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Sheet Metal

unattended sorting applied to
sheet metal cutting technologies



A4SORT avoids palletizing mistakes

A4SORT reduces wastage and non-conformities with relevant non quality costs

A4SORT optimizes internal handling activities

A4SORT reduces wastage of prime materials and unmanaged semi-finished products

A4SORT reduces production batches

A4SORT reduces machine and man waiting times

A4SORT assures constant cutting process monitoring
ASTES4SORT (A4SORT) is a worldwide patented "Intelligent FMS" (Flexible Manufacturing System) specifically designed for sorting. A4SORT manages the loading of sheet metal up to 20mm thickness and 8000 mm length and the sorting of single cut parts generated by 2D cutting machines. A4SORT is able to sort, move and stack cut parts of any shape, placing and kitting them for further use.

Fields of application
A4SORT easily integrates with the manufacturing process of different application fields. A4SORT is especially suited to complement laser-cutting systems where specific requests due to the increasing number of installations, flexibility in parts shapes and material thickness are required.
Layout and system engineering
A4SORT can be docked to new and/or already existing cutting systems. Due to its modularity, A4SORT can be easily installed in already-operative production sites. A4SORT effortlessly interfaces to automatic warehouses where sheet metal plates and cut parts pallets can be positioned. All this according to the “Intelligent FMS’ (Flexible manufacturing Systems)” logic.
The modularity of ASTES4SORT can be exploited to design a system that can be implemented with automatic warehouses in subsequent steps, with the advantage of allowing controlled investment steps
Manufacture in unmanned mode
A4SORT is applicable to all cutting processes where controlled, ruled and traceable production is required. A4SORT is the combination of most advanced handling and picking technologies, managed by powerful software able to grant maximum flexibility, productivity and repeatability integrated with ERP systems.
The system is equipped with all functional and safety checks to ensure continuity of work during unmanned shifts.A4SORT cancels out human error in the management of cut material, registers information and manages alarm situations resulting from any inaccurate cuts caused and not handled by the cutting machine, so avoiding waste of material and resources.A4SORT automatically removes from the cutting deck any waste parts that stay “welded” to the ends of the grilles.

A4SORT consists of four cartesian grippers mounted on a mechanical double gantry structure. One pair of grippers is mounted on each gantry. A4SORT is fitted with machine software capable of controlling and making most effective use of the 4 grippers, the tool magazine and all system functions.This mechanical solution, comparable to a sort of cartesian robot with four self-configuring gripping units, enables the system to adapt to the available space and the application requirements; the selection of tool (or tools) for the item’s pick-up point and place point in the storage area is fully automated, with the option to modify them according to specific manufacturing requirements, using simple management SW HMI’s.
The gripping tools are simple and provide the operational flexibility required to unload and easily stack the widest range of items, solving the greatest limitation of common automation systems. Depending on the size of the items and the speed of the work flow, the system chooses how many of the 4 grippers to use.
The selection of tool (or tools) for the item’s points of pick-up and place in the storage area is fully automated. It is still possible though to access and modify this data to suit specific manufacturing requirements, using simple management SW HMI.
Items that are complex in shape and particularly bulky can be picked up using two synchronized grippers that are programmed to ensure that these items are kept in the proper position and enable them to be unloaded and stacked independently of cutting nesting lay out.
A software program enables the work pieces shape complexity, weight and thickness to be “actively controlled”. This helps to ensure the removal from the frame of all the laser-cut parts, which can also be picked up using a combination of all 4 grippers.
The concept of interchangeable gripping tools is at the heart of the A4SORT patent. Through the combination of an ingenious system of electro-pneumatic picking, these ensure the flexibility required for easy unloading and stacking of the widest range of work pieces, decisively out performing all common automation systems.
A4SORT can be interfaced and integrated with all systems and brands of cutting machines and warehouses, whether newly installed or existing.

A4SORT captures files in the standard formats (e.g. ISO, DXF, DWG etc.) generated by CAD-CAM systems.

A4SORT does not require the use of a programmer and is run by user-friendly software.

A4SORT optimizes manufacturing efficiency:
A4SORT manages scrap. The cut items are completely separated from the waste (cut without micro-joints) and the whole scrap frame is unloaded with comb forks or, adequately split up, unloaded into a crate in pieces. Materials intended for recycling can be separated by type automatically.

A4SORT is the only system that can also use magnetic tools in addition to the traditional suction cups. The different magnets used by A4SORT can lift up very thick metal sheets (over 50 mm thick), with a great number of holes, complex shapes and long narrow strips etc...

Lower energy consumption:

A4SORT is capable of unmanned operation. This means that the cutting program can be regulated over 3 work shifts, with a clear financial benefit from increased manufacturing capacity and the consequent gain in competitiveness.

A4SORT ensures on-time delivery to the customer due to reliable manufacturing timescales, which are not affected by the work force human factor.