The Ideal Die-Protection Program
1) A full-time sensor applications specialist (preferably a toolmaker/ machinist) in charge of the sensor program. This is a “take charge” type of job—a no-nonsense, focused and highly skilled person with technical authority to make sure that the sensors are being properly used.
2) A sensor lab strategically located on the shop floor where proving out of the inductive and photoelectric sensors is conducted before they are placed in the tooling. All sensors are fully and professionally tested in simulations of their actual applications.
3) A minimum of 16 sensor inputs on all of the presses that run progressive and transfer dies. The current standard in some shops is 32 sensor inputs. This allows for not just the placement of several sensors in the tooling but also permits specific identification of what sensor failed, not just a general statement on the die-protection control about a cluster of sensors within which one or more sensors detected a fault.
4) An ongoing weekly meeting of the error-proofing technology committee, comprised of a representative from each of the manufacturing disciplines including management, pressroom, toolroom, die engineering/design, quality, maintenance, value added, etc., and the sensor applications specialist.
5) Lifetime technical training for the employees provided by the sensor applications specialist detailing proper uses of sensors and their respective die-protection controls. The shop floor would be fully versed and responsible as to the proper timing issues per sensor and possess a thorough understanding of sensor handling and maintenance issues.
6) Careful documentation of sensor-program progress with photographs of die-crash preventions as well as financial measurables showing the lowering costs of die repair and the costs of quality. Postings of these financial gains would be made on shop-floor bulletin boards to share the successes of the die-protection program.
7) Yearly trips to various trade shows and external training seminars to keep key technical personnel up to speed on the latest developments in die-protection sensors. METALFORM shows and seminars offered by Precision Metalforming Association are an excellent source of training and exposure.
The above are guidelines. Some shops have all of these and more in place, but economic realities make it hard for some shops to adhere to all seven points. But at the least, each of the seven items should be evident in your company to the extent that financial resources permit. For example, your company may not be able to afford a separate, stand-alone sensor lab, but it may be able to set up such a facility within an existing department.
Companies with the foresight to tackle and eliminate die crashes have an advantage in this economy by eliminating most tooling repairs and many quality headaches. Spending a relatively small amount of money for a solid die-protection program can reap enormous rewards. MF
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