In order to expand its capacities in the face of an increasing number of large orders, the Howat Group decided to build a new site – and to expand its sawing technology: Among other things, the metal distributor for the oil and gas industry invested in the high-performance bandsaw Kastowin pro AC 5.6. This is optimised for use with bi-metal and carbide saw blades and thus enables significant productivity advantages with all processed materials.
The Howat Group, based in Barnsley, UK, is a specialist distributor of specialty metals for the demanding oil and gas industry. The product range includes numerous nickel and aluminium alloys, but also different types of steel and stainless steel. The materials are used, for example, on drilling platforms or in pipeline construction – in other words, in places where they are exposed to extreme temperatures, high pressure and severe corrosion.
In late 2018, Howat Group opened a new location in Dearne Valley. Among other things, this 60,000 square metre site offers space for an extensive range of sawing machines: a total of 14 automatic sawing machines from the German manufacturer Kasto ensure fast and precise cuts here. Some of them have been in use since the 1990s – and still work as precisely as they did in the beginning.
Sawing technology expanded with well-known supplier
However, in order to be able to handle the increasing number of large orders, the company decided to expand its sawing technology in the course of the new building. Some of the existing machines were brought up to date with a retrofit for this purpose. In addition, the Kastowin pro AC 5.6, a high-performance bandsaw optimized for use with bi- and carbide-tipped bandsaw blades, was added. It is therefore suitable for cutting tough nickel, titanium and stainless steel alloys with diameters of up to 560 millimetres as well as for low-alloy steels.
“We have four specialist carbide band saws on site, including the Kastotec AC5 and now the even more economical Kastowin pro for our application,” describes Emma Parkinson, operations manager at Howat. “They are ideal for cutting our Inconel materials, for example.” The company wanted to become more efficient, particularly in the machining of these nickel-based alloys, and therefore decided to purchase the new machine. “I have been aware of the advantages of Kasto saws for a long time, as I have also worked with this manufacturer in previous jobs,” says Parkinson, explaining the decision.
Simple belt change saves tool costs
The rest of the machinery, which includes saws with a cutting range of up to 800 millimetres, is mainly designed for operation with bimetal saw bands – although tungsten carbide bands are also used here from time to time. “The advantage of the Kastowin pro is that we can use it economically with both belt variants,” explains Parkinson. “Whenever the material to be sawn allows, we switch to bimetal to conserve the more expensive carbide strips.” Belt changing is quick and easy – and as Howat often produces large batches, it is of little consequence compared to the machining time.
Furthermore, the Kastowin pro convinces by its high productivity. Depending on the saw band, cutting time savings of 50 percent and more are possible. With eleven kilowatts, a frequency-controlled drive motor provides ample power for the use of carbide saw blades. The cutting speed is infinitely variable from twelve to 150 metres per minute.
The electromechanical feed system can also be infinitely and precisely adjusted via two ball screws, each with a servo motor. This ensures accurate results and reduces material loss. To protect the cutting surface and the saw band when the saw head is retracted, there is a free lift device to separate the band from the material. This minimizes tool wear.
Excellent results and easy operation
Smoother running and less noise during operation are contributed to by the Trum guides, which are mounted on the back of the blade in the top of the saw head cover. They suppress vibrations on the side opposite the cutting process, extend the service life of the saw blades and promote high squareness and a good surface finish.
Another plus point is the simple and intuitive operation via touchscreen: The integrated control automatically determines the correct cutting parameters for each material, size and cross-section from a database. The operator only has to enter the cutting length and number of pieces and start the saw.
The productivity advantage is particularly noticeable for Howat when cutting nickel-based alloys: “For example, we used to saw the material Inconel 718 with a carbide saw blade at three to four square centimetres per minute,” compares Parkinson. “Thanks to the new saw, the average is 12.” For example, Howat can now process a bar with a diameter of 200 millimeters, which previously took up to one and a half hours to cut, in less than half an hour.
The saw was supplied by the British branch of Kasto based in Milton Keynes. If required, the specialists can also be on site quickly at any time, for example for maintenance and servicing work. “We’ve relied on Kasto’s machines for a long time and consider the company our partner,” Emma Parkinson points out. “For us, Kasto is a premium brand whose rugged and technologically advanced bandsaws maximize blade life and cut accurately for decades despite heavy use.”