By Sue Roberts, Associate Editor
The band saw is zipping through material. An operator is grabbing and stacking parts.
Two or three employees are using a forklift or
crane to position material for the next batch. Is
it efficient? Productive? Is it time to invest in
automated material handling for the band saw
To answer those questions, you need to ask more.
Where is your bottleneck? Are conveyors already
in place? How many employees get involved in the
overall process? What type of material is typically
cut, and how long does each cut take? What will
your plant layout accommodate? Do you expect,
or want, to up your band saw production in the
When a shop is ready to add automation, it has a
number of options to choose from.
Joe Suydam, inside sales and marketing manager
for Behringer Saws, said, “The decision of what
type of material handling to invest in depends
partly on the amount of material going through
and how cut parts are handled on the output side.
But a bigger question is the number of employees
needed to generate the throughput and how their
compensation fits into the equation.
“Fully automated systems, for example, have
high upfront costs, but reduce the number of
employees needed and the skill level they need to
have. For the operators who are required, reduced
physical handling, lower fatigue levels, and the
barriers that are part of these systems create a
safer work environment.”
Material handling can be an investment that is
two or three times that of the saw, but, as Rick
Arcaro, vice president of sales and marketing for
H YDMECH, said, “It fuels bottom-line profitabil-
ity, creates efficiency, and opens up other mar-
keting avenues for a shop. You can have one of the
fastest band saws in the world, but if you can’t
feed it, you can’t produce parts.”
The simplest of material handling options are
roller conveyors. On the infeed side they support
the material, eliminate a portion of the weight
being put on the feed gripper, and move the stock
forward. On the outfeed side they move cut pieces
to a staging area. With added automation, the
parts can be sorted by length into bins or pallets,
and drops can be directed to separate locations.
“A band saw feed gripper has limitations regarding the amount of weight it can pull on its own
without affecting the runout,” said Suydam.
“Eventually you are going to need a powered or
nonpowered roller conveyor, and that choice will
depend on the size of material you process and
how fast you want to move it.
Pair material handling with band
saws for efficient, profitable
A drawbridge option can open to remove trim or
remnants and close to allow finished parts to move on.
Photo courtesy of Behringer.
A workcell environment can be created where material comes in the front
door, moves through the sawing process, and finished parts flow out the
back door. Photo courtesy of HYDMECH.
Some material handling systems can begin with roller
conveyors and be expanded as company needs
change. Photo courtesy of HYDMECH.