Safety and security for poorly accessible workplaces thanks to Kaltenbach’s latest cutting/drilling and milling technology
They constitute an important maintenance component in poorly accessible spaces, because they provide a greater degree of safety: a lot of maintenance and service work would be impossible were it not for gantries, fixed and mobile ladders, maintenance platforms and guardrails. Products like these are expected to function perfectly and provide useful services. While this may sound simple, it requires precise, customized designs made to suit individual circumstances, together with precision manufacturing technology. Only those who understood how to tackle this kind of work have what it takes to be an industry leader, like Alsace-based FORTAL.
In France, FORTAL has long been one of the leading developers and manufacturers of products that provide access to elevated workplaces as well as personal safety equipment. FORTAL’s share of exports in Europe and Arab countries is growing and the company is continuing to expand its market position. With their wide array of products and services – which range from project planning to final construction and delivery – the professionals at FORTAL are solid partners to a wide range of industries and in various fields of application. FORTAL’s safety products for poorly accessible spaces are used on a regular basis in construction, the food, petrochemical and aviation industries as well as at cultural events.
Well known customers such as Airbus, Bouygues Group and EADS are just a few examples of the value and confidence placed in FORTAL products. In addition to off-the-shelf products, it’s the customized solutions in particular, that have served to establish the company’s reputation. After all, difficult-to-access workspaces come in all shapes and sizes. In order to produce optimum customer solutions, FORTAL has its own 12-person design and engineering office, which provides the answers to complex circumstances, while abiding by domestic and international standards.
Solutions demand excellence
Together with designers, the team made up of 120 experienced specialists works with advanced computer-controlled machinery to turn innovative ideas into products made of aluminum, wood and steel. Annual production capacity at this medium-sized company is impressive: around 1,200 tons of aluminum, approximately 600 tons of wood and 100 tons of steel per year are transformed into ladders, access stairs, guardrails, mobile work-platforms and rolling gangways, not to mention the many specially designed structures.
Along with innovative craftsmanship and professional know-how, executing these projects also requires processing equipment capable of converting constructive ideas into precision and quality. Customers expect lasting value and durability. Changing needs and expanding capacity are often the main reasons for modernizing existing equipment stocks. With respect to cutting, drilling and milling operations, one of the deciding factors necessitating equipment upgrades at FORTAL was that rising demand for steel chassis and steel staircases was outstripping existing capacity. Since outsourcing was not considered to be a permanent solution and an older machine also needed replacing, the decision was made to purchase a new cutting / drilling machine with milling capability.
The decision in favour of Kaltenbach, the international manufacturer of metalworking machines from Loerrach, didn’t take long. The exceptional quality and technical capabilities of Kaltenbach’s equipment made FORTAL’s decision an easy one. In order to deal with the problem of expanding capacity while providing rapid throughput for a wide array of different types of projects, they decided on a high-performance combination cutting and drilling unit. The experts at Kaltenbach suggested a combination consisting of the KBS 620 DG precision saw and the high-performance KDM 615 drill, together with an M 151 G measurement gripper system
Cutting duties were assigned to the KBS 620 DG mitre band saw. The band saw specializes in light-to-medium steel construction, where it’s an absolute must for profiles and flat steel to be cut to perfection. The material can be cut using either straight or mitre cuts – an increasingly important capability owing to the many different kinds of jobs the company has to handle. The equipment’s other technical attributes are equally impressive: the horizontal saw with its sturdy double shaft design offers excellent cutting quality and delivers a high cut rate – thanks to its powerful drive. The NC-controlled angle adjustment ensures a high degree of precision, especially in ladder production, and the low-maintenance design typical for Kaltenbach equipment generates real economic benefits. FORTAL also chose to include an additional component: Kaltenbach’s cut monitoring system. It controls band travel in accordance with specified values, thereby guaranteeing high cutting quality while eliminating material waste. To further increase throughput, the first roller block past the saw was outfitted with aluminum sheeting, so that 3–4 parts would be ejected following processing, then removed together. A typical Kaltenbach solution: efficient and well-conceived.
Precision in drilling and milling
Just one look at the Kaltenbach KDM 615 high-performance drill and it’s clear to see that it’s the ideal partner for the band saw, with which it operates together in sequence. It has three fully automatic tool changers, each with five tools. A backlash-free slot for HSS, carbide metal and solid metal drill bits ensures the highest levels of precision and maximum torque transmission. A decisive factor in the purchase of the KDM 615 was its ability to mill precise slots on all three drilling axes, which is particularly important in manufacturing gantries. The milling unit’s sturdy frame is designed for demanding applications, allowing it to mill difficult notches, complicated trajectories as well as holes up to Ø 600 mm on all three axes. An rpm range of up to 10,000 rpm-1 provides for high-speed machining of steel profiles, which helps improve overall productivity. In addition to the off-the-shelf equipment, FORTAL also purchased a tools cart in order to be able to respond more quickly to differing project requirements.
In addition, FORTAL also decided to include a feature capable of marking materials on three axes. Kaltenbach’s contour marking system uses a carbide milling tool to produce the desired markings. This process allows instructions or reference marks to be applied to the material being processed, which significantly simplifies subsequent processing operations, such as any welding work that may need to be done to the production item.
As is customary at Kaltenbach, equipment operation is made easy through an advanced software package that enables efficient drilling, milling and counter-boring while also providing for greater flexibility and increased capacity. According to FORTAL’s managing director, Ruffenach Fabrice, the company saw improvements in a very short period of time. Expressing his satisfaction with the new addition to the equipment pool, he said, “Anyone who wants to be a leader in their market segment has to offer customers precisely what fits their needs, no matter how unusual or complicated it may be. Without state-of-the-art equipment, we could never fully capitalize on the proven expertise of our designers and engineers. That’s why we’re pleased to have found in Kaltenbach an equipment supplier capable of meeting our expectations. The professionals there work with the same level of passion as we do to find the right solutions – as was demonstrated by the new cutting and drilling machine. So I can only say, à bientôt Kaltenbach!”