Cut-to-size products: ordered today, delivered tomorrow
What does a steel distributor do to supply its customers reliably with bespoke and in-series produced steel and non-ferrous profiles while maintaining the narrowest tolerances? BIEBER + MARBURG has opted for a new sawing centre from KASTO. Equipped with this sawing centre, the company can significantly minimise its set-up times and respond more flexibly to customer needs.
At the end of the 19th century, Heinrich Bieber was forced to give up his initial profession as a cobbler because his vision was no longer adequate to exercise his trade. As a result, he founded a small business that evolved into a successful company, which currently employs 290 people. Today, the Hessian steel specialist owns more than 40 lorries to supply the entire steel and metal working industry in southern Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Thuringia with a complete range of steel products. The company's core customer base consists of mechanical engineering, plant construction, metal and steel construction, machining companies and locksmith shops. The family-owned business supplies these companies with bar steel, tubes, structural steel and wide flange beams, flat products, quality and high-grade construction steel, bright steel, stainless steel, non-ferrous metals, flame-cut parts, reinforcing steel and steel mesh. The steel distributor emphasises not only the uniform appearance of its lorries but all machinery and systems should also correlate with the corporate design.
"We store 28,000 tonnes of steel here on 42,000 square metres," says Marcel Finkernagel, who, as Director of Administration and Organisation at BIEBER + MARBURG, has extensive knowledge of the company's facilities. "However, we have been more than strictly a steel distributor for quite some time," he emphasises, "our strength lies in processing, i.e. sawing, drilling, laser cutting in the 3D area, blasting, bending and flame cutting". Since customer demands, particularly for sawing, have increased tremendously, the steel distributor needed to examine how to expand in this sector ideally and determine what technology should be incorporated. The conclusion was a new sawing centre from KASTO, the sawing technology specialist based in Achern. Thanks to many years of collaboration, BIEBER + MARBURG was familiar with KASTO products and expertise. The steel experts quickly contacted KASTO employees and found the advantages quite impressive, especially the speed of the KASTO sawing centre when demonstrated in a simulation. "When we saw the possibilities the system offers, it was clear that it was the optimum solution for our needs." Marcel Finkernagel explains.
Fully automatic and operator-free
The new KASTOcenter varioplus 4 sawing centre offers impressive dimensions with a length of 50 metres, a width of seven metres and a height of nine metres. "We have about 1,500 shelves and space for materials up to seven metres long and 330 millimetres in diameter," Marcel Finkernagel states. The long goods are stored and retrieved by an operating gantry crane (OGC) that travels above the shelf block at a speed of up to 60 metres per minute. A fully automatic production circular saw from the KASTOvariospeed series and a KASTOtec SC4 band saw with a connected pallet lift with space for eight Euro pallets are connected to the warehouse. At the circular saw, a KASTOsort robot is responsible for container management: Eight pallet spaces on a carousel change automatically; the robot grips and loads the pallets independently. "This can be carried out even on the weekend, operator free, and the corresponding label is already in the bin, eliminating the need for employee intervention during this time," Finkernagel explains.
The employees at BIEBER + MARBURG value the products from KASTO; they already operate four fully-automatic bandsaws and one UNICOMPACT honeycomb storage system from the family-owned company based in southern Germany. "The last expansion of the high-bay storage system was about six years ago," explains Marcel Finkernagel. "And two years ago, it was clear that to become more flexible when it comes to cut-products and minimise the set-up times, we would need to invest once again", he adds.
Increased capacity, reduced set-up time
"We wanted to increase capacities, process material at short notice, and offer customers batch size 1," Marcel Finkernagel details. A faster material change and less manual effort were required to achieve this. "The KASTOcenter varioplus 4 enabled us to reduce the set-up time from approx. 15 to 20 minutes to less than two minutes - fully automatically and with consistent cut quality," he explains enthusiastically.
However, the current sawmill with its four band saws still has its rightful place at BIEBER + MARBURG, which should remain. The employees there cut the parts with larger diameters that are too heavy for the new KASTOcenter. "Once a certain size is exceeded, the previous technology is still advantageous," Finkernagel knows, "in such cases, the set-up time saved is not a factor." The upper limit for the new sawing centre is 330 millimetres for round material. Anything exceeding this limit is processed on the older conventional band saws.
All demands met
The KASTOcenter varioplus 4 has been operating at BIEBER + MARBURG in Gießen since July 2020 and cuts solid round, square or flat material. After making some adjustments in close collaboration with KASTO, the system has been fully developed since the end of 2020. "We involved the employees at a very early stage. They contributed to the construction and ideal set-up of the sawing centre," Finkernagel says. "That generated great acceptance from the very beginning." Very little training was required since the operators were already familiar with the operating logic of the KASTOlogic software used on the band saws. As a result, the operators can work flexibly on any system. Although the sawing centre operates for the most part fully automatically, minor interventions such as changing the saw blade and securing the load on the pallets are still necessary.
The investment in the KASTOcenter varioplus 4 has undoubtedly paid off for BIEBER + MARBURG. "There is no comparable product like it that offers similar advantages," summarises Finkernagel. "We wanted a quick material change, low set-up times and easy access to the entire product range and that's what we got. KASTO accommodated all our requests and fulfilled our high demands on our systems."