A Beam Drill Line is an important tool in medium sized to larger structural fabrication shops. Used to drill holes accurately in a beam, angle or section of bar stock, these machines can make short work of laying out the largest of structural members. Prior to the introduction of the Beam Drill Line the method to produce holes down the length of a beam, bar or angle was to manually layout the beam, and using a manually positioned and operated magnetic based drill, individually drill each hole. This manual method, which is still used today in many start up shops, leaves a large possibility for errors in layout or manual interpretation of prints and drawings. As with any other CNC Machine Tool, the Beam Drill Line can accurately position one or more drills into both the web and flanges of structural steel to prepare its for assembly.  

A Beam Drill Line consists of either of two main design types Beam Drill lines come in a variety of types and sizes. The Traveling Machine Design and the Traveling Beam Design.

Traveling Machine Design(1822) 2007 Ocean Avenger Beam Drill Line - Pic 3-1
The Traveling Machine Design of available Beam Drill Lines is typically used as an entry level CNC system to produce accurate positioning of holes down the full length of a 40’ to 60’ beam or other structural member. These machines “hang” off of a rigid structural frame where the beam is placed and then, literally travel down the length of the beam clamping to it when necessary to perform a drilling cycle. They are designed to be able to process a beam one side at a time (Flange/Web/Flange) and require the beam to be manually flipped for operations on other surfaces. Although they, like their bigger cousins can drill and tap, other operations like slot milling and engraving are either an expensive option or outside of their limited capabilities.

The major advantages to this type of system is the lower investment cost and the relatively space saving design of it (typically 12’ X 65’). The disadvantages are the limited capability of a single spindle (although most of these type systems allow for manual tool changing only, some offer tool changers increasing capability) and the necessity to manually flip the beam up to four times to reach all the required surfaces.

Traveling Beam Design
In higher production applications the Traveling Beam Design machine is used. These Beam Drill Lines can be equipped with auto loaders/unloaders allowing multiple segments of beam, angle or flats to be produced. These (1834) 2010 Ficep 1001DFB Drilling and Sawing Beam Line - Pic 1-1systems incorporate a feeding system which guides these structural members under the main drilling unit which can be equipped with one or more drilling, engraving or other processing heads. These systems can also be incorporated with an integrated sawing system allowing for segments to be cut to the desired length and angle (if equipped with mitering capabilities) providing for a complete processing system in one single setup.

(1834) 2010 Ficep 1001DFB Drilling and Sawing Beam Line - Pic 23The major advantages to this type of system are the capability and throughput. Most every operation can be completed in one setup without re-handling the beam or structural segment (Note: These machines are typically equipped with tool changers to even further increase the automation capability). The main disadvantages to this type of system is the cost (2-4X that of the Traveling Machine Design) and space required (Typically 60’ IN and 40’ OUT using a shop floor space of roughly 20’ X 120’ or more).

When deciding on a Beam Drill Line that works best for your operation careful consideration should be paid to not only the investment costs and space requirements, but also to the throughput needed as the Traveling Beam Design machines can outproduce the Traveling Machine Design by a factor of Ten Times or more due the the available automation and lack of human intervention required on the latter. At Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales, Inc we are specialists in structural fabrication machinery and the structural fabricating Process. We have many options available in both designs that are not only affordable but very capable too. Give us a call to discuss your structural fabricating machinery needs today at 813-44-4555 or visit us on the web at www.southernfabsales.com to learn more.

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