Plasma cutter cuts downtime

The first CNC plasma cutter brought into Australia for Aus iron industries has produced unexpected benefits as well as considerable time and cost savings. Keith Watts writes.

Headquarted in South Dandenong, Aus Iron Industries supplies, fabricates and installs structural steel projects for the construc tion, building, power and mining industries.

The company manages a wide client base and recent major projects include the new AAMI Park stadium, the Melbourne Airport extension and a 65,000- square-metre distribution centre for K-Mart.

Over the last few years, Aus Iron Industries managing direc tor, Danny Morino, felt the com pany was subcontracting out so many plate processing jobs that it was starting to lose control over its workload.

Morino addressed the problem by making the major decision to import the first CNC Plasma Cutter (Model BPL-H) into Australia from Baykal in Turkey.

Aus Iron Industries had been dealing with Baykal’s Australian distributor, Hare & Forbes, for over 12 years and had bought Baykal presses and guillotines previously.

“We have enjoyed remarkable service and excellent advice from Hare & Forbes, particularly their sales manager, Steve Calderone,” said Morino.

“I was happy with the Baykal products so I visited the Baykal factory in Turkey. I was impressed with what I saw and gave Hare & Forbes the go ahead to bring the CNC Plasma Cutter into Australia for me.”

Morino chose the plasma cutter over a laser cutter as it suited his company’s type of work, which includes column base plates, haunches and general plate parts.

A plasma cutter is ideal for heavy plate work which doesn’t require a really fine finish and the capital and running costs are a lot less than a laser machine.

The plasma cutter was in the region of $250,000, whereas a laser cutter would have cost well over $1 million. Also, the laser table would not be as big as the plasma.

The Baykal CNC Plasma Cutter features a three-by-ten- metre table and is capable of plasma cutting up to 63mm thick and oxy up to 200mm plate.

Aus Iron Industries operations manager, Robert Hade, was impressed with the speed of installation.

“The set-up time was short and efficient. It only took four days to put the machine together and we had it working productively within five days and it hasn’t stopped since,” he said.

“The installation costs includ ed the services of a technician from Baykal who trained some of our key people in the operation and how the software works. Our people found the programming and the operation to be user friendly and straight forward.”

Prior to installing the plasma cutter Aus Iron Industries had to outsource plate processing jobs. It was expensive and they had no control over the time which had the potential of compromising the clients’ time schedule.

“With the new machine that’s now all gone. We now control the time and the priority in our workshop. We don’t have to out source and by avoiding double handling and with lower costs it means that we maintain a com petitive edge,” said Hade.

Morino said: “If we can prove to our clients that we can do things in-house and can deliver on time or early then it’s an advantage. At the end of the day it’s time, cost and quality. Having the Baykal CNC Plasma Cutter has certainly improved our com petitiveness.”

An unexpected benefit was that the company founds it was able to cut staunches (a steel section split diagonally).

“This process was performed by steel merchants. Control of this process had always been on issue as it could take days and sometimes weeks to complete the process. Now, when I get the drawing and specifications from the engineer I can cut the job the next day. This came as a pleasant surprise,” said Morino.

Aus Iron Industries is now able to run the plasma cutter on a double shift when required. If anything goes amiss during cut ting in the absence of the opera tor, the machine has a built-in safety factor and simply shuts itself down.

Hade feels now the company has more control over its jobs it is able to expand its selection of work.

“We now have more security over what we do and we are con fident that we can deliver on time,” he said.