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Recent Articles

Numerically Controlled Machines – The More Sophisticated Range

Lessons from Spencer’s Voortman Visit, Part 3

In the previous article, we did some numbers as to potential savings by going the NC route. Calculating potential savings and payback period would be along the same lines but taking the bigger annual production into account.

Beam drilling and sawing

The V630 machines come in two models based on maximum width (1000 and 1250). Each axis has its own drill and automatic tool changer (five options per axis i.e. one for each of the flanges and one for the web). As with all their drills, it has a 40mm maximum hole capacity, high-speed carbide drilling, centre point marking, tapping and countersinking ability. Optional extras include layout marking; numbering; feeder truck or roller feed measuring systems, and of course are at least two to three times as fast as the entry level machines. Drilling machines are usually set up before the sawing machines, which models were described previously.

Beam marking V704

Relatively speaking, beam marking is a new development. Voortman also offers a standalone beam marking machine which would be used in conjunction with older model drills or for increased capacity. Marking on all four sides is possible with milling heads, offering full or partial contour marking which is still visible after shot blasting.

Beam cambering V2000

For those of us who have operated in the multi-storey steel framed structures arena, we know that beam cambering is an essential requirement to enable (pre-) cambering floor beams so that when all dead load has been applied the (composite) concrete floor will be level. I have seen many variations in the past of the basic concept of a horizontal hydraulic ram and two movable anvils with the settings for pre-cambering dimensions per beam size.  These dimensions were totally dependent upon the hit or miss efforts in the past to create historical records of the settings required. Sadly of course, these historical records were usually stored in the brains of the machine operators, and were lost on retirement or disappearance of the said operator.

Voortman has come up with two models (based on the capacity of the hydraulic ram) for 200 and 400 tonnes. But in this instance, the historical records are replaced with a PLC control which has the option of a remote control. The machines have motor driven rolls for feeding the beams into the machines (no crane necessary – much lower handling costs).

Plate drilling and cutting

We previously looked at stand-alone plate cutting (V304) and drilling (V200) as well as a combined plate drilling and cutting (V320) machines. In the case of the latter machine, the machine had one gantry with cutting in front of the girder and drilling at the back of the girder. The ‘one-step-above’ machine with increased throughput capacity has two gantries with one for cutting (plasma and oxy fuel) and the second gantry for the drilling head. Optional extras include automatic plate handling with lifting magnets and marking by plasma or milling.

Punching and shearing
There is a specialist model, the V505, for those fabricators who specialise in tower manufacturing which comes in two models – one for angles up to 160 x 160, and the second for angles up to 250 x 250. I am sure some of our designers could do wonders for their designs if these big angles were available in SA!

The machines have optional punching heads and or drilling heads (for those angles too thick to punch) with high speed carbide drills. Thread tapping and countersinking are available as well as a shearing head. The machines have automatic in-feeds and use feeder truck measuring systems. Numbering systems built in or stand alone are possible (V70).

The exciting new stuff

Flat and angle storage (V3100). No, this is not a machine, well I guess it is of sorts, but it is a great concept for storage and easy access of 6-metre lengths of flat bars and angles.
One of my earliest recollections of an accident at the fabrication works that I witnessed occurred when loading angle irons into a ‘Christmas tree-like’ storage rack system. Labourers were pushing small angles into the storage rack which had a series of arms to support the angles. One of the labourers was at the end of the angle pushing it in when the angle snagged and he thumped his stomach on the angle.

That is definitely not a danger in Voortman’s V3100 storage system. It consists of a series (7) of bins each 6300 long x 2320 wide internally allowing for small piles of flats to be stacked next to each other. The draws are opened using electro motors and the flats are removed by electro magnets suspended from the cranes. What another great and simple concept idea.
In the last article, I commented “there does not seem to be a one-off machine “does it all” solution available from Voortman”. In fact, there is at least one that cuts holes and shapes in three dimensions.  It is euphemistically called…

Beam coping

Do you want one machine that is capable of cutting every 3D shape possible and put in the holing, prep for welding etc. into beams, angles, plates and other shape?
Well as long as your profile fits into a 500 x 1 250 mm range then you must have a close look at the Voortman V808 coping machine. The description coping really does not do justice to the machines capability.

This eight-axis, industrial robot with a plasma head will do the notches at the ends of floor beams; it will cut the beam to length; shape and put in all the holes (both holes for bolts and any other reasons), will mark using plasma for attachments and numbering. It comes with a roller feed measuring system. What a fascinating machine to see in action!

The pièce de résistance

Yes, this most definitely is the future: Robots to do all the work of assemblers and welders.

Assembling and welding – The Fabricator

Much to my disappointment, I had to leave just when this machine of the future was about to be displayed.

Just imagine it, a machine

  • which has an inbuilt shuttle and beam rotator;
  • that has a series of robots to handle plates up to 75 kg each;
  • hydraulic presses to position the plates accurately and three robots with welding heads that automatically feeds material in and out using an automated crane built into the system;
    processes all four sides of a beam;
  • handles plates automatically;
  • tacks and fully welds and even automatically cleans the welding torch…

…and if that is not enough it can be integrated into a saw cutting, drilling, plate cutting, holing and any other Voortman machine you use or need to make a totally automatically assembler and welder of beams. The thought is mind boggling; the fact is it is now a reality. My wildest imagination and dreams have come true!