Monday | 30 April, 2012 | 1:42 pm

Keeping current

By Gretchen Salois

As material prices rise, reducing cutting costs and machine time is invaluable

April 2012- Each year, the team at Marmon/Keystone LLC, Butler, Pa., reviews proposed sawing equipment purchases. When Marmon/Keystone sat down to prepare for 2012, the company found it had to add additional saw cutting equipment or replace older machines to meet the growing needs of its customers. “We service a wide variety of industries: mining machinery, oil and gas, construction machinery, agriculture equipment, power generation, railroad transportation,” says Denny Derringer, vice president of quality and operations.

Marmon/Keystone uses sawing equipment from Amada Machine Tools America Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., throughout its system. “We have a number of different models, the PCSAW330, HFA530CNC, HFA250, HFA500, HFA700CII, PCSAW700, HA400W, HKB6050CNC and CMB150CNC circular cold saws,” Derringer says.

“The wide variety of equipment allows us to handle varying applications, bundle cutting, processing large-diameter cuts up to 28 inches diameter or orders requiring a large volume of cutting. The PC saws are fast, accurate and quiet,” he continues. “They utilize pulse cutting technology, which reduces blade vibration, enabling us to extend blade life, reducing blade costs and increasing the square inches cut per blade.”

According to Derringer, Marmon/Keystone noticed it was receiving orders requiring large numbers of cuts in the 4-inch to 6-inch diameter size range. “Once we saw that, we ended up purchasing the cold saws, the CMB150CNCs, which allow us to process large quantity cut orders quickly and efficiently,” he says. “This equipment enhances our ability to solicit these types of orders and meet tight delivery schedules.”

For shops churning out product for quick-turnaround delivery, it’s important for equipment to run faster while maintaining accuracy. Don Doran, national sales manager for Amada, likens the need to push equipment to the limit to driving faster to get to a destination, even if that means using more gas than if driving more conservatively.

A car may be most efficient running at 50 miles per hour, but if you’re late, you might drive at 70 miles per hour, Doran says. “Like the band saw blades, you need to get there faster, so you use more gas because it’s more important to get parts out that day as opposed to casually cutting through it and extending blade life.” With the pulse saw 330s and 700s, Marmon/Keystone is able to cut two, three, sometimes four times faster while achieving a similar blade life to cutting with a traditional band saw at a much slower rate, he says.

Technology simplifies training
“It is clear to steel companies that business activity has returned to the robust period similar to 2007 and 2008,” Doran says.

“These companies are given the responsibility of producing 30 percent to 40 percent more output, but they haven’t been authorized to hire other employees.

“Marmon/Keystone had to look at whether the capital equipment they had was sufficient or adequate and that any new equipment replacing aging or archaic models would not require additional people to operate,” Doran continues. Marmon/Keystone purchased some of Amada’s machines with technology that allows the blade to shut itself off should it begin to deviate.

“It will allow an operator to set the machine up and confidently walk away to perform other tasks with the confidence that, should something go wrong, that machine will stop before it wastes any material,” Doran adds.

Marmon/Keystone prefers equipment with CNC technology, touch-screen controls and memory to store order requirements. “Amada provides operator training at the time of installation and will perform follow-up training as required,” Derringer says. “The saws you work with today are not like the saws you may have worked with years ago. They are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and you have to train to keep up with it.”

Amada machines with CNC capabilities and advanced intelligence allow Marmon/Keystone to save resources elsewhere. Often, the saw operator is the last person hired, “the least-trained employee in the facility, and a lot of times, they don’t bring the knowledge of how to cut steel,” Doran says. “The CNC machines have material libraries where they are able to look up the material they have to cut and can tell the machine the size, whether 6-inch round or 10-inch square. They can hit the ‘go’ button and the machine will do the rest for them, maintain those positions so they can cut any steel or metal material without having the knowledge of which speeds and feeds will be most efficient, which will result in a longer blade life.”

Cost-effective follow up
Blade costs keep rising every year, Doran says. Increasing blade life by 20 percent and using less force is key to steel companies’ operations. “No one is looking more closely than steel service centers at every expense they have. They know tooling costs are the most difficult, so using more rigid, sophisticated machines can help them do more using less force and resources. They can achieve that without additional employees plus the added benefit of no higher tooling costs.”

Along with the technologically advanced software that enables Marmon/Keystone to prolong blade life, the company also appreciates Amada’s readiness to answer its questions.

“I can buy equipment from anybody, but you have to be able to service what you sell when the need arises,” Derringer says. “Quite honestly, their service sets them apart from others. It is critical that we receive a quick response in terms of service when required. If the saw isn’t cutting, we’re not processing orders or meeting our customers’ requirements.”

Marmon/Keystone and Amada have a planned PMP program, which is a preventative maintenance program for all its locations. “We have an Amada service tech visit each of our locations once a quarter. Once the visit is complete, the PMP forms are reviewed at the location and copies forwarded to the corporate office,” Derringer says, adding the company has established a partnership with Amada.

“That partnership extends to the president of Amada; I can pick up the phone and call him at any time. We visit at least once a year, reviewing what may be coming out in terms of new equipment, technological improvements, blade issues” and anything else the company needs its machines to provide, Derringer says. With new technology, businesses must be prepared to replace older equipment, he adds. Improved technology translates into increased productivity and the ability to provide closer-tolerance cuts to customers. “Increased productivity and improved customer service, that’s the name of the game,” Derringer says. MM

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