Other efficiency gains at Argon come in the form of placement and customization. “The compact size (17 by 19 ft.) of the bender allow us to place a spot welding unit or a PEM-insertion unit next to the machine,” Clement says. “We added an additional door on our machine so that as formed parts progress through the unit, an operator can use the door to access the part to add a spot welded bracket or PEM inserts without increasing cycle time.”
Additional automation opportunities may come soon, says Clement. “We can add a robotic load and unload to the panel bender to achieve one-piece flow.”
Advanced Bending Provides Profit Potential
Like Argon, more metal formers are profiting by adding efficiency to their panel-bending operations, says Peter Kitzler, sales & application engineering at Salvagnini Maschinenbau GmbH, Ennsdorf, Austria. During his 32 years in the industry, Kitzler has seen a steady progression of panel-bending advancements geared around improving part flow, from compact panel benders like the one used at Argon, to fully standalone panel benders that feed and unload automatically onto an integrated flexible manufacturing system.
With the compact panel benders, which require an operator to feed and unload the part, “profit potential exists when you line up other process such as punching and shearing, laser cuting, welding, clinching, etc., as well as automated storage and retrieval, ” says Kitzler. “Even greater efficiencies come from using automated systems that integrate products to one-piece designs and bend the parts on all four sides. This lessens work-in-process and intermediate stacking of parts.
“Another reason for automating panel bending: Manual systems depend on difficult-to-find skilled operators,” Kitzler continues. “Not so with automated panel-bending systems. While other processes such as laser cutting and punching are automated for the most part, there remains a lot of potential for automation when it comes to bending.” MF
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms
See also: Salvagnini America, Inc.