Tech Tip: From Stand Alone Machines to Automated Systems

Thinking of taking the leap in productivity from stand-alone machines to automated systems? There are a few things you need to keep in mind as you strategize how best to move forward.

The first thing I discuss with operators is flow. I want to figure out where the raw materials are coming in, where they are stored, and where they are going once they come off the machine. In a lot of situations, the material flow determines where and how the laser will be set up.

Once the flow is identified and an efficient plan is in place, we begin to assess the materials. The materials to be cut will be dictated by the laser, but you have to make a library of the different materials and blank sizes that you’re running, and put that into the software. Maybe it’s not the first thing you do, but it has to be in the back of your mind.

Installation parameters constitute the real meat and potatoes of automating any facility—there are a lot of details to consider. Luckily, Mitsubishi Laser details everything you can expect in a pre-installation book, and I will personally attend most installation planning. I prefer to meet face to face with a contractor to ensure nothing is lost in translation. We cover everything down to utilities, including air and power. You might not think of it, but it takes a lot of air—in the form of vacuum pressure—to move, lift, and drop metal workpieces. And you have to remember—the towers are tall. Considerations include heat sources that you need to avoid and HVAC in general, not to mention sprinkler systems and gas lines. There are a lot of considerations when automating, but there’s nothing we haven’t thought of or experienced already.