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Industry Metal


ASTES4HEAVY: handling & sorting
automation technology applied
to large and thick metal sheet cutting


Production Plus

A4HEAVY has long time unmanned production capacity

A4HEAVY assures maximum safety for operators

A4HEAVY works with highest safety for heavy metal plates and cut parts handling

A4HEAVY assures traceability and kitting for sequent working steps

A4HEAVY exploits completely the metal plates by performing multiple orders on the same plate

A4HEAVY stocks and recalls pallets to complete production batches or working step kits
ASTES4HEAVY (A4HEAVY) is an "Intelligent FMS" (Flexible Manufacturing System) – patented worldwide - specifically designed for handling & sorting applications. A4HEAVY manages loading of sheet metal over 20mm thickness and over 8000 mm length and the sorting of single cut parts created by 2D Plasma and oxyfuel cutting machines, CO2 and fiberlaser up to the thickness allowed from this technology. A4HEAVY is able to sort, move and stack cut parts of any shape, placing and kitting them for further use.

Field of application
Big metal plates used in heavy metal construction like bridges, ships, earth movement machines, oil & gas constructions are not a problem for A4HEAVY. A4HEAVY handles big plates with thickness over 50 mm and length over 18 meters and weights over 15 tons. This makes it the global handling and intelligent sorting solution for metal plates for major projects.
Layout and system engineering
A4HEAVY is specially designed for plates over 8 meters length. Projects with plates of 12m length and 50 mm thickness or 18m length and 25 mm thickness. Main cutting technologies are wet and dry plasma and oxyfuel thickness over 25 mm and fiber laser cutting for lower thickness. A4HEAVY is able to label the parts before cutting, ensuring traceability of cut parts for further welding and assembling steps. Scrap management by software cutting patterns, with its disposal in dedicated boxes, makes the process simpler and safer.

A4HEAVY becomes especially powerful in combination with warehouses for plates and cut parts, optimizing production and reducing handling of big heavy plates, intrinsically dangerous. A4HEAVY can be applied to existing installations and can be tailored according to workshop layouts. ASTES4 technical department is able to study optimized layouts for every customer, integrated with automatic warehouses following the Intelligent FMS (Flexible Manufacturing Systems) logic.

Modularity of ASTES4HEAVY can be exploited to design a tailored system that can be integrated with automatic warehouses in subsequent steps, with the advantage to permit controlled step-by-step investments.
Unmanned mode Manufacturing
A4HEAVY is applicable to all cutting processes where controlled, orderly and traceable production is required. A4HEAVY 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. A4HEAVY cancels out human error in the management of cut material, records information and manages alarm situations resulting from any inaccurate cuts caused, but not detected by the cutting machine, so avoiding waste of material and resources. A4HEAVY automatically removes from the cutting deck any waste components that are “welded” to the ends of the grilles.

A4HEAVY consists of at least four Cartesian grippers mounted on a mechanical double gantry structure. One pair of grippers is mounted on each gantry. A4HEAVY is fitted with machine software capable of controlling and making most effective use of grippers, the tool magazine and all system functions. This mechanical solution, comparable to a sort of Cartesian robot with at least 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 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.
A4HEAVY can be interfaced and integrated with all systems and brands of cutting machines and warehouses, whether newly installed or existing.

A4HEAVY captures files in the standard formats (e.g. ISO, DXF, DWG etc.) generated by CAD-CAM systems.

A4HEAVY does not require the use of a programmer and is run by user-friendly software.
A4HEAVY optimizes manufacturing efficiency:
A4HEAVY 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 may be split up and unloaded into a crate in pieces. Materials intended for recycling can be separated by type automatically.

A4HEAVY is the only system that can also use magnetic tools in addition to the traditional suction cups. The different magnets used by A4S can lift up and easily handle very thick sheet iron (over 50 mm thick), with a great number of holes, complex shapes and long narrow strips etc.

A4HEAVY reduces energy consumption:

A4HEAVY 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.

A4HEAVY ensures on-time delivery to the customer due to reliable manufacturing timescales, which are not influenced by work force human factor.