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The KASTOwin pro AC 5.6 in use at the Howat Group

Shorter cutting times even when cutting tougher alloys

In light an increasing number of high volume orders, the Howat Group decided to build on a new facility to expand its capacity - and to broaden its sawing technology. The metal handler serving the oil and gas industry invested, among other things, in the KASTOwin pro AC 5.6 high-performance bandsaw. This bandsaw is designed for the optimal use of bimetallic and carbide blades and enables significant productivity advantages for all processing materials.

After experiencing several difficult years, the oil and gas industry is now on the upswing again. The Howat Group also benefits from this development: Located in Barnsley in the UK, the company is a supplier of special metals for this demanding industry. The product range comprises various nickel and aluminium alloys as well as numerous steel and stainless steels. The materials are used, for example, on offshore drilling platforms or in pipeline construction - at sites where they are exposed to extreme temperatures, high pressure, and heavy corrosion.

The Howat Group opened its new facility in Dearne Valley at the end of 2018. This facility provides 60,000 square metres of space, among other things, for a large sawing plant: A total of 14 automatic saws from the German manufacturer KASTO ensure fast and accurate cuts. Some of which have been in service since the 1990s and still cut as accurately as they did when first used.

Expanding sawing technology with a familiar supplier

To cope with an increasing number of high volume orders, in the course of constructing the new facility, the company also decided to expand its sawing technology. Some of the existing models were retrofitted to update them to the current technology. In addition, the company invested in the KASTOwin pro AC 5.6, which is a high-performance bandsaw optimized for the use with bimetallic and carbide blades. Therefore, it is suitable to cut alloys such as tough nickel, titanium and stainless steel with diameters of up to 560 millimetres as well as for cutting low-alloy steels.

Howat’s operations director Emma Parkinson commented, “We have four dedicated carbide cutting bandsaws on site which include KASTOtec AC 5s and now the KASTOwin pro, which is even more economical". "They are ideal for cutting our Inconel materials." Particularly for the processing of these nickel alloys, the company wanted to become more efficient and therefore decided to acquire this new machine. Parkinson explains the decision, "I am quite familiar with the benefits of the KASTO saws since I have worked with this manufacturer during my previous employment."

Easy blade change saves tool costs

The remainder of the sawing plant, which comprises sawing with a cutting range of up to 800 millimetres, is intended mainly for the operation using bimetal blades - however, now and then carbide blades are used as well. "The advantage of the KASTOwin pro is that we can use either type of blade economically," explained Parkinson. "Whenever the material to be cut permits, we change to bimetal to extend the life of the expensive carbide blades." Changing the blades is quick and easy - and since Howat frequently produces large batch sizes, the time spent on processing is virtually no concern.

Furthermore, KASTOwin pro excels with its high productivity.  Depending on the type of blade, cutting times can be reduced by 50 percent and more. A frequency-controlled eleven kW motor drive provides plenty of capacity for the use of carbide blades. The cutting speed is infinitely adjustable from twelve to 150 metres per minute. The electro-mechanical feed system can be controlled using two ball screw spindles, each with a servo drive for precise, infinitely variable control. This system provides exact results and minimises material waste. The saw features a retraction unit for lifting the blade from the material when the saw head moves back to protect the cutting surface and the bandsaw blade. This minimises tool wear.

We regard KASTO as a premium brand whose rigid and technologically advanced bandsaws maximise blade life and cut accurately for decades, despite heavy use.”

Emma Parkinson

Operations Manager at the Howat Group

Excellent results and easy operation

Trum guides mounted at the return side of the blade, inside the top of the saw head enclosure, help to dampen vibration and lower noise during operation. They suppress vibrations on the side opposite from the cutting operation, prolonging blade life and promoting high rectangularity and excellent surface finish. Another advantage is the straightforward and intuitive operation via a touch-screen. The integrated control determines the correct cutting parameters automatically from a databank for any given material, size and cross-section. The operator must simply enter the cut length and number of pieces required and start the saw.

The productivity benefit for Howat is most pronounced when cutting nickel alloys. "We used to saw Inconel 718 using a carbide blade at three to four square centimetres per minute." Parkinson compared. "Thanks to the new saw, the average is now twelve." As a result, Howat can now process, for example, a 200 mm diameter bar that would previously have taken up to an hour and a half to cut, in less than half an hour.

The saw was supplied to the British subsidiary by KASTO located in Milton Keynes. If needed, the specialists are quickly on site at any time, for example, for maintenance and service works. Emma Parkinson emphasized, "We have relied on KASTO sawing equipment for a long time and see the company as a partner to our business."  “We regard KASTO as a premium brand whose rigid and technologically advanced bandsaws maximise blade life and cut accurately for decades, despite heavy use.”