Learn about what makes automated steel processing systems better with Voortman's four-part series, "Multi System Integration - The Science of Automation."

Today’s CNC steel processing machines were developed using the greatest innovations in engineering and technical design. Voortman was the first to take the next step and developed a solution called Multi System Integration (MSI) that connects machines on a production line digitally through CNC control software and physically by interconnecting material handling systems between machines with varying capabilities. Companies that have already implemented a Voortman automated system benefit by deskilling the functions in steel fabrication and allowing MSI to make decisions with the overall goal of maximizing efficiency.

Automated production by connecting machines with crosstransports

Each business has different needs. Every MSI layout is customized – modules are selected and pieced together specifically to the customer’s production goals and with their current and future conditions in mind. Voortman’s expertise in automation offers many improvements to fabricators ready to harness the potential of MSI and move towards Industry 4.0 production. MSI reduces manual labor, minimizes bottleneck issues and increases efficiency all while monitoring the entire process in real time.

Automated Material Handling 

MSI opens the door to fully automated production by connecting machines with cross transports, roller conveyors, product buffers, and material sensors. Production data only needs to be imported once and then MSI automatically distributes the data to all machines integrated in the production system. Manually transporting materials through the production line can be eliminated by creating one integrated production system. Everything can be tracked and monitored in real time using VACAM, Voortman’s proprietary CNC control software installed on every machine.

MSI automatically distributes the data to all machines

MSI is the brain behind the entire process, creating a path and guiding the material from raw product to finished profile in the most efficient way possible. If there are machines more suited for a certain operation in the production system, MSI may decide to reroute products based on the actual load of the machines (load balancing algorithm). Every operation and motion is accounted for and analyzed continually, and Voortman’s CNC control software can detect any potential bottlenecking threats ahead of time and use cross transports, buffers, and machines with similar processing capabilities in order to prevent bottlenecking due to variables with manually moving material.

Reduced labor

Automatically moving material provides a significant cost-savings to the bottom line for any structural steel fabricator. Skilled labor is increasingly hard to find, and it can be costly adding operators to a production process. MSI aims to reduce the number of manhours needed per ton produced to a minimum with built-in smart production algorithms in the CNC control software. Every machine runs on the same software and syncs with the master CNC controller, allowing material to be rerouted and directed remotely without manual intervention.

Load balancing algorithms distrubutes material through the system

Increased efficiency

When first seeing a complete Voortman MSI production line, steel fabricators are often surprised at the large amount of material that is moving through the system with only a few people overseeing production. Customers quickly realize how the complete system is necessary to remain competitive and reduce the overall cost per ton. Moving material isn’t only expensive, it’s also time consuming and can result in bottlenecks in the production line. It’s not very efficient to sit and wait for cranes to move material from one machine to the next. With MSI seamlessly connecting machines together in a fully automated system, several different operations can be performed simultaneously, increasing production efficiency while reducing man hours.

Easy distribution of material without manual handling

Voortman - Continually Evolving...

Voortman’s Multi System Integration will continue to evolve and improve as new technology systems and processing machines are developed. Voortman is already preparing to add automated welding into its MSI capabilities with the upcoming release of The Fabricator.

Continually evolving...the Voortman Fabricator in Multi System Integration

MSI is the driving concept propelling Voortman’s research and development into the future of automated steel processing. We’ll continue to lead the way in realizing the importance of not only the quality and efficiency of the machines themselves but also the way they connect and sync with each other to improve capabilities for companies that adopt an integrated system in their fabrication shop.


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