The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the metal fabrication industry, as mounting supply chain problems threaten shipping and production. Badger Sheet Metal Works continues to address these challenges head-on, managing costs and output by leveraging ingenuity. Among the solutions is one with a notably large impact: automation.
Automation is a term used often in metal fabrication that can mean different things. Its most basic definition within the industry is the use of technology applications where human input is minimized. At BSMW, this includes tasks such as lifting, loading and unloading material; welding; deburring; and polishing.
This article reviews the key reasons why automation helps BSMW solve safety challenges, improve quality, boost productivity, and empower its employees.
BSMW always addresses safety first and will never compromise this vital aspect of the job just to get more product out the door. In fact, safer operations translate to more efficient operations. The many automated machines and systems BSMW has implemented in the last few years increase throughput and prevent the kinds of employee strain and fatigue that contribute to workplace injuries and downtime.
Consistent Part Production and Quality
The need for rework because the first attempt was of poor quality is like a heavy weight dragging down production time and customer satisfaction. Automation allows BSMW operations to be performed with greater control and enhanced quality:
- Accuracy and consistency are improved.
- Most products require precise measurements. Automation can create a process producing thousands of identical end results. A program will run the same way every time, meaning the associated automated system or machine will perform the same way, as well.
- Human errors caused by fatigue, distraction, stress, etc. are eliminated.
- The process of maintaining ISO 9001 compliance, plus other certifications, is simplified.
BSMW’s automated systems and machines ensure every product meets the highest industry standards.
Boosted Production Rates
With automation handling repetitive work, BSMW workers have more time to focus on tasks that drive BSMW’s business forward. These are opportunities that unlock creativity to solve problems and develop strategies to enhance efficiency and elevate operations. This kind of work atmosphere is more engaging and encourages a higher productivity rate.
Increased speed of production reduces costs for BSMW and, ultimately, its customers. Higher productivity also helps absorb increases in wages and benefits.
What automated technology is improving BSMW’s products and working environment?
Automated Laser Load/Unload System
BSMW’s automated laser load/unload system indicates to the machine when to load a raw sheet of metal onto the laser bed. It cycles into the machine, and cycles back out once that material has been processed at the laser. The system then picks up the material, transferring it to a cart while also loading the next sheet.
This automation means there is no risk of injury by manually lifting, loading, or unloading the raw material, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
CNC Seam Welder
Instead of manually holding a torch, welders using the CNC seam welder load the material into the machine, clamp it down, and let it cycle through MIG or TIG processes. This automated technology can process up to a 12-foot weld seam, improving consistency and preventing fatigue. It also keeps welders from climbing up the material to complete a longer seam.
ARKU Deburring Machine
Before the ARKU deburring machine arrived, a “sort team” at BSMW used hand grinders to deburr edges on parts. Using the automated technology, the parts are now loaded onto a conveyer and run through a multi-process deburring system that results in a consistent finish and quality.
“If you have four or five workers, you’re going to have four or five different parts,” explained Kenny Coe, BSMW’s sales manager. “With the ARKU deburring machine, they’re all the same every time!”
TIMESAVER Finishing Machine
Prior to installing the TIMESAVER Finishing Machine, BSMW employees would hand polish a #4 grain and #6 grain into material to the customer’s desired specifications. The three-step process is now completed with consistency in a single step through the automated finishing machine. BSMW employees are also freed from monotonous work and fatigue-related injuries.
The benefits of integrating automation at BSMW are threefold: increasing efficiency and productivity, relieving workers from repetitive labor, and inspiring next-level strategizing and innovation. Simply put, automation is no longer “science fiction;” it’s a necessity at BSMW, helping the company reach new heights every day. Find out how BSMW’s automation strategies will benefit your next project. Request a quote online or call 920-435-8881 today.
About Badger Sheet Metal Works
Badger Sheet Metal Works is a custom and OEM metal fabrication partner for various industries, including food and dairy, mining, petroleum, material handling, and architecture. The company employs approximately 100 people in a custom-designed plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The facility includes a 70 by 320-foot main assembly bay with four crane rails featuring a total lifting capacity of 30 tons and a 22-foot under-hook height.