Cutting-Edge Technology: Harnessing the Power of Water

Written by Pauline Müller

“Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water.
Yet, to attack the hard and strong,
Nothing surpasses it.
Nothing can take its place.” — Lao Tzu

The famous sixth-century BC philosopher, Lao Tzu, notably reminded the world that while water is eternally yielding, it can wear away hard materials like stone. WARDJet— the waterjet brand of AAG Tailored Cutting Solutions—harnesses this tremendously powerful characteristic in its waterjet CNC machines, renowned worldwide for strength, quality, and flexibility.

WARDJet waterjets’ dependability and precision make these machines even more highly sought-after. Supported by teams of technical experts across Canada, the USA, the UK, and Poland, the company specializes in custom research and development focusing on its clients’ unique needs. The company’s two North American facilities boast around 80,000 square feet each, with CNC routers manufactured in the Burlington, Ontario facility and waterjets at the Tallmadge, Ohio site.

“For thirty years, we have been designing routers, knives, and modular CNC machinery that can be purpose-built to our client’s needs. Our global team of technical experts provide direct support to ensure our customers optimize their production,” says Chief Executive Officer Luke Hansen-MacDonald.

One of its best features is that WARDJet machines easily integrate with existing robotics, conveyor systems, or vision systems. This aspect is especially attractive for medium-sized companies that benefit from the significant cost savings this offers. This is because the modular design allows for near-endless configuration, making it possible to upgrade operations in stages to optimize production.

WARDJet is uniquely positioned with a large research and development department to offer capabilities like no other product of its kind. There is nothing generic about a WARDJet waterjet and all are designed and produced in Ohio, U.SA. While its full range can cut anything from steel to six-inch titanium, glass, and stone, the brand is also proud to offer the widest range of waterjets to effortlessly glide through softer materials like foam, rubber, and textiles.

The company’s research and development team works closely with customers so that the final product does what it should do and performs to the client’s desired output, something that is impossible with generic machines. For example, WARDJet has a product line tailored to foam and rubber processing. This product line has bespoke features that optimize production and reduce waste.

What makes waterjet cutting preferable to other cutting methods is its versatility and low heat generation. This makes it especially attractive to manufacturing in the aerospace, automotive, prototyping and advanced materials industries which all need to cut a variety of specialized, sensitive materials with different densities.

In contrast to laser and plasma cutting methods, waterjet cutting does not generate high temperatures. Heat can often be undesirable as it adversely affects the integrity of the materials to which it is applied, often on a molecular level.

Hansen-MacDonald also explains that, for cutting harder materials such as metal and stone, an abrasive is added to the cutting stream, strengthening and accelerating the erosion process.

Because AAG does its own sales and service, customers have direct access to knowledgeable, industry-focused technical specialists to assist with all types of support. For example, the team has been working with foam converting customers for decades and have built extensive knowledge of their specific needs.

WARDJet recently launched the Apex 60, a 5-Axis waterjet cutting head. This innovation creates beautifully cut three-dimensional shapes and bevel cutting. Even better than its technology is the price; the unit is much more affordable than most would imagine for such incredible quality. It can also be configured with any of the WARDJet range of products. The Apex 60 5-Axis head “was designed by our amazing engineering team in Ohio. Special thanks to our engineers Kyle, Jimmy, and Rob,” says Hansen-MacDonald.

It is not just technology that this company takes seriously. Service and building solid relationships are also important features of its culture. When you buy from WARDJet, “you aren’t just buying a machine; you are buying a partnership with our team. Our purpose-built products provide output levels that cannot be achieved by cookie-cutter machines,” Hansen-MacDonald adds.

WARDJet products and support teams contributed to safer communities in a big way during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Online forums, free webinars, and sales incentives were launched to help customers adapt to manufacturing personal protection equipment (PPE) and other essential goods. “My team is why we survived. We support a lot of essential industries from medical equipment, energy to defence. They were unbelievably brave and tenacious. We spent a lot of time focusing on helping customers retool to produce PPE and medical supplies,” Hansen-MacDonald says.

With such dedication at the epicentre of the firm’s success, it comes as no surprise that it is the AAG team of 250 employees around the world that makes the company so successful. Celebrating 30 years of CNC innovation and expertise, their depth of knowledge is a big driver behind customer satisfaction across industries. As a result, the company avoided large-scale layoffs. While the decision was hard, management now recognizes this as the correct course of action in the long term as it protected what it calls its ‘bench strength.’

Transparency is the key to retaining high motivation within WARDJet and all the other AAG brands. To achieve this, Hansen-MacDonald hosts a large, monthly online meeting of thirty minutes to keep staff informed of company events and news occurring in all their locations world-wide.

Staff also benefit from educational support as well as rotating through different positions throughout the firm so that everyone understands all aspects of the business and its products. Monthly donations to local charities are made consistently by staff, who are then eligible to win raffle prizes like a paid day off, gift cards, and other surprises.

The result of all this carefully applied cultivation is a close-knit group of genuinely caring people who like to extend their generosity beyond the company. At the end of the year, donations are matched by the company and donated to a charity in the region.

Looking at the rest of 2021 and beyond, AAG’s WARDJet team is positive that COVID-19 will be followed by strong economic growth globally. As local manufacturing grows, an increasing number of small-to-medium-sized firms are looking to WARDJet for quality modular automation at decent prices and great support service, but there is much more great news on its way.

“We are very excited to head into Industry 4.0 with our new internet of things (IoT) platform. This will allow customers to access valuable sensor data via the cloud to optimize their productivity. More information will come on this release later this year,” says Hansen-MacDonald. As customers invest in not only WARDJet machines but rather WARDJet partnerships, the future is looking rosy.



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