August 1, 2018

SKH SIA was established in 1993 and today the company from Rīga, Latvia specialises in the manufacture and construction of industrial buildings, storage tanks, pipelines, thermal insulation of buildings, and general building and construction. With numerous certifications that enable it to serve different industries, SKH is continually investing to develop its engineering capability, including capital equipment. In January 2017 SKH decided to improve the productivity and quality of a large cutting table by retrofitting it with state-of-the-art CNC control and plasma cutting technology from Thermal Dynamics.

Initially SKH contacted CNC Baltic SIA Cutting & Welding, a firm in Rīga that supplies, installs and supports welding and cutting machinery and accessories. CNC Baltic recommended retrofitting a Thermal Dynamics iCNC Performance CNC controller and a Thermal Dynamics Auto-Cut 200XT plasma cutting system. SKH subsequently accepted CNC Baltic's proposal and the two companies signed a co-operation agreement.

The installation took place on site at SKH over a two-week period, with CNC Baltic's technicians working through both weeks and over the weekends to ensure the upgraded machine was recommissioned on time. In addition to the equipment mentioned above, CNC Baltic installed new lifters for the plasma and gas torches, and replaced the servo motors on the X and Y axes. The bearings on the portal were also changed, as were the rack-and-pinion drives. New wiring harnesses were installed, and the machine portal and guideways were cleaned and painted. With such a major upgrade, CNC Baltic made sure its engineers and technicians were available when the machine was put back into production in order to deal with any teething problems as quickly as possible.

Project team

Andrejs Afanasjevs, the owner of CNC Baltic, comments: "Throughout the project we worked closely with Thermal Dynamics. In particular, the Thermal Dynamics engineering team were very helpful and we benefited greatly from their knowledge and experience with the Thermal Dynamics equipment. As soon as SKH started using the upgraded machine I was confident we had used the right equipment; the controller is very easy to use, with the operator only needing basic computer skills to program it. In fact the system is so easy to use that we could train the operators without any assistance from the Thermal Dynamics representatives."

When the Thermal Dynamics iCNC Performance was introduced to the market a couple of years ago, it was described as a game-changer for the industry, offering high-end performance and quality of cut, but at a far lower cost than comparable CNC controllers. Features include built-in process databases, three-axis drive outputs, three encoder inputs, programmable I/O, a 15-inch touchscreen and WiFi. Complementing the iCNC Performance, the Auto-Cut 200XT plasma system has a rated output of 200A, a cutting capacity of 50mm (edge starting) and it pierces mild steel up to 35mm thick (25mm for production piercing). For thicker material, the iCNC Performance controller is used with a gas torch to cut steel up to 200mm thick.

The local Thermal Dynamics representative was Konstantin Demidov, the Area Sales Representative for Russia and CIS. He states: "This project has been a team effort, with input from CNC Baltic as well as our own application engineers and service engineers. We found CNC Baltic was a good company to work with, as they are very customer-focused and have great technical experience. The upgraded machine is now easier to use; all the cutting parameters are set in the CNC controller, so there is no need for the operator to set anything on the machine. For SKH, the end result of the retrofits is a vastly improved machine, with far superior quality of cut and higher productivity."

Customer benefits

Sergejs Guļko, the owner of SKH, adds: "Our cutting machine was getting old and we realised it could be retrofitted with new technology at a lower cost than buying a completely new machine. We are now benefiting from a machine that cuts faster than before and leaves a cleaner finish. Components require much less post-processing prior to welding, which saves a lot of time. Overall we are very pleased with the performance of the machine, and we are grateful to Thermal Dynamics and CNC Baltic for working so hard to complete the project to such a high standard and so quickly."

This project is an excellent illustration of how Thermal Dynamics iCNC Performance controllers and Auto-Cut 200XT plasma cutting systems are extremely versatile. The equipment is proving popular for retrofitting to older cutting tables originally constructed by a variety of different manufacturers. Retrofitting is usually a much more cost-effective option for customers than purchasing all-new machines, as the portal is usually robust enough to withstand many years' use and can readily form the basis for an upgraded machine that, in most cases, delivers higher performance and cut quality than the original machine.

XT Torch cutting mild steel plateUltra-Cut 400 XT Power Source