Shipbuilder Automates with Inovatech SteelPro 900

Shipbuilder Automates with Inovatech SteelPro 900

 Portland shipbuilder Gunderson Marine automates with a SteelPRO 900 robotic plasma line to cut structural steel and plate.

Portland shipbuilder Gunderson Marine automates with a SteelPRO 900 robotic plasma line to cut structural steel and plate.

Inovatech SteelPRO 900 cuts structural steel and plate at Gunderson Marine.

Original article by Hypertherm

Now part of The Greenbrier Companies, the team at Gunderson knew it couldn’t continue to do business the way it had for the past 90 years. In order to stay competitive, the team ultimately chose the SteelPRO 900 from Inovatech Engineering Corp. Unlike a single-purpose CNC machine, the 900 offers both structural steel and standard plate cutting. While the table cuts flats, base or stiffener plates, the Fanuc® robot, holding a Hypertherm HyPerformance® plasma torch, cuts all around the beams and tubing. Same goes for structural shapes such as bulb flats (a steel flat with a tapered lip on one side), channels, and angles.

A job that used to take six people needs just one.

Because this shipyard is running three shifts, the cost savings quickly multiply. In fact, Gunderson estimates there are days when it runs more than 4,000 linear feet of material through its SteelPRO 900.

Walt Stokman, a production coordinator, calls this last part a huge benefit. “(The 900) has the plate table so we can cut 2-D parts at the same time. But we use our plate machine, too. For instance, when we need to rush a part we can put that on the 900 really fast. Or, if there is an engineering change, we can quickly cut a one-off part without interfering. The 900 is very versatile. We can cut just about any shape we can dream up.”

SteelPRO robotic software saves time and money.

The ability to work quickly is due in large part to Inovatech’s SteelPRO robotic software. Much of it is custom designed, such as the software Inovatech created to work with Gunderson’s ship design program. This software, which Stokman says was created for a fraction of the price other vendors wanted, allows Gunderson to easily import files. “We are able to import directly into the nesting software. In short order, all of our nests are ready and we can cut material.”

Inovatech also added code to the nesting software (Hypertherm ProNest®) to work with Gunderson’s specialized cut list. This alone is credited with saving the company 24 hours of office work each week. At the same time, it removes the potential for human error.

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