Advanced Robotic Technology
supplied their XR5000 CNC router to the Brisbane-based Apex Insulation to help the company automate the cutting of fibreglass insulation and boost productivity.
Founded in 1983, Apex Insulation has been working with sheetmetal shops in the air-conditioning and ducting industry, fitting insulation material to duct units and other HVAC construction equipment.
Factory manager and owner John Petrou realised it was time to speed up production and increase the shop’s efficiency in keeping with their fast-growing customer base by reducing the amount of manual labour involved in cutting the fibreglass insulation material to size, which was a messy and difficult process.
He explained that production speed was the main problem when they used manual methods to cut the insulation material to size. After initially considering a waterjet cutter, he chose ART’s XR5000 CNC router with additional features designed to suit all applications within the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) industry.
By adding a fourth axis to its SMART Router series, ART transformed a once very messy job into a clean, automated process delivering clear benefits to the cutting process.
The machine cuts at 50m/min with the intelligent nesting software helping to cut waste by up to 30% and manual labour even more. The router is also equipped with a Sick safety laser scanner for non-contact monitoring of a freely programmable area around the machine to ensure maximum safety for the operators during the fibreglass insulation cutting process.
A single operator has now replaced two or three people in the cutting process, with the user-friendly functions allowing most staff members to be trained to operate the machine. Mr Petrou says that the biggest benefit has been in the fittings involving cutting radius bends of duct. Where earlier they had to wait for the client to deliver the duct as it was used as a template, the new ART XR5000 CNC router allows pre-cutting using the job sheet data sent by the customer.
While Apex Insulation predominantly cuts fibreglass insulation with a reciprocating knife on the machine, the additional fourth axis on the CNC router offers many special tools designed for insulation material and duct board cutting including variable angled knives or steered pizza cutter wheels for creasing and cutting a variety of materials including insulated duct board, fibreglass and polyester insulation, fabric and textiles, plastic and rubber as well as timber and aluminium.
The machine’s versatility has inspired Mr Petrou to consider tapping into other markets such as insulated duct board cutting.
Mr Petrou also appreciates the local service and support from ART, the Australian manufacturer of the CNC routers.
Key benefits for Apex Insulation include greater productivity and efficiency over the previous process, faster and more accurate operation than manual labour with very little room for error, and the machine’s versatility that allows the company to explore new markets such as duct board fabrication.