Professional Fabrications, Inc. is a small fabrication shop in suburban Wisconsin which cuts and forms sheet metal for radiators, generators and other electrical applications. The sheet metal being handled typically measures between 4 and 5 feet wide by 8 to 10 feet long, and is between ¾ to 1 inch thick, often weighing as much as 650 pounds.
When the shop received two new laser cutting machines for it’s fabricating, it began searching for the best way to lift the sheet metal onto the cutting machines. It required the raw sheets to be lifted from the stack where they are delivered, turned to a machine directly behind the operator, and precisely placed on the laser cutting table.
Initially, the company tried moving the sheet metal onto the machine with a fork lift. With this method, placement was too difficult and the fork lifts were bumping into the machines. The company also tried using two operators to lift and position the sheets onto the machine. While positioning was more accurate than with the fork lift, the doubled cost of labor paired with safety hazards that come with such heavy, sharp material eliminated that option.