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Stone-Cutting Savings

Advanced Industrial Machinery Inc. (AIM), in Hickory, N.C., builds machines that cut large stone slabs into high-end kitchen countertops and exterior fixtures.

The hardest challenge for the stonecutting industry isn’t cutting through solid marble or granite, its doing so with maximum productivity, precision and efficient use of raw materials. To improve in these areas, AIM incorporated a new drive and control system supplied by Bosch Rexroth Corp., Hoffman Estates, Ill., into its MasterJetSaw, its top-of-the-line stonecutting tool.

AIM was looking for new technology that would reduce the machine footprint, lower machine component costs, reduce the time to build machines and improve stonecutting productivity and materials utilization. AIM upgraded its machine with Rexroth’s IndraMotion MTX CNC (computer numerical control) platform and the IndraDrive Mi integrated servomotor/drive.

The system allowed AIM to replace a large, free-standing enclosure that previously housed all the servo amplifiers, power supplies, contactors and other components with two 24-by-24-inch cabinets mounted on the machine. This reduced machine footprint and saved costs on the enclosure. Communication and power cables were also combined. “Reducing the footprint, component cost and machine build time were all important goals for us,” says Bob Pharr, AIM president. “The Rexroth IndraDrive Mi was key to meeting all three. We cut the machine electrical build time in half.”

The IndraMotion MTX combines all of the components, drives, controller, operator software and engineering framework needed for machine operation. This integration provided greater accuracy of cutting, which ended the problem of wasted stone between cuts. “The parts are accurate to within four to five thousandths of an inch, far more accurate than what’s been done in the past,” says Pharr. “Because the original cut is more accurate, it speeds up the finishing process.”

These gains in machine productivity have helped AIM customers improve their production speed. Pharr notes that one of the first companies to use the updated MasterJetSaw is Elite Installation and Designs Inc., in Hendersonville, Tenn. The company’s order book was so full they were running at maximum capacity—with lots of overtime. Within a week of using the new tool, the company eliminated overtime entirely.

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