Keeping up with technological advances is enabling steel industry engineering services provider Steel Services & Allied Industries (SS & AI) to “cut overhead costs and reduce the handling of materials throughout the fabrication process”, says MD Lawrence Bartlett.
SS & AI, which is a member of steel industry association the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction, comprises Steel Services, Steel Trading, Crane Corporation, Ventilation Support Systems, John Richards Engineering and Avron Properties. The organisation operates from a 15 000 m2 facility in Carletonville, Gauteng, and also has facilities in North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
“With the introduction of a roller-feed materials handling system last year, we managed to increase the use of our internal shop space. This investment gives us an incomparable efficiency advantage that saves time and money for our clients,” adds Bartlett.
The roller-feed materials handling system helps with the materials handling of structural sections involving beams, channels, angles, square and/or rectangular tubes, flat bar drilling machines, coping machines, layout marking machines, band saws and thermal processors.
“The system helps with achieving a streamlined material feed into the production system and with expediting the removal of completed parts after production. This is beneficial, as the need to manually move parts around is eliminated.”
Bartlett notes that automation keeps the organisation at the forefront of technology and also makes it a leader in productivity, which enables it to be in an ideal position to meet clients’ needs.
SS & AI also invested significantly in equipment from steel industry machinery supplier Peddinghaus. “Peddinghaus is the leader in the industry’s high-speed drilling technology. We have automated our manufacturing process with a number of equipment from the supplier.”
The equipment, bought in 2012, is designed to process structural angle, flat stock and channel. The punch assembly rotates around the X-axis and is capable of consecutively punching holes into either the leg of the angle and into the web of the channel. The punch can be programmed for any selected punch or combination of punches to produce holes at desired locations, says Bartlett.
“The double-cut shear has modular tooling to cut the angle or flat stock to the desired lengths. The machine comes with a unique Signoplate marking system that ensures each part that is being worked on is individually identified.”
The high-speed drilling machine is designed for drilling and marking structural beams, flat stock, channel, rectangular tubing and angle. The machine consists of three drilling axes, with one spindle per axis. Each drill spindle has a five-station automatic tool changer that supplies the drill spindle with the required tools.
The drill spindles can be programmed for any selected drill or drill combination to produce holes or layout marks at the desired locations. “The roller-feed drive mechanism allows for maximum use of material, as you can programme the machine to process material from lead to trailing edge,” says Bartlett.
He adds that the company also bought equipment that is used to fabricate parts from flat plate. This machinery comprises a single spindle with an eight-position automatic tool changer for hole making, as well as plasma and oxyfuel torches for burning part profiles. The machine is programmed to automatically fabricate parts from the plate.