A Modest Blanking Line Stands Tall Among Giant Transfer Presses

By: Brad Kuvin

Saturday, January 1, 2011
While colossal transfer presses dominate the landscape inside the 136,000-sq.-ft. plant of automotive Tier One supplier Newman Technology Inc., it’s a modest 400-ton blanking press
Modest Blanking line
Newman Technology manufactures door frames from these stamped and rollformed parts.
that keeps the pressroom at the Mansfield, OH, facility hitting on all cylinders. When the plant souped-up the blanking press with a new two-out blank-stacking system a few years ago, it drove throughput to high speeds. In addition, the new blanking system’s simplistic design slashed changeover time by better than 60 percent. As a result, the plant’s pressroom now stores zero inhouse-produced blanks as work in process.

Newman stamps and assembles exhaust systems and door frames, as well as door inners and window moldings. It asks its blanking presses (the 400-ton model and a smaller 200-ton blanker) to supply blanks used to stamp, among other parts, right- and left-hand inner and outer door-frame side panels. A rollformed and stretch-formed part welds to the panels to complete each frame. The firm outsources large two-out blanks used to stamp one-piece door frames for certain vehicle models, produced on a twin-press tandem line comprising two 2000-ton transfer presses with robotic blank feed and an inter-press transfer robot. (All of Newman’s presses are Aida models).

Changeover Time Slashed from 40 min. to 15 min.

“Before upgrading the stacking system on the blanking press, we would hold a full run of blanks in inventory, because it took so long to change over the press from job to job,” shares Jeff Thomas, group leader/stamping and tool and die at Newman Technology. Thanks to a new two-out continuous-run stacking system (engineered by ne Trail Technologies, Fort Loramie, OH), the pressroom has no need to store blanks, says Thomas. “Instead, we now can inventory finished stampings to help meet just-in-time unscheduled orders from our customers (the plant blanks full coils rather

Monster twin press
Newman outsources large blanks for stamping one-piece door frames on its monster twin press (two 2000-ton transfer presses robotically integrated as a tandem line). Note the squared-off center section cut from each door frame—Newman repurposes that offal for other, smaller stampings.
than inventory partial coils, and then stamps the complete run of blanks).

Newman upgraded the blanking-press stacking system when it was challenged with producing a set of six blanks that comprised a large two-out tailor laser-welded door-frame blank (TWB).

“We ran all six blanks (from 0.6 to 1.2 mm thick) each day and laser-welded them here,” Thomas says, “which meant six changeovers per model on the blank-stacking system (at least) per day. So, it’s easy to see why reducing changeover time became such a critical goal.”

Thomas credits what he refers to as a “simple and efficient stacking-system design” with allowing the pressroom staff to complete a blanking-line changeover in 15 min., compared to the previous 40 min. required for changeovers. (Adding a second bolster to the press contributed greatly as well). The system simultaneously stacks blanks from the front and exit end of the press. To allow the blanking line to run progressive dies, which it does at least once per week, ne Trail designed and installed a new belt conveyor on the end of the press that pivots up and out of the .

TWBs Extinct,but Benefits Remain

While the tailored blank design for door frames has been eliminated by Newman and replaced with the stamped and rollformed design, the blanking-press stacking system continues to pay dividends. The line toils at 110-percent capacity to churn out door-frame blanks. Its adjustable side guides (±30 deg.) and backstop safely and neatly handle the array of oddly-shaped blanks Newman stamps. Adjustments are made manually during changeovers; Thomas notes that ne Trail designed the system to accept an upgrade to servo-motor adjustment, but can’t as of yet justify the upgrade.

