NOWADAYS IT'S CALLED 'RANCH DRESSING'
Whether raising poultry or cattle or growing wheat, soybeans, corn or sugarcane, one thing farmers and ranchers have in common is their drive for greater cutting and gouging productivity on the land. Another is their use of portable plasma cutting tools to save time and money in metal fabrication and repair jobs wherever they take place, some in the shed and some in the fields.
If there is one truth in stations, farming and ranching, it’s that the business is constantly changing. That’s as true as ever, as prices for agricultural products constantly swing in the tumult of the global economy. But even when prices are high, the threat of unexpected always looms... Bad weather, flooding, rising costs and station owners, farmers and ranchers can never take good times for granted.
Amid this uncertainty, one thing remains constant: farmers and ranchers are always looking for ways to increase their productivity. Whether it means getting greater yields per acre of land, feeding more stock without hiring more hands or simply getting more done by nightfall, productivity always matters.
To deliver these advances, companies that supply farmers are investing heavily in research and development. Like John Deere, Case Holland, Massey Ferguson and others just to name a few big brands, however, plasma system manufacturers are also continuing to invest in developing new technologies to make farmers more productive to quickly and easily cut and gouge metal.
Whether they know it or not, most farmers already use products that were manufactured with plasma in factories. Chances are good that their barns, sheds, tractors, combines, storage tanks and other fabricated metal products, from fences and spreaders to balers and plows, manufactured with the help of plasma. Farmers themselves can also reap productivity benefits by using plasma tools in the paddocks. Some of today’s advanced plasma tools are highly portable, very powerful and exceptionally versatile machines – characteristics which makes them perfect on the farm. These attributes also give today’s plasma systems significant advantages over traditional oxy-acetylene or Oxy-PLG cutting and older plasma machines.
One of the most appealing characteristics of today’s plasma is its versatility. Plasma’s ability to cut different metal types, including mild steel, stainless steel, Aluminium and more, is one of the technology’s key advantages. Also important is the fact that plasma can cut through dirty, painted and even rusted metals without any pre-work. These capabilities provide a significant advantage over oxyfuel, which is ineffective on materials other than mild steel and performs poorly on dirty, painted or oxidized materials. Plasma also cuts metal grate, a common material used around large properties and farming, in fact - it is far faster, easier and safer than other cutting tools.
Plasma’s ability to transition easily from the shop to the field also provides a compelling advantage for farmers. Some plasma systems may be run on power as low as 240v, which makes them a good option for use in the shop, barn or garage. Today’s lighter, more portable systems may be easily transported from one location to another with a weight of the system down to as low as 10kg including leads, and may easily be carried up a ladder, stairwell to access high areas on top of machinery or grain silos. But since not all cutting needs are close to home, today’s best plasma systems may also be run on generators without any degradation in performance.
Plasma’s ability to gouge metals is also useful around the farm; it is an effective substitute for carbon arc, oxy-fuel gouging or grinding wheels for certain applications. Plasma gouging is a good solution for a variety of equipment repair and maintenance jobs, where existing welds or rivet heads need to be removed to prepare for replacement part installation especially around ripper tines and other ground-engaging implements. Plasma can also be used for back-gouging applications for weld preparation – great for the many custom fabrication jobs that a farm requires. A subset of farmers may also appreciate the ability to cut metal using automated tools. Again, today’s plasma delivers. Whether mounted on a small X-Y cutting table for cutting parts or ornamental designs or used in conjunction with a pipe cutting tool, the ability to perform a wide variety of jobs makes versatility valuable.
Inverter-based power supplies have dramatically shrunk the size of today’s advanced plasma systems. In recent years, size and weight reductions of 30 – 50 % have not been uncommon from one plasma model to the next from the same plasma manufacturer. These advances have made plasma much more portable, even while performance continues to improve. Other improvements that further improve portability such as single-handle designs and shoulder straps for easy transport are possible with today’s smaller lighter systems.
Today’s leading plasma systems are able to deliver a lot of power in their small packages. The best systems deliver superior quality cuts at fast speeds with high duty cycles (run times) on various thicknesses. Many farmers find that a plasma system designed to cut metals up to ½ in (12 mm) or ¾ (19 mm) meets their needs.
For those unfamiliar with plasma and especially for oxyfuel users, the fact that plasma provides the power to cut and pierce with no preheating of the metal is especially noteworthy. Gauging a plasma system’s power is not as easy as simply looking at the product’s output amperage. Some brands of plasma systems actually deliver higher performance with less amperage than systems from other manufacturers. While more amperage may look attractive on a product brochure, what really matters is what level of performance – including cut capacity, duty cycle, and cut quality – the systems deliver.
While many plasma tools deliver on one or two of the benefits described above, only a handful deliver the portability, power and versatility that makes for an ideal productivity tool. For example, a powermax 45xp combines all three in a way that may make it the best choice for many farmers. At only 37lb (16kg), it is very portable, yet it still delivers fast, high-quality cuts on metals up to ¾ in (19 mm) thick, and can sever even thicker metals up to 1in (25 mm).
It also includes a proprietary Boost Conditioner circuit that improves performance on low-line or fluctuating input power, including on motor generators. It’s a highly versatile tool as well, able to perform cutting and gouging applications on multiple metal types, in various locations using either a handheld or mechanized cutting torch. Plus it runs on compressed air, which is particularly attractive in light of rising gas costs.
Whether raising poultry or cattle, growing wheat or soybeans, corn or sugarcane, one thing farmers have in common is their drive for greater productivity. With the latest generation of portable, powerful, versatile plasma systems, farmers can get more of their cutting and gouging work done, in less time, at a lower cost than ever before – making plasma a true productivity tool no matter what farm.
HOW PLASMA CUTTING WORKS!
Plasma is created by applying electrical energy to a gas, such as air or nitrogen, which increases its temperature significantly. Plasma’s intense heat melts metal and the high-pressure air blows the molten metal away, leaving an edge with good quality that minimizes the need for secondary operations. Some plasma systems are also effective for gouging metal. Certain models are highly portable and require only power and compressed air to operate. They are easy to use, and even first-time operators can achieve good results within minutes of operation.
ONE SOURCE - MANY APPLICATIONS!
Plasma may be used for cutting off the corroded, worn or damaged metal on bailers, harvesters, spreaders and other pieces of equipment; for fabricating and repairing corrals, gates and fences; and even for gouging metal for weld preparation or weld repair. Silo repair, including glass-lined silo panels, is a good application for a plasma cutter. While an oxyfuel flame creates a mess of glass and metal, a plasma system cuts cleanly through, with no mess and good speed.
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