What does a steel trader do to be able to reliably supply his customers with steel and non-ferrous profiles made to measure with the tightest tolerances and in series? Bieber + Marburg has opted for a new sawing center from Kasto. This enables the company to significantly minimize its makeready times and respond more flexibly to customer needs.
At the end of the 19th century, Heinrich Bieber had to give up his original profession as a shoemaker because his eyesight was no longer sufficient to practice his craft. He then founded a small business that grew into a successful company with 290 employees today. In the meantime, the Hessian steel specialist is on the road with more than 40 of its own trucks to supply the entire steel and metal processing industry in southern Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Thuringia with the complete range of steel products. The company’s core customer base consists of mechanical engineering, plant engineering, metal and steel construction, machining operations and locksmiths. These are supplied with bar steel, tubes, shaped steel and wide flange beams, flat products, quality and high-grade structural steel, bright steel, stainless steel, nonferrous metals, flame-cut parts, reinforcing steel and structural steel mesh by the family-owned company. The steel trader not only attaches great importance to a uniform appearance for its trucks – all machinery and equipment should also conform to the corporate design.
“We store 28,000 tons of steel here on 42,000 square meters,” says Marcel Finkernagel, who, as head of administration and organization at Bieber + Marburg, knows his way around the company’s halls. “However, we have not been a pure steel trader for a long time,” he emphasizes, “our strength lies in prefabrication – i.e. sawing, drilling, laser cutting in the 3D range, blasting, bending and flame cutting.”
Since customer demand for sawing in particular has increased enormously, the steel trader had to examine how and with which technology he could sensibly expand here. The result of these considerations is a new sawing center of the sawing technology specialist Kasto from Achern – the products and the know-how of the company are well known at Bieber + Marburg due to the long-standing cooperation. The steel experts quickly got into conversation with the Kasto employees and were convinced of the advantages and especially the speed of the Kasto sawing center in a simulation. “When we saw what possibilities the system offered, it was clear that it was the optimal solution for our needs,” reports Marcel Finkernagel.
Fully automatic and personless
The new Kastocenter varioplus 4 sawing center offers impressive dimensions with a length of 50 meters, a width of seven meters and a height of nine meters. “We have about 1,500 compartments here and space for materials up to seven meters long and 330 millimeters in diameter,” explains Marcel Finkernagel. The long goods are stored and retrieved by a storage and retrieval machine (SRM), which travels at a speed of up to 60 metres per minute above the racking block.
Connected to the warehouse are a fully automatic Kastovariospeed production circular saw and a Kastotec SC4 band saw, to which a pallet lift with space for eight Euro pallets is connected. At the circular saw, a Kastosort robot takes over the container management: Eight pallet positions on a carousel change automatically, the robot picks up the pallets independently and loads them. “This can also be done over the weekend without people, and there is even the matching label already in the container, so no employee has to intervene by then,” Finkernagel explains.
The employees of Bieber + Marburg appreciate Kasto products – they already use four fully automatic bandsaws and a Unicompact honeycomb storage system from the southern German family-owned company. “The last expansion in the high-bay warehouse so far was about six years ago,” Marcel Finkernagel tells us. “And two years ago, it was clear that we needed to invest again to become more flexible with saw cuts and minimize setup times,” he adds.
Capacity increased, makeready time minimized
“We wanted to increase capacity, process material at short notice and offer customers batch size 1,” Marcel Finkernagel lists. The prerequisite for this was faster material changeover and less manual effort. “With the Kastocenter Varioplus 4, we were able to reduce the setup time from about 15 to 20 minutes to less than two minutes – fully automatically and with consistent quality of the saw cuts,” he enthuses.
However, the sawmill with the four band saws used up to now also still has its traditional place at Bieber + Marburg – and this is to remain so. The employees there saw the parts with the larger diameters that are too heavy for the new Kastocenter. “Above a certain size, the previous technology is still profitable,” Finkernagel knows, “so the setup times saved then don’t matter.” The upper limit for the new sawing center is 330 millimeters for round material. What goes beyond that ends up on the older conventional band saws.
All requirements met
The Kastocenter varioplus 4 has been in operation at Bieber + Marburg’s Gießen site since July 2020, sawing solid material in round, square or flat dimensions. After some adjustments, which were made in close coordination with Kasto, the system has been fully mature since the end of 2020. “We involved the employees at a very early stage. They were able to participate in the construction and optimal setup of the saw center,” Finkernagel recounts. “That’s made for great acceptance right from the start.” Since they already know the operating logic of the Kastologic software from the band saws, the training effort was not that high. In addition, this allows operators to be flexibly deployed at any plant. Although the sawing center operates largely fully automatically, small interventions such as saw blade changes and load securing for the pallets are still required.
The investment in the Varioplus 4 Kastocenter has definitely paid off for Bieber + Marburg. “There is no comparable product in this form that offers similar benefits,” Finkernagel summarizes. “We wanted fast material changeover, short setup times and smooth access to the entire product range – that’s what we got. Kasto responded to all our wishes and met the high demands we have for our equipment.”