Our 10KW Fiber Laser & Automated Tower System
After months of planning, measuring and a big company investment, we have our 10KW Fiber Laser with automated tower system working.
Plans were first submitted in early January 2018 with the growth of the company and environmental benefits as the main driving force. A large investment was made with Bystronic to purchase a new 3000x1500 ByFiber 10KW laser with an automated tower system and also an additional upgrade to our existing Nitrogen generator. We have now had the machine for just over a year.
New N2 Generator
Just before Christmas 2018 we upgraded our Nitrogen generator to a Nitrocube F90 which, with low energy consumption, uses 0.86KW to produce 1m³ of super high purity (99.9999%) nitrogen. The 300 bar out pressure will also help with cut quality & has enabled us to cut carbon steel with an oxide free edge. This means we are now able to keep ahead with production while also giving us higher pressure N2.
Mezzanine floor + New Machine installed
To save space for potential future investments, a mezzanine floor was built to go above the machine to save space on the shop floor.
Our new machine was then installed in front of the machine that was to be removed. Light guards + protectors were also installed. As soon as the machine was commissioned we started to use it, despite not having any loading system for it. Training was then done on the new machine with samples being cut and quality tested.
New machine time lapse 1
New machine time lapse 2
New machine time lapse 3
Old Bystar removed
Our old ByStar 6kw was removed from our factory and sent to Switzerland to be refurbished and sold on. We also moved many of our existing steel racking to make more space and allow room for the tower system.
New electric board
Our existing power supply board had to be updated during the following months to ensure we could power everything safely. We had new control panels and increased circuit breaker size to allow for safe uninterrupted power supply during machine upgrade and tower installation.
Reinforcing of the factory floor
The tower material racking system can hold up to 180 tonnes of steel. This meant we had to have our factory floor reinforced. This was the only real disruption in the factory during the whole process due to the noise and dust created.
In Jan 2019, the diggers came in and started to dig up the old floor of the factory to remove any big lumps of concrete and fill with hardcore.
The next process was 'Grouting' to fill the coal seam which would ensure the stability and strength of the floor meets health and safety regulations for the weight of the tower and steel. A Clemm drilling rig was used to drill down to approximately 26m (2m past the coal seam) then PFA, coal ash mixed with water and cement to make a grout, was pumped into the hole at pressure to fill any holes and cracks in the coal seam.
Finally came the piling which was very noisy! This was to add the deep foundations needed to strengthen the floor and add even weight distribution for the tower. The concrete was pumped into the columns before they were cut off and the neat top level of concrete was poured in to finish the job. Wooden slats were used to provide gulleys for the rails of the automated machine tables to fit into.
Tower System Installation
The Antil tower system installation started in June 2019. This took 3 weeks in total, keeping the machine running as best as we could around the work schedule.
The tower system, AWS9, is designed to manage warehousing of raw material and cut parts. These are both stored in cassettes in 4 adjoining towers, each able to stock 11 locations to a limit of 3T each. The elevator, which is equipped with a lifting system, is able to reach every position in the tower and extracts and inserts the cassettes when required by the machine. The empty cassettes are filled with raw material by the operators who then assigns said cassette with details and codes of the loaded material. The operator then calls for the material and the elevator will find the associated cassette to suit.
The load/unload robot, ACS9-FS, transfers the material from the cassette to the machine bed and then the cut parts back to empty cassettes for storage. This is done using forks which slide between the slats. The cassettes are filled after cutting with the customers required parts if the machine is not being manned by an operator.
The system is complete with a central control panel with a touch-screen terminal that manages all of the features. There are safety barriers and doors around the whole tower and also light rays which will interrupt the system if they get broken.
Training has been given on the tower and the new machine and this will be ongoing.
Benefits to the full investment
Significant environmental impact with electricity
More efficient / less down time
Producing our own Nitrogen
Enabling other machines to be used more efficiently
"As an environmentally aware business, we have a personal goal of reducing our power consumption by half, from 2 gigawatt hours to 1. This is the equivalent power to run 250 houses in the UK. The installation of the new machine and tower means we are already half way towards achieving this goal.”
Richard Andrews, Director
“Here at Midtherm Laser we are continually looking at ways to improve efficiencies and making a safer, cleaner working environment. Over the past few years we have made many, many minor changes so it is fantastic to invest in great new machinery and in staff proving that Midtherm Laser is a progressive forward thinking company".
Mark Hannon, General Manager
Midtherm Laser Ltd is continuously trying to move forward and invest in ways to grow and improve and we believe this is the way we can meet the needs of our customers and remain competitive in the market place.