Güdel Inc.
A recent install of two Inovatech SteelPRO 600 3D Robotic Beam Lines.

Heavy Metal Cutting Tables

Nov. 5, 2020
Inovatech, Güdel boost metal-cutting production by 400 percent.

When Miguel Clement looked at how metal fabricators cut the I beams, tubes, and flats that are the hardened bones of skyscrapers and supertankers, he was more than a little surprised.

While most modern industries were widely adopting automation, heavy steel fabricators were not, which was particularly surprising considering the lack of skilled metal fabricators. And when fabricators did leverage automation, they usually relied on a cobbled-together solution that used the cheapest possible parts and guaranteed uptime until just past the warranty.

Inovatech Engineering Corp., maker of integrated robotic solutions for manufacturing, produces some of the industry’s finest 2D and 3D metal-cutting tables as part of its SteelPRO line. “When it comes to cutting tables, most integrators have made them on the fly to meet specific customer requests, using the cheapest components available,” said Clement, president of Inovatech. “But not us. Our SteelPRO line of 2D and 3D cutting tables uses FANUC machine vision–guided robots armed with the most powerful Hypertherm XPR300 plasma cutter and motion control systems from Güdel to provide the four-side, bevel-cut capability and more that comes with each SteelPRO unit.”

Güdel’s engineers regularly work with customers to choose the perfect gearbox, rack, and pinion from their extensive catalog of precision mechanical components for motion control and power conversion. The perfect matched component set for cutting applications, for example, translates to minimal maintenance, maximum uptime and throughput, and best-in-class performance, while simplifying spare part stocks. With Güdel’s global reach, engineering support and replacement parts are never far away.

"Inovatech’s key to success was dependent on choosing channel partners and suppliers from the beginning,” said Clement. “Güdel has been a key part of our success because of the constant quality of the linear motion components and more importantly the support that Inovatech receives from the engineering and management team at Güdel." When modern production lines can lose $10,000 a minute, using the best components available just makes sense, Clement added. But what he didn’t fully realize was how SteelPRO’s use of modern automation tools would boost a fabricator’s production.

For example, because of machine vision—industrial cameras connected to PCs running specialized image processing software—and other software improvements, Inovatech’s Async control software program is 40% faster today than it was during its introduction just a few years ago. And while that’s significant, the benefits of using an automated cutting table made of today’s finest automation components translates to 400% more productivity for Inovatech’s customers.

“At our first install, it took an experienced technician 6.2 hours to cut one ton of material,” said Clement. “After the install, the one ton of steel took 1.6 hours, for a 400%  throughput improvement.” Another small fabricator was billing $2 million in contracts per year, Clement added. After installing a SteelPRO 1000, the company invoiced $6.4 million in nine months.

Inovatech released its newest addition to the SteelPRO line, the SteelPRO 700 earlier this year. Using the same best-in-class components as the SteelPRO 600, 900, and 1000 3D steel-cutting machines, the SteelPRO 700 will bring the same high-quality, high-throughput processing to the 2D cutting-table market that Inovatech used to remake the 3D cutting-table market.

“We’re proud to build machines that continually improve—as shown by our latest update, the Async control program for the SteelPRO line,” concluded Clement. “The 2D table line represents a 2,000% larger market than the 3D cutting table markets that we’ve served in recent years. We’re looking forward to showing off the new system to a market that’s ready for innovation. With the SteelPRO systems, fabricators can task their most skilled tradespeople the hardest projects, confident that our solutions can handle the through cuts, bevels, and plate processing that doesn't demand the highest cutting skill set.”