Olympic Steel’s Buford, Ga. plant relies on four “workhorse” Mitsubishi lasers to cut component parts for OEMs in the Southeast.
With 44 locations and 2,000 employees, Olympic Steel is a leading U.S. metal service center that specializes in processed carbon, coated and stainless flat-rolled sheet, coil and plate steel, aluminum, tin plate, and metal-intensive branded products.
The public company (Nasdaq: ZEUS) views Mitsubishi Laser (a division of Chicago-based MC Machinery Systems, a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corp.) as a partner that can take it “into the future,” said Jamie Esway, general manager of the Buford and Winder, Ga. facilities.
“We service a broad stroke in the marketplace thanks to the Mitsubishi lasers and the quality that comes off the machines,” said Esway. “Mitsubishi and its continual development of automation and AI technologies to make laser processing more efficient and effective is really important to Olympic Steel.”
The Buford plant also has a Mitsubishi hybrid press brake and two SmartFlex Rapid Tower automated sheet loading systems. Olympic Steel currently uses Mitsubishi lasers and automation at six of its U.S. plants.
Si Cha, plant manager of the Buford location’s Fabrication Division, said the Mitsubishi GX-F ADVANCED lasers are the plant’s “workhorses” that they can count on for burning high-quality precision carbon steel parts that meet their customers’ demanding requirements.
One of the most valuable features of the GX-F ADVANCED fiber laser has been its artificial intelligence capability, which Cha said has led to better calibration and consistent lights-out operation.
The proprietary Mitsubishi gas-reduction technology (called AGR-eco), which can reduce nitrogen consumption by up to 77 percent, has led to lower operational costs.
“We’re excited with all of the things that Mitsubishi Laser is bringing to the marketplace because it helps us achieve our goals of being profitable and having sustainable growth,” Cha said.
Two SmartFlex Rapid Tower automation systems have helped Olympic Steel maintain high production even with a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers. Not only that, it increases shop floor efficiency, said Cha.
The automated sheet loaders, which have an industry-leading 52-second load/unload cycle time, have helped them become more efficient in loading/unloading the lasers and transferring material.
Training, Applications and Service
Cha said that MC Machinery has been “phenomenal” in teaching their employees how to operate lasers with new technologies.
The MC Machinery Service Department has been a key reason why Olympic Steel has invested in Mitsubishi Laser’s equipment for 13 years.
“Anybody can sell you a laser, but can they service it?,” Cha said. “That’s been a big part of why we have stuck with Mitsubishi Laser.”
Application support has also been important.
“If you have issues and concerns, you give them a call and you talk to a live person, not an automated machine,” Cha said. “You talk to an applications or service person who knows your problems, who has experienced your problems, and they can share their wealth of knowledge to eliminate any issues. The service technicians who come here are very professional–they get the job done and, not only that, they explain what caused an issue and how to prevent it.”