Fastenal sharpens offering with Vollmer

Fastenal, a specialist in fasteners, MRO equipment and industrial supply, has over 3200 in-market locations and 15 distribution centres that span four continents. With more than 200 staff, the largest manufacturing site is located at the company’s headquarters in Minnesota, US, which is also home to two circular saw-blade sharpening machines from Vollmer.

The first arrived in 2018: a Vollmer CHD270 carbide-tipped saw sharpening machine with eight CNC controlled axes and a Vollmer ND230 automated loading station. With the capacity to store up to 250 saw blades, the four-axis robotic loading system with three loading carriages transformed production almost instantly.

“The guys on the shop floor rapidly learnt how to program and use the machine, and we soon got into a rhythm of re-sharpening and servicing special saw blades during the day shift, and then loading-up standard geometry saws and batch-run quantities on the ND230 loading station for unmanned overnight running,” explains Scott Rodeghier, operations manager. “Immediately, our team got into a routine where we could process special saw blades by day, do standards and batch-runs overnight and, in the morning, unload the finished saws and pack them to be distributed nationwide back to our customers – and then start the cycle again.”

From a productivity perspective, Fastenal stepped up from processing 25 TCT blades a day to over 25 on each shift, with capacity to spare.

This instant success resulted in the company ordering a Loroch Solution K850 grinding centre for sharpening, re-toothing and chamfering its metal-cutting circular saw blades. Delivered six months after the Vollmer CHD270 in the spring of 2019, the combination of Loroch Solution K850 and Vollmer CHD270 reduced labour requirement in the saw blade sharpening cell from five staff to two, while replacing seven machines with just two.

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Ficep boosts customer support

Ficep is increasing its customer support focus with a new service engineer appointment. Although the company says it already offers the highest ratio of service engineers to installations in the steel processing industry, Ficep has now appointed a dedicated service engineer to cover Scotland. The arrival of the new engineer takes the total number of service engineers in the business to nine, with coverage across the whole of the UK.

UK service manager Richard Clark says: “Our CNC machinery sits at the heart of the production line for many of our customers, and downtime would cause the entire manufacturing operation to suffer almost immediately. As such, we’re continually looking at ways of enhancing the support we offer.

“Our field team has extensive CNC experience and is highly trained on Ficep equipment,” continues Clark. “We aim to reduce the time engineers spend in the car and increase the amount of time they can spend on site. Adding to our network of service engineers is helping us achieve this, and means that our customers in Scotland can now have an experienced engineer on site even more quickly, if needed.”

Ficep’s focus on aftercare and customer support aims to meet a range of business needs, and the company offers flexible support packages, all designed with customers in mind. For instance, the company offers experienced technical support with its hotline engineers, who can diagnose issues without delay via an internet connection. Ficep also offers numerous service contracts. The standard package includes an annual machine service, a guaranteed 48-hour response time, two call-out days during the year, and discounts on spares. Bespoke support is also available.

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Set-style carbide-tipped bandsaw blade

Lenox, a specialist in carbide cutting performance, is introducing Gen-Tech, a new set-style carbide-tipped bandsaw blade for general purpose cutting. Through innovative design and cutting technology, Gen-Tech offers versatility, long blade life and a low cost per cut, reports the company. Gen-Tech is made at the company’s East Longmeadow, MA manufacturing facility.

Says Daniel Fernandes, senior product manager – industrial bandsaw blades: “Designed for versatility, Gen-Tech cuts a wide variety of materials, shapes and sizes. Manufacturing industries set to take of advantage of Gen-Tech will include aerospace, defence and energy, with applications in carbon steels, bearing steels, mould steels, alloy steels, tool steels and stainless, as well as titanium and nickel-based alloys. Featuring a wide kerf set-style tooth structure, Gen-Tech helps to prevent pinching in these high-stress, hard-to-cut materials.

“An advanced grade of carbide that is honed using Honex technology, contributes to Gen-Tech’s long blade life by limiting chipping and therefore enabling productivity,” he continues. “In addition, the back edge of the blade can utilise Wave Tech, which is designed for improved cutting efficiency by breaking through work-hardened layers.”

Finally, Gen-Tech offers an affordable price point to enable the transition from bi-metal to carbide bandsaw blades.

“New Gen-Tech carbide bandsaw blades provide versatility, long blade life and a low cost per cut,” confirms Fernandes. “Designed with end users in mind, these new blades deliver the performance and durability that tough industrial metal-cutting applications demand.”

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Bison reveals best-selling machines

Bison Machinery says that its two best-selling machines are, perhaps unsurprisingly, bandsaws, which feature in nearly every fabrication workshop. The company’s top-selling saws are easily the Bianco 280 M and 420 MS models, between them accounting for 60% of saw sales by volume.

Both of these machines are precision European-built models with a modern cast bow design produced to exacting standards. Bison regularly has customers coming back to update Bianco saws that were installed in the 1990s and 2000s. And even these part-exchange machines – after a refurbishment – will give further service to a company seeking a low-cost cutting solution.

As well as the 280 M pull-down and 420 MS automatic down-feed models, Bianco manufactures a full range of solutions from manual, through semi-automatic, to fully automatic mitring machines.

The Bianco 280 M pull-down bandsaw is pitched as ideal for those looking to graduate from noisy chop saws as they are accurate, easy to use and quiet cutting. With high capacity for the footprint, an easy pull-down action and inherent safety features, the 280 M mitres up to 60° with a positive stop at 0° and 45° for quick mitres and a scale for any angle between. A sturdy 27 mm blade width and carbide blade guides ensure accurate, perpendicular cuts every time within the life of the blade.

For those running out of capacity on a smaller machine or needing something to cope with a range of materials up to mid-size box and tube, along with smaller beams, the 420 MS is Bison’s recommendation. With all the precision-build features of the 280 M, the 420 MS sees the addition of a valved down-feed cylinder to control saw-frame descent.

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Virtual service support from Saws UK

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns have affected businesses in every industry. While some suffer more than others, almost all companies operating in the UK have had to adapt in order to serve their client base and survive in these difficult times.

Like many innovative and forward-thinking businesses, Saws UK has found ways to continue manufacturing, selling and supporting during lockdown periods. One of the company’s latest innovations is virtual service support. Allowing Saws UK to give customers the assistance they need, while keeping staff and clients safe, this offer is helping the company maintain its high standards of customer service during lockdown.

While Saws UK says that precise engineering and high quality standards are synonymous with its machines, they still require regular maintenance in order to keep them in top condition. Occasionally, when something goes wrong, machines may need repairs or servicing.

Virtual service support from Saws UK takes the form of online video tutorials. Designed to be easy to follow, the videos help a customer diagnose issues and rectify problems. There are already a number of support videos online at the Saws UK website that cover common repair and maintenance issues with some of the company’s most popular models. If the issue is not covered by one of the videos, Saws UK is inviting customers to get in touch, after which it will try and create a video that addresses the problem.

Alternatively, customers can call Saws UK team, which will talk through the steps needed to get the saw up and running. In many cases, this virtual support will help to reduce the cost of servicing and repairs.

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