The saying, “do you want it done right or do you want it done today?” speaks to the importance of being exact while recognizing that exactness doesn’t always happen in a timely manner. In manufacturing where deadlines are as vital as precision, using the right measuring technology at the sawing station ensures both are covered.
In metal fabrication, the saw is often the first step in processing material. That piece of material could be one of many parts in an ongoing production process that includes everything from bending to welding and grinding. Making that first cut correctly is paramount to success in everything that happens afterward, because even the slightest deviation can result in downtime and an addition to the scrap pile.
Saw operators already have their hands full with choosing the right blade and selecting the proper feed and speed rates for each type of material, among many other things. Nailing all those important aspects doesn’t mean much, however, if the measurement is off and the material is cut incorrectly. Taking human error out of the process with a manual, semi-automatic or automatic stop can make all the difference.
While industries like aerospace and automotive stand out as spaces where nothing but the most accurate cuts will suffice, the truth is that accuracy counts no matter what is being cut and for which industry. Most parts need to fit together seamlessly and any deviation can lead to complete rejection of the part or time-consuming rework. At worst, a miscut that gets through quality control unnoticed will result in compromised structural integrity and potential failure, which could have wide-ranging implications.
Scott Olivier, cold saw production manager at Scotchman Industries, says when a saw operator has to make multiple adjustments and cuts to achieve the original desired length, the outcomes are rarely desirable.
“If the measurement is not correct,” he says, “the cut part may have to be reworked if it can be saved or scrapped, creating downtime in either case. There have been situations where a saw operator has cut large runs of parts and the entire batch is scrapped because they were not cut accurately. This can be avoided by using a quality measuring system set to the desired length.”
Scotchman, a North Dakota-based company known for its precision sawing machines and ironworkers, offers measuring solutions that take the guesswork (and the tape measure) out of the process. Olivier says Scotchman sells a variety of measuring solutions that fit an assortment of situations.
The trend toward automation is represented in virtually every part of the production process, but there are situations where full-on automated solution isn’t required and an analog approach to accurate measurements is appropriate. To that end, Scotchman offers the Quick-Loc stop system – a manual length positioner featuring a patented Loc-Stop system manufactured with high-quality stainless steel.
The teeth on the stainless steel stop align to the teeth on the positioner, giving exact measurements as small as 1/16 in. Saw operators can set up the system in seconds and have the material precisely locked in and ready to cut. Another manual positioner, the Multi-Loc, also uses the Loc-Stop system, but has three standard stops as close as 1 in. apart and heavy-duty stops as close a 1.5 in. Apart.
When a programmable solution is in order, operators also get access to a pusher system that automatically advances material. Such is the case with the RG (Razor Gauge) Digital Stop/Pusher system that can be utilized as a semi-automatic push/feed system utilizing Windows-based technology with 17-in. touchscreen controls. Mounted to feed left or right of the cut area, the system is available in lengths from 8 ft. to 30 ft. It also features unlimited preset keys, list storage and electronic zero-point calibration. The steel-reinforced belt drive can move material from 1 in./sec. to 25 in./sec.
“The programmable Stop/Pusher system can be used as a go-to stop or as a push/feed system,” Olivier says. “It can be set to a specific length by entering a value in decimal or fraction units or programed to cut multiple cut lengths from cut lists that can be stored in files that can be downloaded to it. This system is available as a semi-automatic stop/pusher or offered as a fully automatic feed system on some of our saw models.”
Moving to more automated solutions, the RG Quick Stop turns a manual saw into a “part cutting workhorse.” Scotchman touts this entry-level digital length gauge as easy to use and calibrate, saving time and eliminating costly mistakes. The operator simply enters the desired cut lengths, presses go and the positioner moves the material to the correct place. Utilizing an Android control tablet, they can take advantage of preset “hot keys” and unlimited cut list storage.
To turn a semi-automatic saw into a fully automated production machine, the Advanced Feed System (AFS) basically eradicates setup time. The material is automatically moved into position, clamped in place and the saw cycles, leaving a burr-free, finished cut. Cut lists can be downloaded via built-in wireless networking or USB drive. Operators can also go to semi-automatic mode for miter cutting with this system. The automatic sequencing considers blade kerf for more accurate measuring.
“When using any of the Scotchman measuring systems,” Olivier says, “the setup is quick and easy. The first cut will be accurate, eliminating wasted time and scrap.”