Published on: 01/10/2019
Nuova Bassani, a company within the Lucefin group, recently innovated its cutting service significantly by introducing evolved sawing machines capable of monitoring production, thereby increasing efficiency. The solutions, designed and manufactured by Istech, were perfectly integrated with Nuova Bassani’s software, creating a cutting system compliant with the principles of Industry 4.0.
The Lucefin group is an important concern in the steel industry, specializing in the production and distribution of steel rods, which includes four production plants and eight distribution companies. Nuova Bassani is part of the Group’s Distribution division and provides steel rods cut to measure and packed according to clients’ specifications.
The company is on its way along the path shown by the principles of Industry 4.0, having purchased two Matter automated warehouses, cutting-edge solutions which simplify considerably the handling and stockpiling of steel rods; a third Matter automated magazine is under construction and will be functioning by the end of the year. Large lots of steel rods up to six metres long are brought into the warehouse and the quantities needed to satisfy the single clients’ requests are then picked; the rods are then cut in the company’s 15 cutting stations and packed. The customized cutting service is therefore one of Nuova Bassani’s main activities: precise measurement and perfect cuts are the main assets of the service.
Within the framework of a growing digitization and automation of the activity, Nuova Bassani recently renewed part of its machine park, which already included upper-bracket cutting solutions by well-known German manufacturers, replacing five of these sawing machines with Istech solutions, perfectly connected with the company’s software. In order to identify the most suitable products for its demands, the company carried out an in-depth market survey, enquiring with all the most important manufacturers in this segment.
Following this survey, Nuova Bassani identified Istech as the supplier with the most suitable proposal for its requirements. Lorenzo Bassani, sales manager for the company, appreciated Istech’s solutions; the supplier stands out for its capability of designing innovative and performing cutting systems. “Istech’s offering combines the strength of the world’s best brands with the flexibility of a lean structure; this aspect was decisive in the choice of the supplier”, Mr Bassani explained.
An essential element determining the choice in this case was Istech’s versatility in offering several proposals for the connection between the sawing machines and Nuova Bassani’s software, adapting the machines to the production department’s requirements. The operator panel was presented in over 20 versions, in order to create a solution which perfectly responded Nuova Bassani’s requests. Considerable attention was dedicated especially to simplifying the interface with the operator.
Istech succeeded in creating solutions compliant with the principles of Industry 4.0: thanks to the machine-machine OPC-UA communication protocol, production managers may monitor, even remotely and simultaneously, the functioning of all the machines, manage production programs, obtain and analyse historical data on the most different aspects of the process (quantity of the production, quality of the cuts, lifespan of the blades, alarms and faults) thereby guaranteeing high and constant qualitative standards. Similar information may be provided to Istech, so as to allow the machines’ supplier to carry out remotely the small maintenance and fine-tuning of the software which might turn out to be necessary during production. The connection system turned out to be so satisfactory, that it was decided to accessorize even the other sawing machines of the Nuova Bassani plant with the connection protocol designed by Istech.
Another considerable advantage deriving from the integration of Istech sawing machines with corporate software is the ease with which they can then be programmed: the operator may start cutting with just one click, since all data regarding the material to be cut and the working parameters are provided directly by the software itself. The responsibility of the operator is lightened and the possibilities of human error are practically eliminated.
Istech accurately analysed the demands specified by Nuova Bassani: first of all, the creation of an efficient interconnection between sawing machines and software, in order to improve production speed and quality, reduce production scraps and rod leftovers, simplify use and reduce maintenance.
The solutions created by Istech based on these objectives allowed to optimize the blade consumption as well as the use of the blade-cleaning brushes. The need to clean the machine was also considerably reduced thanks to an innovative system which removes all the swarf produced.
The solutions proposed by Istech and chosen by Nuova Bassani are characterised by the capability of satisfying the demands of companies requiring high output levels, while guaranteeing the utmost cutting precision, even in the case of difficult materials.
Five Power 360NC machines were selected out of the wide range of Istech solutions. Compact and powerful, they can cut surfaces as large as 360 by 360 mm. The special engine of the carriage ensured that positioning is precise right up to the nearest hundredth of a millimetre; the ball screw, positioned on the cutting head, allows the machine to regulate automatically and very precisely the forward motion of the cut, depending on the shape and material of the rod.
Solid and sturdy, Power 360NC sawing machines minimize vibrations, guaranteeing silent cuts and maximizing the lifespan of the blades. The cutting unit slides over two strong chromium-plated guide columns which confer great solidity to the machine; the blade guides, designed with great care, guarantee the maximum precision of the cuts. The automatic tension of the blade, released when the machine is still, prolongs the utensil’s working life.
As Lorenzo Bassani explained, “Remote control allows to have a global vision of the machines’ activity; managers may therefore help operators in case of difficulties when starting to relate to the new machines”. The perfect integration of the company’s software with the control systems of the machines allows to optimize the overall organization.
A clear example is provided by a department with two sawing machines, where one of the two was replaced by an Istech Power 360NC machine. The production monitoring system allowed to verify that the production capacity of the department, following the introduction of the new machine, was decidedly superior to demands. This caused the redundancy of the second sawing machine, not as new but still in perfect working order. The decision was therefore made to sell the second sawing machine, thereby contributing to offset the purchasing cost of the Istech solution.
The digitization of Istech’s solutions allows to detect, store and analyse a large amount of data coming from the machines and related to the production process. This information is essential, for instance, to monitor the quality of the cuts; even before visible defects appear in the finished products, the machine provides information regarding the state of the blade and any deviation of the cutting angle, which allows the blade to be replaced before the quality of the machining should fall below the very high standards set by Nuova Bassani.
But it is not only from a quality standpoint that the data analysis has positive results; the process of monitoring the quality of cuts and consequently evaluating the opportunity of replacing the blade can be matched with data regarding the area of the cut surface up to that moment by the blade, thereby calculating its productivity. Managers may therefore compare blades even remotely keeping in mind such variables as price, lifespan in consideration of the intensity of use, the quality of cuts, coming to the conclusion supported by objective data regarding the validity and convenience of the different solutions. It will therefore be possible to purchase the most convenient blades among the ones which respect the required qualitative standards, thereby contributing to maximize the efficiency of the cutting process.
The excellent results obtained following the introduction of the new Istech sawing machines had a positive influence even on the activity of other companies within the Lucefin Group; Mr Bassani shared with his colleagues the satisfaction for the performances of the new solutions, as well as for the helpfulness and competence of the technicians and the timeliness and accuracy of the after-sales service. Following this report, another company within the group, Siderconero, decided to purchase an Istech sawing machine, with results which were just as satisfactory.
With this new installation, Nuova Bassani joins the list of successful companies which found in Istech a reliable and proactive partner, capable of designing and implementing innovative solutions integrated with the production processes, increasing efficiency from an Industry 4.0 standpoint.