Bigger is Better for Central Tube and Bar
A leading supplier and processor of high quality, prime tube and bar products including round, rectangular and square tube, is Central Tube and Bar. Operating for over 20 years, they serve primarily large OEMs in a variety of industries, along with fabricators and service centers in eight South Central states. They have three locations one in Conway, AR, one in Tulsa, OK, and the third one in Waco, TX.
Conway, Arkansas-based Central Tube and Bar supplies materials for various industries—large OEMs are the target base, as well as customers serving the automotive and heavy truck equipment sectors. “We also offer value-added tube and bar for furniture, filtration and skid work, just to name a few,” Chambers adds.
With four lasers already working at capacity, leaders at Central Tube and Bar decided an additional tube laser with a larger diameter capacity as well as longer in- and out-feed capabilities would generate more business. Their previous tube lasers just couldn’t handle the RFQs that Central Tube and Bar was receiving.
“We started receiving RFQs for larger sized tubes and we needed a machine that could handle the larger materials while not sacrificing speed and accuracy,” says Director of Business Development Eric Chambers.
The company started with one laser eight years ago. “We added three additional lasers and the fifth came online mid-2016,” he says. As customers started coming in with requests for larger sizes, “we couldn’t accommodate them and we were losing those jobs,” he says. “So we knew we needed a 40-foot-long in-feed and a 28-foot-long out-feed in addition to the larger capacity.”
In early spring, April 2016 Central Tube and Bar had their newest tube laser installed, the Mazak FABRI GEAR 400 which has proved to be more efficient than their other, smaller tube laser cutting systems.
Besides the size that was needed, “we also got the advantage of the laser’s 6-axis bevel cutting—a big advantage over our other machines.” The platform is similar to the fabricator’s older machines, but finishes jobs faster than the other lines in the shop. “Our other loaders have separate controllers, which are offline,” explains Chambers. “Now, our laser is integrated into one streamlined control panel with a user-friendly interface.”
What stood out about the FABRI GEAR 400 was of course that it could handle much larger materials while being incredibly robust yet precise. “A four-chuck system is able to cut more accurately since the part and the material are both being secured,” says Tyler Van Wyhe, applications engineer at Mazak Optonics Corp. in Elgin, Illinois. This design helps to meet tighter tolerances, making longer parts more accurate and easier to cut; and ensures full control of the cut part and the raw material. Scrap is reduced to nearly nothing, according to Van Whye, “because the machine transfers the material from the first two chucks to the final two chucks.”
Because a four-chuck system doesn’t have a set minimum or set remainder/remnant like a two-chuck system has, operators can obtain “more parts out of their nest,” he notes. Additionally, the four-chuck system is able to make parts out of material that is already cut to length.
The machine will also multitask, says Van Whye. “It can perform simultaneous operations. It can unload a part while starting to process a new part.”
Tapping is one of many possible functions. “Tapping is not unique to just the FABRI GEAR 400,” he acknowledges. The tool head comes with six different taps ranging from a #3 tap unto a 1⁄2-inch tap. “The tapping system also lubricates and has breakage detection,” he says.
The benefits that Central Tube and Bar has experiences are, of course, the ability to handle much larger capacity and sizes. But this machine also has incredible performance with increased process efficiencies. Eric Chambers explained, "Previously we were quoting and running parts that would be at 5 minutes per piece, the new FABRI GEAR 400 is running parts from 3 – 4 minutes which has increased their throughput."
Since installing the 400, the biggest impact on Central Tube and Bar’s business has been with water filtration and oil and gas-related processing orders, says Chambers. “The ability to cut larger size manifolds, and work with larger structural materials like I-beams, channels and angles just wouldn’t have been possible before we got the larger laser from Mazak,” he says. “We are able to participate in business that was beyond our reach before.”
Customers expect Central Tube and Bar to handle virtually any part size and order volumes without hesitation. Before the fabricator purchased its latest laser, however, some of those large-format jobs simply weren’t possible. But since installation, “we never really know what kind of job will come to our door,” Chambers says. “The Mazak laser gives us the flexibility we really need.”
Full article written and published in the April issue of Modern Metals Magazine.