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Why You Should Fully Automate Material Handling at Your Structural Steel Fabrication Shop

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Many fabricators of structural steel (steel used in the construction industry) have a complex material handling system that includes lift trucks, overhead cranes and conveyor belts. These material handling methods require workers to operate those machines. This increases the cost of fabricating products. It also takes plenty of time, leaving modern CNC (computer numeric control) machines idle during those material-handling stages. This article discusses the benefits that you would reap if you adopted a fully automated material handling system that is integrated into the CNC fabrication processes.

Easy Nesting of Steel Sections

Intelligent steel fabrication (the full integration of material handling and fabrication processes) makes it easy to assemble different parts that are going to be used in a production process. The CAD (computer-aided design) software generates a model of the desired finished part. It also breaks down the different pieces of steel that will be used to make that product. This breakdown is used by machines in the inventory section to sort steel sections based on the bar codes on them. Thus, similar steel sections will be conveyed to each step of the fabrication process so that all machines work at full capacity. This can greatly improve productivity and profitability.

Easy Prediction of Delivery Times

Full automation of material handling makes it possible to generate an accurate prediction of how long it will take to complete a client's order. This is because you can enter the requirements of the job into the automated system and it will give you a report detailing how long the entire process will take. Previously, it would be hard to have an accurate estimate of the production time because material handling was susceptible to human factors (such as fatigue) that slowed down production processes. Full automation makes it possible to have consistent production times. It also makes it possible to keep all your delivery timeline promises to clients.

It Enables Optimal Use of Floor Space

Space is becoming increasingly expensive. Fabrication shops have been devoting a lot of space to non-productive activities such as material handling. Material handling can be regarded as non-productive because no value is being added to a steel section while it is being moved from one place to another. Thus, all the space left for conveyors and lift trucks can be regarded as space that was being wasted. Full automation integrates material conveyance channels within the mechanism of the CNC machines. This frees up a lot of space for setting up more fabrication machines.

As you can see, it is possible to become more efficient by cutting down the billable labour hours used to produce each metric tonne of steel. Upgrade to a fully automated material handling system and you will get a firsthand experience of the advantages above.