Wednesday | 09 April, 2014 | 12:30 pm

Peace of mind precision

By Gretchen Salois

Above: The 130GL has a maximum capacity of 4.3 inches square and 5.1 inches OD.

With so much at stake, these shops have found technology that gets it right the first time

March 2014 - Whether cutting the components that will reinforce the foundation of a home or business, or the pieces that keep a car engine stable and in place, a saw is expected to produce parts that meet quality as well as safety standards for manufacturers and end users.

Before the frame of a building is built or character-giving trim and panels applied, the foundation of any structure is of utmost importance. The math and physics behind an architectural design rely upon the foundation’s ability to withstand the weight of the building. At Ram Jack Systems Distribution LLC, headquartered in Ada, Okla., with 54 franchises throughout North, Central and South America, foundation integrity is the company’s bread and butter. When looking for a new saw to help cut the bar used in its foundations, the company did its research. 

“There are lots of saws out there and just because someone says their saw is better isn’t good enough,” says Mike Pinley, president of Ram Jack. The company came upon Edinburgh, Ind.-based Tsune America LLC but wanted to see firsthand how well Tsune’s offerings fared. “We went down to the place we get bar from and we asked how they liked theirs and watched it in action. That’s what sold us.”


Slicing steel

Cutting all carbon steel products, Pinley says Ram Jack liked the Tsune 130GL CNC automatic steel-cutting saw with gearbox and 120 rpm maximum.

“We go from 2 inches and 2 inches diameter up to 3.5 inches in diameter for solid carbon steel and 1 5⁄8 inches for 1⁄4-inch-thick material up to 4.5 inches OD that is 7⁄16 inch thick,” Pinley says. “We also figured out a way to cut some flat bar and some 3⁄4-inch-thick bar that is 2 inches wide—the Tsune cuts through it like butter.”

The saw needs to cut various thicknesses in a timely manner as Ram Jack customers expect two-day to three-day turnaround on orders. Ram Jack keeps some inventory on hand, since it does have some commonality, in order to meet those turnaround expectations. “We change out jobs on the saw three to four times daily. We never know what kind of orders are going to come in on any given day. Even if we had to changeover 10 times a day, it would be quick.”

Quick is key and Pinley says since switching to the TK 130GL from its previous band saw, productivity has quadrupled. Purchased in December 2012, the saw has already paid for itself. “With orders coming in we decided it was time to get another leg up on the competition and this saw is just so much faster than what we were using before,” Pinley says. “It’s a top-notch saw.” 

Before, Pinley says, the band saw required an operator to hand-feed material. “The Tsune has a bundle attachment that you can take and dump into a hopper, set it up and walk away,” he says. “You don’t even have to be there to watch it cut. We have another operation set up right beside it so the operator can jump on that. With the band saw, an operator had to watch it constantly. Our manpower is a whole lot more efficient.” 

The 130GL has a maximum capacity of 4.3 inches square and 5.1 inches OD. “Having more capacity allows customers to know that for example, when cutting 2-inch square tubing, they know they can cut more than one at a time,” says Tom Billington, sales manager at Tsune. “With the Tsune we can cut 2-inch by 2-inch square, two at a time and side by side, resulting in a rectangle shape that would be 2 inches high by 4 inches wide. We can have 2-inch by 3-inch parts cut side-by-side that are 3 inches tall and 4 inches wide—that’s a big advantage in the U.S. market.”

The 130GL also has the industry’s shortest remnant, says Billington. “When you get to the end of a bar or tube, there is a standard 2.2 inches left over. However, with the Tsune, depending on the bar end condition, or how good the back of the bar is, the machine can be programmed down to a 1-inch remnant—no one else can do that,” Billington says.


Aluminum applications

Tsune’s abilities don’t stop at steel, as Sapa Extrusions, with North American headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., uses the 150GL CNC to cut aluminum extrusions, primarily for the automotive sector. “This saw has been great for us for the high precision work we do on a daily basis,” says Mike Zajac, engineering manager at Sapa’s Kalamazoo, Mich., operation. “A lot of the parts we cut are for anti-vibratory systems and the additional processing our end customer does requires tight tolerances on the aluminum shapes they are using.”

The anti-vibratory components are an important part of the vehicle because they keep components like the engine from vibrating when running. “For instance, if engine vibrations are not dampened, that can cause problems for the vehicle and cause other parts to fail,” Zajac says. “We also use the 150GL to cut other vehicle components like brackets. We have customers that need brackets because it is part of their assembly. We get an edge over the competition in that we can hold tight tolerances.” 

Sapa is also cutting more structural parts as the move to lightweight vehicles has led car companies to swap steel for aluminum for some parts. “We’re providing structural parts like parts of the frame, the front and rear end components,” Zajac says. “For example, we use crush cans for impact resistance, a kind of hollow shape that’s used to support the bumper in case of impact. The front and backs of cars are intended to cushion the impact in the event of a crash.”

Tsune’s saws were cost effective for Sapa. “We made sure they could do what they said they could do and we asked around to see what others thought,” Zajac says. The saw automatically moves cut pieces and places trim cuts into a scrap bin. “Meanwhile, the saw never stops cutting; it’s all very automated.”

The ability to change the length of a part while in process is very similar to a machining center. “So if for the next part the operator wants to adjust the length, there is no need to stop the machine,” Billington says.

Scrap control is a nice benefit in addition to the finish achieved by the saw. “The saw itself leaves very little burr and has helped us reduce some of our deburring operations,” Zajac says. It allows Sapa to keep many burrs within what the customer will accept, which eliminates a lot of secondary processing otherwise needed to get rid of burrs.

Tsune’s thin blade allows for large capacity cutting. “The blade Sapa is using has a 6-inch square capacity on the machine, and a 6.375 OD,” Billington says. The 150GL uses a thin blade which is 0.106 inch thick and competitors in that same capacity would need a blade at least double that thickness, he says.

One other unique quality to Tsune’s saws is the company manufacturers all the blades used in its machines. “We make the saws ourselves as well as the blades so if there’s an issue, a customer doesn’t have to go back to the blade guy—with us it’s a one-stop-shop,” Billington says.

Demand is up and Sapa has been awarded some new business—all the more reason to make the capital investment in a more efficient cutting method. “In fact we’ve got another Tsune 150GL order in process right now,” Zajac says. 

As more automotive customers make the shift to tighter tolerances, Zajac adds, Sapa’s ability to meet tighter tolerance standards has given them an edge when acquiring new business. “We’re hitting the cycle times we need to hit so that’s been great for us,” Zajac says. “We’ve been able to increase our saw capacity without upping labor costs.” MM


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