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Revitalizing a Used Mechanical Power Press, Part 6: Who will Drive; Where is the Road Map?

Friday, July 01, 2011
 

There is no shortage of auctioned mechanical presses, available for pennies on the dollar. And while the previous five installments of this series addressed the press-related issues that must be addressed when bringing a used press to your shop floor, I often wonder how qualified shop operators, setters and maintenance personnel are to operate and maintain newly acquired used press.

Are your shop’s pressroom personnel up to the task of running a press that may be radically different from any other press on the shop floor? Just how do they go about maximizing the performance of this new arrival? Here are a few guidelines.

1) Create a technical library. If you want to see some of the most puzzled looks in a stamping shop, ask where the equipment manuals are located. The answers are coupled with lots of hand waving and hemming and hawing. “They may be in maintenance...no wait, they are up in engineering...come to think of it, we really have not seen any manuals in years,” is the likely reply. Shops should maintain a centralized and well-maintained technical library for all equipment, a place to go when questions arise about the proper operation/maintenance of any piece of equipment.

This proves particularly important for newly acquired used presses. Make every effort to track down not only the manuals for each press, but also any technical updates. This should be easy to do if the manufacturer remains in business; if not, an Easter-egg hunt results, involving searches on Google and EBay, and phone calls to press rebuilders and the like.

Why such a need? Well, everything from the proper counterbalance adjustments to the parallelism of the ram to the critical angle for the brakes, etc., are clearly delineated within these manuals. Without the press manufacturer’s data how do you know what the proper press setup and maintenance parameters should be?

2) Invest in schooling. If the press manufacturer is still in business, send your pressroom and maintenance personnel to them for training related to the newly acquired used press. The manufacturer also may be able to conduct training inhouse at your location. In addition, there are independent press rebuilders and consultants who offer such training.

Just imagine the confusion on the part of your technical staff when faced with a press that differs greatly from any other press they have ever worked on or operated.

3) Use a fine-tooth comb. Sometimes, company pride can prevent the hiring of an outsider to perform the necessary technology audits of a newly acquired used mechanical press. When a company lacks the required internal expertise and skills, there is great value in hiring a professional press rebuilder to take an honest look at your newly acquired used press. Why wait until the press enters full production to learn that it may be mechanically unsound?

As soon as possible after installing the used press in your shop, use a fine-toothed comb to ferret out any mechanical issues inapparent during the auction process. Better to discover and repair any problems before the press is fully committed to production runs, where a malfunction may damage not only the press but the tooling as well.

4) Carefully document performance. Once the newly acquired used press is placed into the pressroom production environment, carefully document several parameters during its lifetime, including ram parallelism, accuracy of ram shut-height indicator, tonnage distribution across the ram surface, and the critical stopping time/critical angle once the brake is applied. In fact, shops would be wise to document these parameters for all presses. Proper, timely preventive maintenance requires feedback from the floor to alert personnel to major mechanical-performance deviations.

Be no less careful about what appears to be a bargain when purchasing a used mechanical power press than you would be when purchasing an automobile. At least when purchasing a used car you likely will be able to open the hood, kick the tires and take it for a test drive. Hard to do this with a press during an auction, which compares to buying a movie after having only viewed a still-frame photo from the film. MF

 


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