Kinetic Cutting Systems

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Kinetic Cutting Systems’ combination machines have made Caterpillar one of its loyal customers.

By Alan Dorich

When Kinetic Cutting Systems Inc. builds a machine, it strives to make it the most reliable and accurate piece of equipment on the market. This allows its clients to avoid downtime and “get the payback on their investment quicker,” U.S. Operations Manager Jeff Lee says.

Based in West Burlington, Iowa, Kinetic manufactures drilling and cutting machines. The firm is a subsidiary of Kinetic Engineering Design Ltd., based in Auckland, New Zealand.Kinetic info box

Lee says the company’s roots go back to 1993, when three engineers who were former college classmates came together to develop their very own plasma cutting machine. In 2000, the three entered the U.S. market, and Kinetic Cutting Systems was formed.

Over time, Kinetic sold its machines to clients around the world, who now use them in military facilities, earthmoving machine manufacturing, bridge and structural cutting, fabrication shops and machining and steel plate service centers.

They are also used in the construction of monuments, North American Sales Manager Willie Peugh says. In addition to New York City’s Freedom Tower, “We just did three football stadiums with our machines,” he says, noting these were for the Atlanta Falcons, the Miami Dolphins and the Minnesota Vikings.

The company also has developed a loyal base of prominent firms that continue to buy its machines, Lee adds. “One longtime customer is Caterpillar, who has bought eight pieces of equipment.”

The diversity of Kinetic’s customer base also helps it cope with industry shifts. “When the OEMs are down, the structural and other industries are up,” Lee says, noting that the infrastructure work is keeping some of the company’s clients busy at the moment.

“There’s a lot of money being spent towards infrastructure,” he says, noting that the company’s machines help build the equipment for this market.

In One Operation

Kinetic’s machines help its clients gain competitive advantages, Peugh says. Its plasma/oxy cutting and CNC operation machines allow customers to significantly improve their processes and profits by putting activities all in one place.

During normal processing,  “Customers burn their parts, then they send them to a machining center for secondary operations,” Peugh continues. “With our machine, we start with a sheet of steel, machine all the holes first and then we burn the profiles. It’s finished in one operation.”

This can bring its customers savings in terms of the delivery time, Peugh says. For example, one customer’s Kinetic machine allowed them to cut their process from three hours to 12 minutes.Kinetic photo 2

Another client, which used a Kinetic machine to make bridge parts, reduced the hours of labor from 600 to only 59. “They combined all their processes to one machine so they didn’t have multiple operators, [but just] one setup,” he says.

Kinetic’s machines also provide customers with savings that go beyond costs and time. “It also reduces your work in process [WIP],” Peugh says. “Now, you don’t have as many parts go through different operations at the same time, so your WIP is much less.”

This helps clients advance their lean manufacturing initiatives. “You don’t have to handle parts multiple times and you reduce your inventory.”

Revolutionary Technology

Kinetic has several models of machines available depending on the customers’ needs, including the K5000xmc, from its XMC line. The K5000xmc has a 48HP spindle, can drill up to four-inch holes from solid, features helical interpolation, thread milling, counterboring, plasma cutting, oxyfuel cutting, beveling and marking.

The machine also features a unique wet and dry cutting table with automatic cleaning. This system allows high-pressure through tool coolant to be used with the spindle, and dry fume extraction for thermal cutting. The system collects dross in drawers under the table. Thru-spindle coolant is essential for drilling and allows for faster speeds and longer tool life.

Kinetic has a patented coolant collection and recycling system, and also removes chips from the top of the plate. Extra machining capabilities like these “have revolutionized us as a company,” Lee declares.

Competitive Edges

When serving steel service centers and construction industries, you need machines that are built to last. Kinetic’s ability to provide durable machines makes it a leader, Lee says.

“Our first combination machine was introduced in 2000 and it is still operating at Drake-Williams Steel,” he declares, adding that Kinetic’s engineering makes the machines robust. “The structure and strength of the equipment [allows it] to withstand the punishments of the industry.” Additionally, Drake-Williams just purchased a new Kinetic K5000 this year to replace the 17-year-old machine.

Kinetic also thrives by building machines that make its clients more competitive. With more than 250 units operating in North America, “We’re able to have a lot of one-on-one contact with our customers, helping keep their machines maximized,” he says.

The company can provide them with custom fixtures and designs that are tailored for the customer’s needs. For example, it recently provided such a solution for a pressure vessel manufacturer. The firm regularly puts holes in the domes of pressure vessels, but the task of doing it manually took three hours. Kinetic developed a machine that puts the holes in the dome in two minutes.

“Companies that are able to invest in our technology are able to gain a competitive edge,” Lee says, noting that Caterpillar also found savings by buying one of its machines, as opposed to sending work out. “They paid back their $1 million investment in six months in savings.

“They even redesigned some products so they could do both first and second operations on our machine – a huge time saver,” he continues. “Our machine allowed them to eliminate fixtures, setup time and reduce non-value material handling.”

World Class Support

Kinetic provides clients with strong support. When they need a part, “Kinetic has strategically located parts distribution centers to ensure we can service our customers anywhere in the world,” the company says.

The company only approves suppliers that meet its rigorous standards. “All components are standard and are available directly from the component manufacturer,” it says.

Kinetic also has a strong tech team. “We have assembled a team dedicated to making sure we give you the support needed to get the most effective production out of your machine,” it says, noting that support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Not only can the team provide service via an on-board Internet diagnostic, “[We have] live video streaming that allows our tech team to remotely view the machine operations,” the company says.

Additionally, “Your operators can communicate directly to our tech desk through the control panel [of your machine],” the company continues. “[Our] operator can capture immediate issues that arise when operating through a program.”

Ideal Interfaces

Kinetic creates the machine controllers for its multifunction cutting machines. “These use modern touch-driven graphical interfaces, which users enjoy and can learn far more quickly than conventional text and button-based interfaces,” the company says.

The firm also has its own nesting software, PrimeCutNE, which allows for multi-user environments where several people are using the software at once. Features include simple programming, auto nesting, scheduling, job costing, integration into MRP systems and productivity efficiencies.

“PrimeCut NE also extends its functionality to workorder management, plate inventory, historical recording of parts and plates cut, and management reporting,” it adds.

Meeting Demand

Kinetic will continue to launch new products that meet the market’s demands, Lee predicts. At last year’s FABTECH Expo, the company introduced a pass-thru machine that automatically unloaded parts.

This year at the FABTECH show, Kinetic will unveil another technology designed to enhance the productivity of the XMC line. The company will demonstrate this technology at booth number A4812 and advise attendees on how it can improve their firms’ burning and machining processes, as well as save time and money.

Peugh also sees growth for the company. “Because we’ve seen our economy pick up in North America this year, we’re seeing our customers building new buildings to add more capacity,” he says. “We have a lot of customers buying new machines.”

A Significant Advance

Kinetic Cutting Systems utilizes the Hypertherm XPR300 Plasma system on its machines, which “represents the most significant advance in mechanized plasma-cutting technology,” the company says. “This next generation system redefines what plasma can do by expanding its capabilities and opportunities in ways never before possible.

“With unmatched cut quality on mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum, the new XPR300 increases cut speed, dramatically improves productivity and slashes operating costs by over 50 percent,” the firm says. “Improved beveling is another huge benefit with the XPR300, reducing setup time, improving accuracy and producing consistent quality. Kinetic also supports True Hole Technology, which yields superior hole quality.”

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