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Automated Material Storage and Retrieval Solutions for Tube Lasers

Automation improves workplace safety and productivity by reducing downtime caused by moving raw material between jobs or restocking unused materials.

Posted: December 28, 2022

BLM Group has added automated storage and retrieval capability to its tube laser systems.

BLM GROUP USA highlighted its new automated tube storage and retrieval solution for integration with the company’s tube laser systems at FABTECH 2022. These solutions feature special cassettes, pre-loaded with stock in a staging area, for loading directly inside the machine. The storage system automatically retrieves the correct material, quickly and safely bringing the material to the machine where it is automatically loaded. When jobs are complete, the system will automatically remove the used cassette with any remaining stock to be placed back into the tower. The system automatically checks the stock level and updates the warehouse management software. Automating these tasks helps to improve workplace safety and productivity by reducing the amount of downtime caused by moving raw material between jobs or restocking unused materials.

For additional flexibility, BLM Group offers a second retrieval system style for use with a central warehouse. In this style, the desired bundle is automatically extracted from the storage tower and staged near the machine in a queue for either crane or forklift loading. This system is for great for customers who have older legacy machines which can’t use the fully automated system.

In the past, tube lasers have featured integrated bundle loading — which always required the use of overhead cranes or forklifts for loading raw material — and finished-part unloading systems. Given the variable tube specifications such as length, profile shape, size, and weight of raw material, automating this process is more difficult than in a 2D application. Additionally, with tube stock, maintaining a stable tube position during movements and separating the tubes is challenging.  Despite these issues and some potential limitations, automating the storage and retrieval functions will increase manufacturing efficiency for tubular components, as well as improving workplace safety.  And, just like in the flat sheet industry, as soon as an automated system is created, the possibilities and configurations are almost limitless.

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