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Turret Punch Presses: Slash Setup, Maximize Uptime

By: Lou Kren

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
 

Turret punch presses have long faced a challenge: setup time. Obstacles to rapid setup have held back this technology from meeting its full potential. The problem has even led to more rapid adoption of pressroom technologies such as laser cutters. But these days turret punch presses ramp up quickly to full production, and offer the ability to monitor performance, thus allowing the machines to become production juggernauts.

Motorum 33-ton machine
The latest turret punch presses employ features to ease setup and ensure continuing production. For example, the human-machine interface on this Motorum 33-ton machine from Muratec USA assists the operator with tooling selection, program scheduling and more.
That’s the take from Donald Angel, lead applications engineer from Muratec Machinery USA, Inc., Charlotte, NC. MetalForming recently discussed turret-press setup and productivity improvements with Angel, and he offers insight into the whys and hows of their improvement.

Setup Time Historically Lengthy

“The biggest challenge with turret punch presses has always been keeping them running,” Angel says. “That is one reason why lasers became so popular; no tool setup save for some nozzles and some other minor things, but in general, lasers would run longer and require less setup time.

“Entering a job shop where users employ a variety of materials on a variety of parts, we wouldn’t see the turret presses running,” he continues. “Why? It’s due to setup. Users have a lot to undertake in order to start jobs: manage the tooling, load the correct programs, manage the job paperwork, set die clearances, locate and stage the correct material, etc.”

Automation to the Rescue

screenshot shows rocess time, standby time and alarm tie
This screenshot shows process time, standby time and alarm time on a particular machine, allowing management to develop a plan to target problem areas and improve production levels.
Facing this, equipment suppliers have sought solutions to allow job shops to better manage setup, thus enabling more green-light time on the machines.

For example, Angel notes, Muratec has integrated software into the turret press’ control that routes to the customer’s network. Arrangements such as these allow programs to transfer to machine controls simply, rapidly feeding tool info, material, work-order information and more, all of which can be quickly accessed by operators.

“In the past, operators had to look at the setup sheets and compare those to the tools in the machine,” says Angel. “That is prone to error…and if something was missed during setup, the machine would produce bad parts. Now, the software tells operators, via an interface, what tools must be changed, and keeps track of what tools are in the turret. With this type of system, whenever operators change a tool, they press a button to send that information to the turret layout residing in the machine control. This eliminates the need to search for the correct tools. Tooling can be set for one program, or multiple programs can be scheduled and automatically downloaded to the press. Previously, a lack of machine memory would have meant deleting each program before a new one could be added, with no ability for automatic scheduling. Now, when one job ends, the next can start right up.”

Beyond minimizing time needed for setup, the ability to automatically program a turret punch press and place job, part and tool information directly in front of the operator reduces the likelihood of errors.

screen shot of process time
This screenshot of process time—when the machine is running—enables a broad view of machine capacity levels and production trends, and with multiple machines, allows better load balancing across the shop.
Turret punch presses today also benefit from the ability to closely monitor tooling. For older machines, “users did not always know the condition of tools,” Angel says. “Machines would run until bad parts were produced, then the tooling would be checked. Today, automated tool monitoring tracks the hit counts on punches and dies, and during scheduled maintenance periods, the tooling can be checked and sharpened if need be.”

Optimized Production on One or Many Machines

With machine setup and tool monitoring now automated and streamlined, turret punch presses spend more time producing good parts rather than sitting idle or churning out scrap. But there’s more. Today’s machines can be monitored accurately and easily, enabling management to better plan production.

“We walk into fabrication shops and ask what the production rate is on a turret punch press,” explains Angel. “The user will look at cycle times and decide that a particular machine is in use 85 percent of the time. But in reality that machine is producing parts 20 to 25 percent of the time. Users just don’t seem to have a handle on it.”

Numbers don’t lie, and new-generation machines provide the ability to accurately gauge machine productivity.

“Software can analyze information from the machine control, such as when it’s running, when it’s off, and when alarms occurred and why, then crunch those numbers to create useful, manageable data,” Angel says, detailing one such system, Muratec’s ProcessNet. “Management can track that and analyze trends over weeks and months, or identify the common alarms, and from that then target areas for production improvement. Or, a snapshot can indicate what machines are down and why.

“With an accurate understanding of production levels, manufacturers can better determine capacity needs,” he continues. “If a company runs a number of turret presses, it can measure productivity across all of them and perhaps undertake load balancing to improve productivity.” MF

 

See also: Muratec Murata Machinery USA, Inc.

Related Enterprise Zones: Fabrication


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