Another integral part of PTMW’s flexible manufacturing system is the servo-electric punch-laser combo, featuring a 4000-W CO2 laser and a servo-electric turret punch press. The machine integrates punching, forming, tapping and laser cutting in a single unit, and allows PTMW to select the optimum process for the job at hand.
Other benefits include:
• Reduction of piece-part costs—faster punching time, reduction in direct labor assigned to setup and punching, and reduction of number of manual operations;
• Ability to use full sheets, while eliminating the need to shear to size blanks being processed; and
• Increased machine utilization—using an automated load/unload system, unmanned operation can be achieved from load, punch, up-form, laser cut, unload and sort.
On the forming front, PTMW’s servo electric Express Bender has a maximum bending length of 131 in. and a maximum opening height of 8 in. The new construction features actuation of the bending-blade movements (vertical and horizontal) by NC servo axes, rather than hydraulic cylinders. The upper tool movements also are made by an NC servo axis.
“Monday through Friday, we run three 8-hr. shifts,” explains Goff. “Because of its productivity and accuracy, we run as much material through the bender as we can. That machine runs 24/7.”
New Market OpportunitiesWhile railroad applications comprise 70 percent of PTMW’s production, the company has expanded into new markets, including generator houses and data centers for the power-generation industry. “Because of our newly expanded fabrication capabilities,” says Goff, “we’re able to fabricate and assemble larger buildings.”
Adds Ed Carpenter, vice president of external affairs: “The Prima Power equipment has made us much more flexible to produce different kind of parts. Customers in the power industry tend to specify a lot of ‘specials’—every part in the power industry is unique. Now we have the flexibility needed to serve that type of market.”
Goff explains that PTMW is in constant communication with its customers to gauge their particular needs. “We build supplier-managed inventory (SMI),” she says, “and when a customer pulls inventory, we replenish it. That’s why lead times in most cases shrink to the time it takes for delivery. It allows us to manage our people and our materials, and keep the flow as smooth as possible.
“Even though we’ve automated our manufacturing operations,” Goff concludes, “the automation isn’t killing jobs…it’s creating them.” MFArticle provided by Prima Power, Arlington Heights, IL: 847/952 6500, www.primapower.com.
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms
See also: Prima Power North America, Inc.