Monday | 09 January, 2012 | 2:07 pm

Improving deliveries

By Modern Metals' staff

A custom-tailored, accurate, streamlined saw saves time and resources

December 2011- Yarde Metals, Southington, Conn., is a metal service center specializing in aluminum, stainless, carbon steel, brass and copper in a wide range of sizes. In addition to materials, the company offers customers a variety of processing services, focusing on quick turnarounds and fast deliveries. To increase its processing capabilities, the company recently invested in a Herr-Voss Stamco, Callery, Pa., leveling line as well as a new sheet precision saw from MetlSaw Systems, Benicia, Calif.

Ron Beaudet, manager of the sheet products division at Yarde, wanted to improve the company’s cut-to-size sheet production. Previously, Yarde used a MetlSaw nonferrous plate saw for its precision saw-cut material. This process worked well for the company, but the equipment was not designed specifically for thin sheet nonferrous material. To improve production rates, reduce production costs and have a saw that could meet Yarde’s specific requirements for production, Beaudet sought MetlSaw’s expertise.

A custom-made piece of equipment allows companies to tailor a system to their needs rather than select a product from an array of static choices. The collaborative effort included a visit from Doug Jamieson, sales and marketing manager at MetlSaw. After determining what Yarde was hoping to accomplish, Jamieson returned to MetlSaw and organized a design team to work with Yarde to develop the saw needed to cut Yarde’s nonferrous sheet metal. “From the beginning, the project was more like a partnership than a typical vendor/customer relationship,” Jamieson says. “Yarde had a specific design criteria, a lot of experience with MetlSaws (Yarde has been a MetlSaw customer for more than 20 years) and came to the table with numerous ideas improving on our current nonferrous plate saw design.” Jamieson adds MetlSaw believes a lot of its best ideas come “directly from customers.”

Beaudet along with Steve Young, sheet production planner at Yarde, came up with a list of requirements for MetlSaw. They wanted the saw to cut not only a single sheet of 0.020-inch nonferrous sheet but also to saw stacked sheet up to 8 inches tall. Regular nonferrous plate saws forced Yarde to sandwich material between two fiber boards to eliminate denting or marring of the sheet. MetlSaw’s standard backgauge included heavy duty casters, ideal for support and movement of aluminum plate but not ideal for thin-gauge sheet. Yarde also wanted to load a stack of sheet up to 8 inches with a forklift directly with minimal positioning or movement of the sheet once placed on the backgauge. The company’s current saws required stacking material one sheet at a time, which was time consuming.

Downtime was also a concern for the company, specifically during positioning of the saw blade to various saw widths of material. Once rectified, MetlSaw’s Auto Cycle program would reduce overall production time on every job. Yarde requested MetlSaw’s cut-off-saw-style clamping system, allowing for a unique dual-clamping system. The clamps do not have to retract fully after each cut while still providing optimal reliability—a major time saver.

Once completed, MetlSaw allows customers to pre-accept the equipment, allowing for complete setup and run-through prior to shipment. As part of this process, MetlSaw completely sets up the machine and runs through the steps at the factory so the customer can approve the saw for shipment. As a result, the company has obtained a 100 percent acceptance at the facility level. Once the saw has been shipped and operators have been trained, the saw is ready for day-to-day use. After two and a half years of design and four months of production, Beaudet accepted the saw. It was shipped to Yarde and installed, ready-to-use.

Piled with precision
By submitting a list of requirements and working through design challenges, MetlSaw was able to help Yarde improve its sawing processes while producing higher-quality results.

A challenge for MetlSaw was to design a backgauge bed that would support a single 0.020 inch sheet while simultaneously holding a large stack of material. After researching a number of options, MetlSaw used a multimotion roller design that is both simple and robust. The company had used this particular component on a saw approximately eight years ago for sawing lightweight, light-gauge honeycomb aluminum material. According to MetlSaw, by ganging up a large number of these rollers, the saw’s backgauge was able to fully support a single sheet of thin gauge sheet but was robust enough to also support a large stack, all with no damage or marring of the material. As a result, there was no need for fiberboard as a support component and the resulting aluminum chips were not contaminated with wood fiber. The chips exhausted were 100 percent aluminum.

By changing the position of the squaring fence from one side to the other and designing openings on the fence to allow the specific forklift to deliver and load the stacks of material directly onto the backgauge, the material then required minimal positioning before sawing.

Yarde also wanted the saw programmed to place the saw blade at numerous points along the cutting table to initiate sawing as soon as the material was loaded and clamped. This was done through the standard Rockwell Automation PLC used on all MetlSaw machines.

According to Beaudet, holding tighter tolerances cuts down on production time and improves the surface finish of cut material. “The combination of cutting into the squaring arm and clamping across the table provides a better cut and helps us hold tighter tolerances,” Beaudet says, adding the company now can turn out jobs with ±0.005-inch tolerance on cut pieces.

Switching the style of saw blade also has improved the surface finish of cut material, according to Beaudet. “We have switched from using a 20-inch, 100 tooth blade to a 20-inch blade that has 80 teeth,” he says. “This gives us a better finish with next to zero burr as a result.”

A more efficient sawing process leads to shorter production times, and Beaudet estimates between a 40 percent and 50 percent reduction in time needed to produce cut parts. According to MetlSaw, the company’s designed clamp does not retract fully after each cut, providing a reduced cycle time of up to 60 percent. In addition, the ability to use forklift load stacks, saw material without the use of fiberboard support and reduce clamp cycle time are all factors to a faster, better-produced final product.

MetlSaw has 35 years of experience in the industry designing saws for high production and high precision. Feedback from customers like Yarde helps the company improve on its product offerings. Ultimately, the interactive and collaborative relationship between MetlSaw and Yarde resulted in Yarde’s significant increase in production capabilities and a new product for MetlSaw. MM

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