Rieman: taking a leap of faith

Rieman: taking a leap of faith

PythonX technology upgrade pays off

A technology upgrade to a seven-axis robotically-controlled plasma cutting system paid off tenfold for the US steel fabricator. A case study.

January 2019

Faced with multiple challenges, Anderson Steel, a third-generation, family-owned structural steel facility based in Great Falls, Montana (US), wanted to grow its business.

After visiting a number of different fabrication shops in the US and Canada, Bob Reiman, Anderson Steel’s Vice President of Operations, approached his management team about purchasing new technology.

Operator programming the PythonX for beam production

Operator programming the PythonX for beam production

A technology that could improve productivity for the Montana-based steel fabricator by minimising handling and manual operations; replace traditional stand-alone beam line with new technology; increase production and reduce rework; and reduce material handling.

With these tasks in hand, Reiman knew the only way to achieve results was to automate the production process. 



Reiman’s decision about purchasing the PythonX was met with a balance of real-world economics of a significant investment, especially since the 2002 traditional stand-alone beam line that it would replace hadn’t yet fully depreciated. Technological advances can sometimes outpace a depreciation schedule. For Anderson Steel, taking a leap of faith resulted in a significant reward by choosing the industry leading steel fabrication system PythonX from Burlington Automation Corporation (Hamilton, Ontario), a Lincoln Electric (Cleveland, Ohio) company.



The all-in-one PythonX robotic CNC plasma structural steel fabrication system replaces a traditional stand-alone beam line as well as several other machines, said Reiman.

The PythonX system uses a robotically-controlled plasma torch to cut holes, copes, weld prep on flanges – all of the processes that typically required drawing interpretation, layouts, and cutting by hand with torches. The system also cuts beams to the proper length and replaces the conventional stand-alone beam line, drill line, coping machine, and, in many cases, saws.



Since installing the system, Anderson has seen substantial increase in production and reduced operating cost. The company has, for instance, seen 42 per cent net savings on wear parts.

The PythonX also offers dramatic productivity improvements by eliminating the handling that is usually required between each of those operations. “Producing an infill beam in the Anderson Steel shop once would have taken up to two hours. Now it only takes four minutes to ten minutes, depending on its complexity,” Reiman said.

Acquiring the PythonX also allowed the shop to take on larger and more complex projects and reduce the need for rework. The average project size for the company has gone up: from 50 tonne to 100 tonne jobs, it is now doing 1,500 tonne projects without any issues in the shop, he stated.

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