Other significant stacking-system features: it was designed specifically to

400-ton blanking press
The 400-ton blanking press works overtime to provide blanks primarily for door-frame stampings to Newman’s pair of 1200-ton transfer presses. A simplified stacking-system design helps pressroom staff complete blanking-line changeovers in 15 min. The system simultaneously stacks blanks from the front and exit end of the press. Driven roller conveyors move full pallets outside of each stacker at the same time that a conveyor on the opposite side moves new pallets into the stacking location, maximizing press run tim
avoid dinging blank edges, to ensure precise alignment for TWB laser welding; and, a pallet-conveying system allows loading of permanent pallets on both of the conveyors outside of the stacker position. At each of the two stacking stations, a roller conveyor drives one of the pallets onto a driven roller conveyor mounted on a hydraulic lift. The lift raises the pallet up to the stacking position, and then lowers the pallet as the stack builds, thanks to a sensor that detects stack height. A driven roller conveyor then moves each full pallet outside of the stacker at the same time that a conveyor on the opposite side of the stacker moves a new pallet into the stacking location. Adjustable risers allow access for fork-truck removal of each blank stack from the pallets. The system handles blanks from 210 to 1500 mm wide, 300 to 1000 mm long, of steel 0.5 to 2.3 mm thick. Maximum stack height is 18 in.; maximum line speed is 70 strokes/min.

Nearly all of the blanks emerging from the press feed the firm’s pair of 1200-metric-ton transfer presses. The ability to blank continuously just adds to the throughput gain realized via quicker changeovers. With its older blank-stacking setup, the press would stop to allow a tow-motor driver to remove each blank stack and load empty pallets at the two stacking stations.

“That process used to eat up another 10 to 15 min. of press time per hour,” says Thomas. “Now we can run the blanking line continuously, at that maximum stroke rate on some of our one-out blanks (as long as feed length is in the 300- to 400-mm range),” says Thomas. “Longer feeds require us to slow the press down a bit.”

Other Enhancements:Indexing Conveyor, Tandem-Line Robotics

In addition to engineering Newman Technology’s new blank-stacking system, ne Trail also came to the rescue with a solution to improve productivity

new robotic transfer system
One of Newman’s two four-press tandem lines, which stamp exhaust-system components, illustrates a new robotic transfer system that employs a common feed bar running the length of the line. In addition to dramatically reducing each line’s footprint, line speed has increased by as much as 8 strokes/mi
at the firm’s monster twin-press tandem. That line stamps one-piece door frames from two-out blanks. At one time, as many as four operators worked at the press-line exit conveyor to remove, stack and palletize the stampings. To reduce end-of-line labor content, ne Trail designed and installed an indexing servo-driven end-of-line conveyor, programmable to any desired feed length and speed.

“We can pause the conveyor while the press continues to run,” says Thomas, “so that as many as four stampings stack and nest on the conveyor at a time. Stacking on the conveyor allows us to manage the end of the line with only two operators rather than four.”

Lastly, Thomas showed us a pair of Aida four-press tandem lines in the plant, which stamp exhaust-system components, recently upgraded with new robotic transfer systems. The lines initially were set up with a robot between each press; presses would run intermittently, stopping to await transfer movement. The new robotic transfer setup on each tandem line employs a common feed bar that runs the length of the line. In addition to dramatically reducing each line’s footprint (since Newman was able to locate the presses closer together), the presses now run continuously—during each transfer cycle, the feed bar tends to all four presses.

Thomas explains that the productivity gain—line speed has increased by as much as 8 strokes/min.—was critical to meet new exhaust-stamping production requirements. The new model exhaust systems take all laser-welded components, Thomas explains, which required Newman to completely redesign its stamping procedure.

“Laser welding the exhaust-system stampings (rather than arc welding) requires much tighter tolerances on part dimensions,” he says, noting that tolerances are now +0 and –0.2 mm, compared to ±0.5 mm before. “Meeting the tighter tolerances required not only an entirely different approach to die design and build, but also forced us a from two-out stamping to a more controllable and repeatable one-out process.”

Hence the desire to increase line speed via the new robotic transfer system. MF


See also: Lincoln Electric Automation – Wayne Trail

Related Enterprise Zones: Automation, Presses

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