The major trend in steel construction globally is very much towards high-end automation driven by integrated software solutions, which has led to local industrial manufacturer and distributor First Cut embracing this trend through energy efficient capital equipment and consumables from their portfolio of international principals.
First Cut encourages its customer base to make the move to ‘smart’ manufacturing technology, where all equipment is linked by advanced information systems to optimise production and human resources. This is evident in their principal Swiss-based sheet processing systems provider Bystronic’s 10 kW fibre laser, which First Cut markets locally on their behalf.
“The laser is currently the world’s most advanced fibre laser. “It is controlled by Bystronic’s advanced ByVision software and supported by various automated ancillaries, which load and unload the fibre laser’s shuttle table,” says First Cut MD Andrew Poole.
He notes that this allows for long production runs with minimum supervision, and the lowest possible production costs, or cost-per-cut.
Bystronic emphasises the importance of automation ancillaries for competitive manufacturing, especially for those involved in sheet steel processing. “While it may take a little time for those influencing factors to manifest themselves in South Africa, through a company such as First Cut and the total cutting solutions we provide from Bystronic as well as our other leading international capital equipment and consumables principals or original equipment manufacturers, this advanced capability is available.”
Poole points out that automation also implicitly leads to energy efficiency, as this is a critical component of new technology. New fibre lasers, such as the Bystronic fibre laser, use one-third of the energy used by older carbon dioxide-powered lasers.
He says, in the past ten years, electricity costs have soared by 400%, a challenging increase, especially for a steel processing business.
“For any company involved in processing steel, electricity costs account for a large part of the monthly budget. If those costs can be reduced by a third, then that is a significant saving.”
First Cut supplies industry with a range of capital equipment and consumables involved in steel processing, an integral part of steel construction. Customers, in turn, use the products and solutions supplied by First Cut in major infrastructure projects, where large volumes of steel are used. Such projects include new power station projects, solar farm construction, State-owned rail utility Transnet’s new locomotive programme, as well as automotive, maritime construction and maintenance industries.