw require an advanced degree to operate it at full efficiency?

“The novice operator can walk up to it and pretty much understand,” says Tim Robbins, business development manager at BLM GROUP. “Traditionally, once the saw is installed, operators are running parts within two days if not sooner. It’s a very user-friendly machine.”

But this ease of use, which is vital in manufacturing environments where the skills gap is only growing, doesn’t get in the way of advanced features that can improve blade life, cut quality and creating parts at volume.

Secondary considerations

For fabricators, the saw, whether it’s a hitch-feed saw like the CM602, a bandsaw or any cutting machine on the shop floor responsible for cutting raw material, is often the first step in the production process. The part coming off the saw might go through a dozen more steps on its journey to becoming a finished product. This means accuracy in this crucial first stage has an impact on every subsequent step. And this plays into the fact that fabricators are in a constant battle to reduce rework and scrap, as these are costly components of the production process that can be avoided by utilizing highly accurate sawing solutions.

The accuracy conversation can also morph into one about cut quality. For example, when welding is part of the production process, clean edges save a lot of time that would otherwise be dedicated to edge preparation, allowing the welding process to proceed free of burrs or rough edges. What is not often part of the conversation is getting those cuts made based on the weight of the post-cut part, but it’s certainly a top consideration for some manufacturers.

Robbins mentions the importance of accuracy by weight in production processes that involve presses used to mold material. If the material is underweight, he says, it won’t fill the mold and the part will likely end up in the scrap pile. If the material is overweight, it can break the mold. The CM602 includes programming that allows operators to dial in the cuts to the gram, thereby avoiding mistakes. The process involves weighing a cut part and inputting its size and weight into the saw’s interface, and then an algorithm is established.

The CM602 offers automated material handling, which allows for sorting two types of cut parts as well as scrap.

Victor Wooster, application engineer at BLM, adds that the CM602 then, “adjusts the cut length automatically so it’s the right gram weight … If they get a whole new bundle of material in, they might have to retest and reweigh it, but they typically don’t have to do that.”

Application driven

The CM602 isn’t the saw for every job. In fact, users have only a handful of options in cutting heads (the component of hitch saws that houses the saw blade) and the specifications of the saws are built around the cutting head choice. CM602 cutting heads are built to handle aluminum, brass alloys, standard steel and there is one for high-carbon (high-strength) steel.

The bulk of BLM’s customers that are a good fit for the CM602 are not looking for a Swiss Army knife-type of saw. Rather, Robbins says instead of cutting different material types throughout the day, they’re focused on one material being processed at high volume.

That doesn’t mean BLM is against custom modifications. Wooster says they recently built a CM602 for a customer that features a cutting head built to process aluminum and copper.

“That was an option that BLM came up for with this customer,” Wooster says, “which will now be available for anybody.”

Regardless of what type of material is being processed and what type of cutting head is installed, the CM602 differentiates itself from competitors, Robbins says, with fluid and simultaneous movement of parts in the saw, allowing users to pump out more parts. For example, as the cutting head moves away from the cut parts, the jaws holding the material are opening while new material is advancing into the cutting area. It might seem trivial, but when a saw is responsible for thousands of cuts per day, it adds up to meeting volume goals.

“Typically,” Robbins says, “our customers have high volumes and high accuracies – that’s where our customers will lean toward us instead of our competitors.”

Automated features

Where there are saws, there are chips. These metallic remnants of material created as saw blade teeth rip through metal deserve special attention, which wouldn’t seem to run true in production facilities where saws spit chips in all directions. But the CM602 is a fully enclosed unit, and on top of the blade not being exposed, BLM has also built in a chip management system that evacuates chips, which can improve cut quality and prolong blade life.

“We’ve got a secondary process where auxiliary equipment evacuates chips and keeps the cutting environment clean,” Robbins says. “When you’re doing that, you’re removing chips so you’re not recutting them.”

With the fully enclosed cutting table and chip evacuation system, shops utilizing the CM602 will have no mess to clean up.

Another “clean” aspect of the CM602’s automation is that the production area is also virtually free of lubricant/coolant. While the saw can be built with a flooding system per customer request, the micro-lubrication system, which applies drops of lubricant to blade’s teeth, keeping the mess to a minimum, is a standard feature on the CM602.

The micro-lube is one method of prolonging blade life, but Wooster says an even more advanced system is the “blade magazine,” which is a function operators can use to name each individual blade used in the saw, which helps them to track how many feet of material the blade has processed.

“I can keep track,” he says, “so after so much removed material, I am going to send my blade out for sharpening because I know if I run it longer, I run the risk of having poor cut quality or damaging the blade.”

Service advantages

Even the most advanced sawing machines require maintenance and a little TLC every now and then, and sometimes it takes a nuisance alarm, which with the CM602 is equipped, to bring light to an issue that needs immediate attention.

“There’s a full maintenance schedule that comes up electronically,” Wooster says. “That’s also covered in operator training, and if the company has a maintenance person, we’ll spend a few hours with them as well.”

Teleservice is another option for CM602 users, which allows BLM technicians to “remote in” to the saw and run diagnostics that help troubleshoot any issues that come up. Should a serious problem arise, a U.S.-based technician can make an onsite visit.

“I’d say 80 to 90 percent of the time it’s fixed over the phone,” Robbins says, “or by being logged in to the saw and finding instantaneous support that way.”

BLM GROUP

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