Metal Cutting Automation

Stop what you’re doing and look out on the shop floor. Is that cutting equipment waiting to be loaded, to have parts removed, for the operator to come back from a break or waiting for the next program or nest? The truth is if you cut, burn, chip, or bend metal for a living there’s a lot of downtime associated with your metal processing operations. And if that machine isn’t machining and your workers aren’t working, then you’re losing revenue.  

Laser Cutting 

Let’s use laser cutting as an example. Automating a stand-alone laser with even a simple, entry-level load and unload system can increase a CO2 or Fiber laser’s productivity by at least 25%.   

Since most machines are now Factory 4.0 compliant, they likely accommodate machine monitoring.  Monitoring machine cutting efficiency and breaking it down by day, week, month and even shift helps to assess your overall productivity. It also provides insight into your automation requirements. 

Lights Out Manufacturing 

Implementing a fully automated “lights out” operation leverages automated nesting and scheduling software, material storage towers and river systems for tracking and storing different material types and thickness. In this way, high-volume fabricators have the ability for unattended overnight or weekend runs. This provides the added option to employ temporary workers to break out parts, while leveraging machine operators and other skilled resources to concentrate on more complex, high value, or billable tasks.  

Allow Machines to Set the Pace 

Today, like never before, the name of the game is to allow your investments (machines and people) to contribute where they will have the biggest impact. Leverage automation to let your machines set the productivity pace and put your skilled labor to work on billable, value-added tasks such as engineering, forming, welding, finishing, scheduling, production planning, marketing, process improvements, sales support and so on. 

In a manually driven shop, the laser finishes the job and sits idle waiting for workers to off-load cut parts, install new sheets of material, and initiate the cutting process. At any given time, there may be five to ten thousand pounds of raw materials and finished goods on the off-load carts or pallets waiting to be taken to a secondary operation. 

Even the fastest worker cannot keep pace with a fiber laser. Consequently, the machine can only work as fast as the worker allows; and every minute that a laser isn’t cutting is lost revenue.  This is why automation is needed. When the machine is free to load, cut and unload at its own pace, productivity increases exponentially. 

Leverage Your Assets 

Automation addresses the dilemma of every shop owner or production manager, finding, and keeping skilled employees and achieving the largest rate of return on their efforts. It allows shops to reallocate resources away from menial tasks to more productive duties thereby increasing the total production dollars generated per employee and per operation.  

Machines are programmed to perform tasks. They don’t take bathroom breaks, stop for lunch, or check their Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat profiles. The bottom line is this: manufacturing is all about turning out parts – and automation makes this happen. 




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