Integrated plasma cutting solutions delivers increased productivity with 3 times improvement in cut speed
Company and products
GT Metal Products, a custom job shop located in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, has been in business since 1938. Services include CNC forming, plasma and laser cutting, robotic welding, rolling, shearing, punching and drilling, as well as drafting and engineering design. With extensive manufacturing capabilities that range from the design, build and delivery of a single custom part, to large scale mass production requiring multi-process manufacturing, GT Metal Products caters to a broad and demanding customer base. Products include power distribution panels, grain hopper bottoms and aeration tubes, and Envirovaults that serve to protect the environment against oil valve spillage and house control systems for oil storage tanks.
Customer demand for more precise cutting than an older plasma system could deliver led to the investment in two CO2 lasers in 2007, but the slower cut speeds of the lasers was now disrupting production flow and limiting business growth. Demand for GT Metals products now exceeded their capability to meet customer expectations, and the ability to offer additional cutting time was crucial to their continued growth and success. The combination of fast cutting speeds and low maintenance costs typically associated with plasma, with cut quality comparable to laser, was needed. This would off-load the backlog on the lasers, ensure parts flow to their seven full-time welders, and provide more quoting and business growth opportunities. Additionally, plate size limitations caused by the 5' x 10' laser tables had become a problem. Increasing demands for cutting 6' x 24' plate finally drove owner Dennis Berreth to find a solution.
Having worked together successfully for years, Dennis sought help from the OEM that sold him the CO2 lasers. After discussing the need for significant productivity improvements with cut quality comparable to laser, Integrated Plasma Cutting Solutions was recommended. This would expand GT Metal Products already extensive offerings beyond the limitations of the lasers, and enable greater flexibility in quoting, materials use, and production, with lower operating and maintenance costs. With the requirements of near laser cut quality at high cut speeds, Dennis was willing to invest in ultra-precise table motion. His full suite of Hypertherm components includes a HyPerformance Plasma HPR130XD, EDGE Pro CNC, ArcGlide THC and ProNest nesting and process optimization software.
“HyDefinition Plasma cuts at lower cost, at higher speeds, with greater quality. We have gone from cutting at 26 ipm with the lasers to 80 ipm with the plasma, and drilling has been minimized due to True Hole,” comments Dennis. The addition of the True Hole enabled cutting machine immediately allowed GT Metal Products to sell more cutting time and reduce operating expenses by eliminating the second shift, and return to the one-shift model that had been so successful and cost effective for them. “ProNest helps our programmer monitor material usage and minimize scrap, and now we have more flexibility with quoting projects by offering both laser and plasma pricing. With quotes 30% less than laser quotes for the same job, plasma is often better than the job requires, so we are able to give our customers the choice, as well as the option to save money.”
Reduced maintenance costs have proven to be a benefit as well. “The plasma system is much easier to maintain and requires less than half the time,” said Dennis. The material range of the HPR130XD has also expanded the services GT Metal Products offers, by allowing them to cut 516-70, AR, and QT, and any material with scale or rust now automatically goes to the plasma. “We don’t cut a lot of it, but to keep our customers, we can cut it when we need to, and that is important,” Dennis states. “We can now offer more cutting time and provide what our customers need at the quality and price they need it.”