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Busy from Day One

Almost from the day the machine was brought up to speed by Premier’s production team, it’s been churning out parts for a solid shift five days/week. At that rate, Seemann calculates an efficient return on investment of around 3 yr. But, he expects that since the laser work has only been, so far, mostly for existing customers, as the firm’s marketing efforts begin to pay off new customers will eventually allow the addition of a second shift of laser cutting.

“We don’t see other shops in this area operating fiber-laser machines,” he says, “so we expect to quickly leverage a competitive advantage with our machine. That advantage comes since these machines, compared to CO2, consume less energy and require less maintenance.”

The firm’s competitive advantage also continues to grow as Premier’s staff climbs the learning curve and finds s to squeeze every ounce of productivity from its new machine. Knowing that such a learning curve often can take considerable time to navigate, we were excited to hear of a few notable nuggets of gold the company already has mined as it’s refined its procedures. Kaiser explains.

“We’re learning all the time, trying to cut faster than the charts say we should. And, another focus has been on reducing, or even eliminating, pierce times. For example, on one nested sheet of 8-gauge steel that we process often and which contains hundreds of holes, we fine-tuned the laser focal point and the assist-gas pressure and shaved pierce time from 8 sec. down to 3 sec. That alone trimmed 20 min. from the overall cycle time for the job.

“We’re also cutting thin-gauge sheet (0.071 in. or less) without piercing at all,” Kaiser continues. “On 16-gauge steel, for example, the laser originally was set up to cut at 280 in./min. After removing the pierce, as well as change nozzle style and, again, fine-tuning process parameters, we’re cutting 16 gauge at 1180 in./min.”

One last little efficiency nugget that’s helping quicken the laser’s payback period: Premier has requested that customers order parts in full-sheet quantities. “All of our jobs are quoted per sheet,” Seemann says, “so if a sheet nest can fit 10 parts, that’s the minimum order quantity. We avoid remnant issues—handling, storing, tracking etc.—and in most cases have been able to achieve 90-percent material utilization.”

What’s Next?

Continuing his look up the learning curve, Kaiser says the emphasis now has shifted to better-utilizing the Lantek software, more fine-tuning of the process-parameter database, and learning more about using common-line cutting.

“We’re also taking a look at our cell layout to optimize product flow (the laser shares space with three press brakes and a small mechanical press) and adjusting our preventive-maintenance schedule to avoid unplanned downtime.” MF
Industry-Related Terms: CNC Turret Press, CNC, Die, Forming, Gauge, LASER, Nugget, Piercing, Point, Thickness, Turret Press, Turret, Model
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Ermaksan, Lantek Systems Inc.

Technologies: Cutting, Fabrication


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