Here we see the use of the KAAST Machine Tools Press Brake to engineer new machines to solve old problems.
How does a kid who cleaned shops for cash to upgrade dirt bikes become the CEO of an industry altering company? Hard work, determination, and good tools. 35 years ago, Wade Macadam was that kid. “I cleaned a few shops, the guys who actually worked there took me under their wing and taught me to weld,” Macadam tells. Working his way up from sweeping, to spot welding, and on to full mechanic duties, Macadam learned on the job how machines work and how to improve them. He went on to focus on upgrading machines in the logging industry used on the west coasts of British Columbia, starting his own company, Pro-Fix Maintenance LTD.
Macadam explains how he came to invent and build his now famous Bundle Pro 3, “Western Forest Products had a couple of old log bundling machines that were worn out and needed to be rebuilt. They asked me if we could do it but wanted so many changes in design that I told them we were better off to start from scratch on the design. I designed and built the first one [Bundle Pro 3] in just over 6 months.” The Bundle Pro 3 is quickly becoming a must-have machine when preparing timber for shipment.
“Bundling the logs, or rather, tying them together, is very dangerous work,” Macadam explains. Traditionally, logs are secured into bundles to facilitate transporting by manually wrapping large diameter steel cable around a pile of logs and securing the cable with wedges or crimping. Without the Bundle Pro 3 the operator of the bundling machine must leave the cab of his tractor, exposing him to the inherit risks of the logging lot. More workers are hurt while working on logging sites than any other work site in America. With the use of heavy equipment and the momentum of falling or rolling trees, logging accidents can cause serious injuries or even death. Nearly 50% of non-fatal injuries to logging workers are related to being hit with logs and/or equipment and almost 80% of fatal injuries have the same causes(1). The Bundle Pro 3 carries large spools of cable on the back of the tractor which are fed through the distinctive yellow arms. These arms hug (and feed the cable around) the pile of logs utilizing a remote-control system and several strategically placed cameras. The operator then secures with cable with a hydraulically crimped sleeve. All of this happens without the operator leaving safety and protection of the cab of his machine.
While the Bundle Pro 3 makes quick and easy work of an otherwise daunting task, building the Bundle Pro 3 has had its challenges as well. “We work in shop with a small footprint,” Macadam explains, “we don’t have the space for a CNC press brake. So we were sending out our designs and having other shops make our bends for us.” This need to send brake work out was a bottle-neck in the production of the Bundle Pros, especially during the R&D phase. “When we were working out the kinks in the idea there was a lot of guessing that had to be prototyped to be proven,” Macadam explains, “sometimes you don’t think of a slight adjustment unless you’re there, actively running the material through a machine. These little adjustments make a big difference in the end result.” Macadam and his team quickly realized they needed a brake with adequate tonnage to make their bends, and a small enough footprint to squeeze into their already tight shop.
While perusing the exhibit halls at Fabtech 2018, Macadam came across only one machine that had the power he needed and fit his space constraints, the KAAST HPA-P 100/60. This 230V, 3ph hydraulic workshop press brake features 100 tons of press power across the 60 inches of working space and has opened up ProFix Maintenance’s prototyping capabilities. “My whole crew is able to use this brake,” Macadam says, “the simplicity of the machine operation combined with its tonnage capacity make [the HPA-P] ideal for smaller shops doing prototyping and custom work.” The team at ProFix uses the HPA-P to make many different parts of the Bundle Pro including electrical boxes, control boxes, drip edges, water tanks, hydraulic valve covers, and boxes to hold the supplies for the bundling wire. Many other projects have utilized the HPA-P as well. “We are just finishing rebuilding and upgrading a log loader and formed walkways and doors and tool boxes for that machine,” Macadam explains, “Now we don’t have to wait for the small forming jobs to be done outside, we just do them ourselves.”