Tuesday | 11 January, 2011 | 8:58 am

Pulse-cutting pros

By Meghan Siroky

December 2010 - As the saying goes, time is money. William Clerihan, plant manager for Penn Stainless Products Inc., Quakertown, Pa., considers this saying a truism, especially within the realm of sawing technology.

The company purchased a PCSAW700 from Amada Machine Tools America Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., in 2006. In 2008, it added a PCSAW330. This year, it purchased two additional PCSAW330s. The cutting speed and accuracy levels are unmatched, and Clerihan says there isn’t anything else in the market comparable to Amada’s PC saw line, which increases blade life and saves the company on costs and time.

Radical cuts
"How fast does it cut? Both the PCSAW700 and PCSAW330 cut stainless steel approximately 40 percent faster than our other 12 conventional saws," says Clerihan. "We inventory a large amount of stainless steel bar in different grades, up to 24 inches in diameter. Because of the PC saws, we’re able to cut the material faster and get a quicker turnaround for our customer."

The PCSAW330’s pulse-cutting technology decreases cutting resistance while increasing blade life and cutting rates. This machine is capable of cutting up to 13-inch-diameter round or 13-inch-by-13-inch rectangular materials, according to a press release. A larger double-pulse cutting version, the PCSAW700, achieves maximum blade efficiency by reducing vibration and cutting resistance. It has a cutting capacity of up to 27.6-inch-diameter round or 31.5-inch-by-27.6-inch rectangular materials.

Don Doran, sales manager for Amada, breaks down the numbers. "Here in the U.S., it’s all about speed, speed, speed. That’s been the battle cry since I started back in the 80s.

"Currently with a conventional saw, you can expect to cut 304 stainless steel at 3 square inches to 8 square inches per minute. That’s as fast as you could cut. At the same time one could expect between 3,000 square inches and 8,000 square inches of blade life," says Doran. "With the Amada PCSAW Series, we’re able to cut a 12-inch round 304 stainless bar in less than four minutes as opposed to 40 minutes with 15,000 square inches to 25,000 square inches of blade life."

In addition to its quick pace, the PC saws don’t emit a whining sound like conventional saws. Clerihan says the Amada saws eliminate that high-pitched squeal. "Tool tipped vibration is the key to producing a quality cut finish and increasing tool life. Tool tip vibration causes extensive tool chipping, and chipped teeth produce an unacceptable surface finish," he says. "By controlling that vibration, the results increase tool life, improve surface finish and eliminate noise."

Employees will become more productive as a result of a much-less-stressful working environment, notes Doran. "When cutting metal, the blade generates harmonics. The function of metal on metal creates a vibration. That vibration manifests itself in a very obnoxious tone. It’s a whining squeal that you just can’t get away from," says Doran. "As a result, that vibration not only lessens the blade life that can be achieved--because vibration is death to a band saw blade--it creates a very difficult working environment. It also has the effect of slowing down the rate of cut you can make.

"Therefore, not only do we eliminate sound, we get a much faster cut that’s no less than four times faster, in many materials, than conventional and much longer blade life--all things that result in improved margins and faster, greater throughput, as well."

Reducing waste
Another benefit of the PC saw line is its back-gauge feature. Clerihan says the back-gauge feature and blade monitor allow the saws to operate unmonitored overnight. "It’s lights-out technology," he says. "It has increased productivity. It’s running unattended, which reduced labor costs."

He notes there have been no issues with the saws managing themselves. "If the blade isn’t running straight or true and it’s not cutting properly or if the blade is worn out, the machine senses that it’s not cutting straight, and it automatically goes into shutdown mode," Clerihan says. The system also has the capacity to call any phone number with notifications through a telephone monitoring system.

The back-gauge feature eliminates the extra trim cut step, Clerihan says. "The automatic trim cut devices give the operator the option [to decide] whether a trim cut is needed. Expensive setup times are reduced, which increases productivity," he says. In the past, every time Penn Stainless produced a new order, it would be required to trim cut to identify where zero is. The PC saws only require operators to trim cut once. Clerihan emphasizes the substantial impact it has on material use.

"With the new technology, the computer knows where the bar is. It senses it, so you’re not required to make a trim cut. It will automatically start advancing the material without having to make the cut to find out where zero is," Clerihan says.

"With the back-gauge features and other niceties on these machines, companies are not scrapping metal that they would have normally scrapped or sent back to recycle," notes Doran. "The back-gauge feature on our saw allows them to accurately and squarely cut pieces that are now too short to automatically feed through the machine."

Competitive streak
Penn Stainless Products’ employees are skeptical of how business survived before the company began using Amada machines. "They have questioned how we ever completed all the daily saw processing without the Amada saws," says Clerihan. "One of our saw operators asked us to purchase another PCSAW330, which we did. We have 12 conventional saws that are not Amada, and they run a lot slower."

Striving to increase productivity is paramount in order for a company to maintain competitiveness. "To that end, one of these machines can easily replace two of the band saws that they would normally need to purchase to achieve the same [result]," says Doran. "If I can do the same thing with one machine that your competitor is doing with three, then you’ve clearly gained an advantage over them."

Doran notes although the compact saws save on floor space, they can replace two to three conventional machines primarily because of their capabilities. The company is extremely satisfied with Amada’s products and customer service. "They have an excellent preventative maintenance program that has allowed us to operate with near-zero downtime," says Clerihan. Penn Stainless has purchased, but not yet installed, a new PCSAW330. Clerihan says the company is waiting to complete its 80,000-square-foot addition, scheduled to finish in December, before installing its new Amada saw.

"Like every successful service center, Penn Stainless Products is always looking for a competitive edge. Never has this industry experienced this level of increased blade life while simultaneously increasing cutting rates," says Clerihan. "Pulse cutting is designed to maximize productivity and blade performance by reducing vibration and cutting resistance. Pulse cutting is in a class of its own." MM

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