Automatic cutting line

In 2013, China’s leading coal mining equipment producer Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery invested into a unique fully automatic CNC cutting line built as a cooperation project of MicroStep and Terex Material Handling, producer of Demag cranes. The line consists of 8 CombiCut machines with cutting area of 28 x 3 m (each equipped with 2 HD plasma sources and an inkjet marker), 1 automated overhead crane (9 t x 16.5m) for automatic plane handling, 1 input wagon with load capacity of 15 t and 2 output conveyors for collecting the cut parts and removal of waste material. The entire line is fully automated thanks to the Machine Production Management (MPM) software which has been created by MicroStep with integrated Demag software modules for crane management and material handling.

The crane is moving on a 120 m long tracks in the height of almost 13 m. In the beginning of the process it transports one of the plates (up to 12 long and 40 mm thick) onto a free machine or into one of two buffer zones assigned to each of the 8 CombiCut machines using a strong magnetic gripper. After the cutting, the crane moves the cut plate onto an output conveyor belt. Here, the plates leave the automated area and proceed to be sorted out manually.

This pilot project has been initiated due to the current trends in the field of industrial mass production. Evermore, solutions with central control of production and high degree of automation are in demand. The goals are highest efficiency possible, optimization of the production process and, of course, minimization of risks and costs. The entire production should run fast, smooth and be transparent. Next to the material flow and material processing, the system should also be connected to the central warehouse, order management as well as the customer’s ERP system.

The line replaced the standard oxyfuel cutting production process. As a result of use of the modern HD plasma technology and first of all thanks to automation of production preparation, cutting plan distribution and material handling the cut quality has been enhanced considerably together with a 75% increase in part manufacturing efficiency with one production cycle taking only 1 – 2 hours instead of previous 4-8 hours. In addition, the line increased production volume of the factory by 40% to 28,000 tons of steel per month- The line itself is designed for processing of 8,000 – 12,000 tons of mild steel per month in a three-shift operation.

EXTRA: Control of the entire production process via MicroStep MPM software

The entire production is controlled by production management software MPM from MicroStep which has integrated also the crane and conveyor control software. Through MPM, every production step is coordinated and run automatically. Therefore, no active intervention from the operating personnel is required. The components to be cut are automatically nested (material-saving distribution of the parts on the sheet). The cutting plan is created based on this nesting through the Asper®, CAM software created by MicroStep. The created cutting plans are automatically distributed to the individual CNC plasma cutting machines for processing. The CNC machines are then automatically supplied with the required metal sheets via a crane. The position and orientation of the plates on the cutting tables is automatically scanned. After the cutting the cut parts are moved automatically by a crane to the output conveyor. The operating personnel are serving only in the supervision and service function, such as replacement of the worn consumables.

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