Ascant four or five years ago, the industry standard in vertical miter bandsaws was 45 degrees left or right. Yet one by one, saw manufacturers have made engineering changes
at the behest of customers, taking the miter to 60 degrees, which has ultimately become the industry standard for vertical bandsaws.
Rick Arcaro, vice president of sales and marketing at Hydmech, says that one of the benefits of extending to 60 degrees is a reduction in secondary work.
“In years past, a saw cut finish was fantastic at 45 degrees,” he says. “But everybody had to cut 60-degree angles with a torch or a laser, which was much more expensive. Now with the ability to cut 60 degrees with the bandsaw, it eliminates the secondary operation of cleaning up the part.”
Hydmech has developed a 60-degree vertical bandsaw of its own – the V-18APC-60. It’s based on a 25-year-old design but with significant upgrades, including the program logic controller (PLC), bringing plenty of new advantages to the bandsaw.
The target market for the V-18APC-60 includes fabricators doing any type of building or structural work, such as the production of trusses that support roofs and bridges around the world. Trailer manufacturers, however, are also in that market as are steel service centers cutting structural steel, fence builders and defense/military contractors.
“We have a lot of service centers and other customers that cut solid material on it, as well,” Arcaro says. “It’s not limited to just structural steel. These machines will cut solid rounds, squares, castings and forgings all day long.”
Arcaro says that Hydmech customers have been asking for feedback data and storage retrieval and that the upgraded Mitsubishi FX5U PLC does just that. In doing so, the PLC fits comfortably in the Internet of Things (IoT) pocket. As just one example, it now offers remote maintenance for increased security.
“Upper management can have certain access to the PLC that typically wouldn’t be given to a line worker,” he says. “When you get into offline diagnostics, you have the ability to work remotely on the machine, but it also includes security measures so your data is protected and won’t be susceptible to hacking.”
The PLC also has the ability to store programs, part numbers, customer names and customer drawings. Arcaro says the stored information will “continuously grow” as more work goes through it. This is an advantage because the more efficient a fabricator is with the first cut in a part, each following phase of production will, in turn, go smoother.
“You’re relying on a square, accurate, good finished product to go into the second phase of the operation,” he says. “In most cases, the person doing that operation is the least skilled in every manufacturing plant.”
This lack of skilled workers, which is hitting the manufacturing industry hard at the moment, is one of the primary reasons Hydmech has made the software so intuitive and the V-18APC-60 so easy to use. Arcaro notes how baffling it is that manufacturers will put a price tag on the work welders do in an hour or what machine centers charge per hour, but when it comes to making that first crucial cut on a raw piece of material, there seems to be a lack of concern.
“Most companies don’t put a price tag on cost per cut and ease of operation of the bandsaw,” he explains, “even though their whole business is centered around that.”
The V-18APC-60 comes with a blade chamber built to protect the blade. It’s designed for more efficient processing of a bundle or multiple parts. The blade chamber essentially separates the cut piece and the stock piece. It creates a pass-through gap, so when the blade travels back through the area that it cut, it doesn’t rub or drag on the part and it doesn’t distort or destroy the side of the cutting tool.
“Basically, it prolongs blade life and keeps you from jamming the blade into the cut piece,” Arcaro says.
One of the unique aspects of Hydmech machines is that they have instructions on the machine that spell out how to run it. Arcaro says that it’s designed for a person who “just got done sweeping the floor that can follow a five-step door chart and a simplistic programming door chart and become an operator relatively quick.”
The first door chart on the V-18APC-60 addresses feed rate, cutting pressure and blade speed. The second series of instructions tells the operator how to program the PLC.
“It’s very difficult to make a mistake,” he says, “because we tell you what series of controls to use to program that job.”
The V-18APC-60 utilizes a touchscreen control unit, but to avoid downtime should systems fail, operators can jump to a semi-automated control system using a keypad.
“We can rotate the head, and we can cut the parts in semi-automatic mode,” Arcaro says. “The saw isn’t going to go down if the touchscreen goes down, so it keeps the shop running during the repair process.”
Hydmech has always gone to market through distributor networks, which means the company trains dealers throughout the year on the products it sells and also offers factory service support through technicians in the United States and Canada.
“Our dealers are the front line people,” Arcaro says.
Other competitors, he says, sell factory direct or use factory warranty services, which means customers are at the mercy of what could be a limited-sized staff that could be booked up and unable to assist them in a timely manner.
“A bandsaw is only good if it’s running and making chips,” he says. “If it’s down and you’re waiting for a part or a technician to show up and that saw is the bottleneck of your business, you’re entire operation could be down.”
And rather than sell its machines at a low price and drill down on the accessories to make a profit, Hydmech makes standard on their saws what would be accessories to competitors. For example, a laser light and work lights are included as is a 5-hp variable frequency driver that adds more torque to drive the blade. There is also a hydraulic overhead bundling system for locking down parts as they’re being cut.
“You’re only as accurate as the part that’s clamped,” Arcaro says, adding that if a part is not securely clamped and there is a bow in the middle, “your angles are not going to be accurate. We provide our machines with everything necessary to cut accurate parts quickly.”