Maximising Business Efficiency with Laser Cutting Automation Solutions

October 17, 2023

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As businesses in the manufacturing sector continually strive to enhance productivity, reduce waste, and improve outputs, embracing advanced automation technologies within laser cutting processes is becoming increasingly invaluable. Koenig Machinery is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art laser cutting systems, as well as the specialist knowledge, training, and support services necessary to help business owners streamline their manufacturing capabilities.

Automation in laser cutting consists of incorporating computerised systems and robotics to achieve faster material handling, reduced material waste, and increased safety within the production environment. When integrated with advanced laser cutting machines, automation systems can significantly reduce production times, enhance product quality, and ultimately deliver increased cost savings. Businesses across various industries, including automotive, aerospace, electronics, and metal fabrication, can reap the benefits of automated laser cutting processes to surpass competitors and remain at the forefront of their respective markets.

Throughout this guide, we will delve into the world of laser cutting automation by examining various automation solutions, such as material handling systems, conveyor belts, and robotic arms, as well as advanced software for programming laser cutting paths. We will also explore best practice methodologies for implementing these systems to ensure seamless operation within your manufacturing environment. Join us as we uncover the immense potential of combining laser-cutting technology with automation solutions, empowering you to elevate your business performance and position yourself for sustainable success.

 

Does Automation Make Sense for Our Company?

Labor is expensive, robots are expensive, automation can be expensive. You will need to ask do the products in your production fit with automation in mind.

Factors that have the greatest influence on what choice makes sense for your business includes, batch or small run processing?, your available space?, your laser power in comparison to your material used.

For example; a fabricator with a 12kw fiber laser processing thin material cannot load and unload faster than the machine can process, lowering its actual cutting time per hour. By introducing a loader you shorten this time. However an analysis of what is processed per shift it might be more cost effective to have two machine in a lower KW (ergo lower price) which can process more.

In this instance a gantry loader and off loader with two machines might be more productive.

 

Jib Crane

With a fiber laser, you have several options in regards to automation. A standard lifter that the operator will use to move the new sheet onto the fiber laser bed. Ussally with a vacuum pod or magnetic hook. The off cut or skeleton that’s left after cutting is removed by hand.

Pros: faster loading, small foot print, lower investment, faster compared to using a forklift or hand loading of sheets. Lower investment. Generally seen as a convenient fast solution

Cons: Still requires the operator to operate, load and hand off load. Requires manual relocating of pallets of materials. No integration with the machine controller required.

Attracted Customer: Someone looking to speed up loading with a lower invested. A customer that processes different materials throughout the work shift: 1.2mm stainless – 10mm mild steel – 3mm bit of aluminum. A customer that utilizes offcuts regularly.

 

Automatic Gantry

An automatic gantry running over your fiber laser exchange table that will pick up your new sheet from a pallet and place it onto the exchange table. The same gantry can be used to pick up with offcut skeleton from underneath and place it onto a separate pallet.

Pros: Good productivity improvements in relation to loading and off loading. Easy for the operator to change over material pallets quickly. Potential to leave processing large batches with limited operator monitoring.

Cons: Processing one pallet of material at a time. Requires operator to move material. More difficult to load one sheet for fast processing. Requires a larger foot print around the machine

Attracted Customers: This system makes sense for companies processing lots sheets of the same material. Customers looking for lower operator monitoring or overnight processing. This system can also be integrated with multiple fiber laser cutters.

 

Automatic Gantry with Tower Stacker

With the use of a gantry lifter/ off loader with a tower storage set up, productivity and labor requirements drop dramatically. This system is the most complex but has huge advantages if your production line meets its requirements.

Pros: This kind of system can be integrated into your machine. Meaning once a sheet has finished processing it will exchange the table and start the next sheet. While this is happening the loader will remove the skeleton and load the new sheet. Cost advantages and productivity savings are fast to realize.

Cons: Large investment, large foot print. Slower than other loading options when changing sheets often. Requires large amounts of materials in its inventory. A major disadvantage can be the fiber laser cutter takes much longer to load than it can take to cut. On the other side depending on your laser power and material it can take longer to cut than your loader will take to load/ off load. Loosing all cost advantages

Attracted Customers: Customers processing large batches of the same product. Customers processing large numbers of sheets per shift. Less small components and more larger components. Cabinet production for example, less linear meters of cut per sheet but lots of sheets, meaning more sheet turn over.

 

Enhancing Your Business Operations with Laser Cutting Automation

1. Boosted Throughput and Productivity: Automation systems work harmoniously with laser cutting machines to improve material handling, part sorting, and processing speeds. The combined efficiency gains significantly increase throughput and diminish production times, enabling businesses to fulfil larger order volumes and meet customer demands more effectively.

2. Cost Reduction and Resource Optimisation: By minimising manual labour and reducing material waste associated with cutting errors, businesses can achieve considerable cost savings when integrating laser-cutting automation solutions. The enhanced productivity gained through automation frees up personnel, allowing them to focus on value-adding tasks and driving overall business performance.

3. Improved Workplace Safety: Implementing automation systems like automatic loaders can substantially improve workplace safety by performing tasks that may be hazardous or repetitive for human operators. In doing so, these systems eliminate the risk of injuries and accidents, contributing to a safer and more efficient working environment.

4. Consistent Quality and Precision: Automated laser cutting solutions ensure that components are cut and processed with exceptional precision and uniformity. The ability to adjust cutting parameters in real-time guarantees that the final products meet predefined specifications and quality standards, leading to increased customer satisfaction and business reputation.

 

Choosing the Right Automation Solutions for Your Business

When selecting the appropriate laser-cutting automation systems for your business, it is essential to assess your specific needs and manufacturing objectives. Consider factors such as material types, production volumes, and available space, as well as budgetary constraints, when identifying the most suitable solutions. Collaborating with industry experts like Koenig Machinery will provide invaluable guidance and support, setting your business toward successful automation integration.

 

Final Thoughts

Integrating laser-cutting automation solutions can profoundly impact your business, positioning you for success in an increasingly competitive manufacturing landscape. As we have seen, automation systems like material handling systems, conveyor belts, robotic arms, and advanced software offer an array of benefits that include increased productivity, cost savings, improved safety, and enhanced product quality.

Koenig Machinery is committed to providing cutting-edge laser cutting machines and automation solutions, expert advice, training, and ongoing support to ensure your business thrives in today's dynamic market. Embrace the future of manufacturing with laser cutting automation and elevate your business to new heights.


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