Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Pneumatic Conveyors Serving Two High-Production Presses

July 28, 2021


Scrap—unsightly, expensive and often time-consuming to remove —can limit productivity in stamping plants. Solutions often lie in carefully engineered material-handling systems designed to quickly move scrap to a central location and ultimately reduce the number of vehicles and employees needed to move smaller loads of scrap.

Photo A Vibro TransporterThat’s the case at the manufacturing plants of Morrison Products, a producer of air-handling components such as fans, blower wheels, impellers and propellers. While Morrison operates facilities in Cleveland, OH, Canton, GA, Dallas, TX, and Monterrey, Mexico, it’s the Georgia plant we focus on here. That’s where we find veteran maintenance supervisor John Dobson, who speaks volumes about the performance of a pair of scrap-handling systems serving two of the biggest-producing stamping presses working in the plant’s pressroom. The presses in question: 100- and 400-ton Niagara models that run practically nonstop during their production shifts.

“The 100-ton utility or general-purpose press,” says Dobson, “runs at speeds to 60 strokes/min. and can produce as much as 3000 lb. of scrap/day over two shifts. While most of the material we process is 0.040-in.-thick galvanized steel, that particular press runs heavier gauge 0.090-in.-thick material to stamp large washers. And, while the 400-ton press, which runs at speeds to 36 strokes/min., doesn’t produce anywhere near that much scrap, the parts it runs wind up producing very small pieces of scrap. In both cases we require a reliable scrap-handling system to move the scrap efficiently away from the presses, eliminate manual labor associated with scrap handling and keep forklifts out of what can wind up being fairly congested areas of our pressroom.”

Pneumatic Conveyor Defines Dependability

“We run nine straightside mechanical presses here,” says plant manager Stephen Renz, “seven 100-ton presses and two 400-ton presses. But as John notes, we initially targeted the two highest-volume producers for automating the scrap-removal process. However, we recently completed a ‘scrap challenge’ companywide to survey scrap removal from most of the other presses, to eliminate ergonomic concerns with manual scrap handling and also to keep forklifts away from congested areas near the presses.”

Music to Dobson’s ears—and likely the ears of any plant maintenance supervisor’s—is any equipment that serves for years upon years, with little to no maintenance concerns beyond what’s recommended by the supplier. That’s exactly what Dobson notes when describing the pneumatic shaker-style conveyors (Transporter models from Vibro Industries) serving the two above-described presses.

Photo B 100 ton press at Morrison Products“The Transporter units, in service here for 30 years, first of all, are very compact compared to other conveying solutions we’ve looked at,” Dobson explains, “a key consideration with the limited aisle space in the areas where those presses operate, as well as making it easier for our teams to access the press to change or service a die. The pneumatic units also are easy to set up, and easy to rebuild when the time comes.”

With a slow acceleration in the forward stroke, the Transporter moves scrap material forward. Then, during a rapid return stroke, material remains stationary, ensuring constant movement in one direction. Because of its compact design, the Transporter readily installs in tight areas, and unlike other devices, it need not be located close to the tool. Users can install a scrap-removal tray at the point of scrap ejection.

Rebuilds

Dobson until recently has been rebuilding the hard-working Transporter units himself, using spare parts provided by Vibro, every 2 to 3 years. And the shop fabricates the scrap trays for the conveyors inhouse. However, he says that the Morrison facility in Ohio has been sending its Transporters back to Vibro for rebuild leveraging its renewable 2-yr. warranty program, “a very inexpensive proposition,” he notes, “and it typically returns the units back to the plant within a few weeks. I think we’ll look to start doing the same with our Transporters.”

The Georgia plant owns four Transporters—two kept in production and two backup units. They’re all Vibro Model 320 units that run from air at 35 to 80 psi, handle a maximum load of 60 lb. and maximum scrap-tray weight of 25 lb., and feed at 15 to 40 ft./min. Vibro recommends them not only for stamping-press applications but also for other machine tools including CNC punch presses. In fact, Dobson is carefully considering adding a Transporter to the facility’s newest equipment addition—an LVD PX1225 machine added early in 2020, a 20-ton, 20-station model equipped for punching, forming, bending and tapping and with a maximum speed of 505 hits/min. at a 1-in. pitch. 

“Now that we have just over a year of operating the new punch press under our belt,” Dobson shares, “we’re evaluating better options for moving scrap out from underneath the machine. We think that the Vibro Transporter might be a good solution.”

Among some of the key features of the Transporter, as called out on the Vibro website: no mechanical springs, low air consumption (the Model 320 consumes 0.6 ft.3/min. at 35 psi), optional quick clamps for fast tray removal, and an optional motion sensor that automatically shuts down the equipment if the air supply become interrupted.

“And, there are no belts that can be torn by sharp edges from the scrap,” adds Dobson. “We currently are evaluating adding the motion-sensor option; I think we’ll probably go ahead and add that soon.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Bending, Case, CNC, Die, Forming, Gauge, Model, Point, Punch Press, Run, Scrap, Stroke, Tapping
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

 

See also: Vibro Industries, Inc.

Technologies: Pressroom Automation

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