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Problem-Solving Press Feeds

By: Joe Jancsurak

Friday, August 23, 2019
 


At Wico Metal Products, the underloop of the coil stock on this space-saving press feed line provides the necessary material buffer so that the feeder/straightener combination has suitable cache to draw from during the rapid pitch required by progressive forming: 13.350 in. at 28 strokes/min. in this application.
Wico Metal Products, a Warren, MI-based Tier One and Two automotive producer of small welded assemblies, needed to regain factory floor space. Meanwhile, Erie, PA-based Burns Manufacturing, a manufacturer of residential door accessories, including door kickplates in a range of sizes, wanted faster die changeover times. Both companies accomplished their objectives with servo press feeds. Here are their stories.

Space-Saving Solution

“We’re producing, on 30 progressive-die mechanical presses at three of seven plant locations, tens of millions of deep drawn extruded fasteners that take the place of weld nuts or clinch fasteners,” says Ryan Pline, Wico’s vice president of manufacturing engineering. Pline says that a recent equipment-buying decision made at its North Warren, MI, plant, represents a significant change for the company moving forward.

All of Wico’s press feeds, except one, are at least 38 ft. long. The exception at 20 ft.: an UnderLoop space-saving line from Dallas Industries, designed to run steel to 0.250 in. thick and 36 in. wide, and rated for coils to 30,000 lb.

“A hands-free threading system,” explains John Heuring, regional sales manager at Dallas Industries, “it features a servo-driven synthetic tension roll for maintaining proper coil tension while uncoiling along with a lower pivoting table with a feeder/straightener-mounted rocker arm/debender for coil threading. Powered guide rolls eliminate the need for slide-on coil keepers and automatically center the coil on the mandrel while the servo feed with pull-through straightener combo features pilot release for both the upper feed and straightener rolls. To enhance setup time, the feeder passline height, edge guides and coil-guide rolls automatically adjust to position with the settings stored in the AutoSet job-recipe feature.”

“We kind of backed into this,” recalls Pline. “We needed a new press, but floor space was an issue. We barely had room enough for the press—a 600-ton Minster link-motion mechanical with a 146 by 72-in. bed. That’s when we noticed that our conventional feed line takes up a ton of room and started looking at what else is out there, leading us to the UnderLoop.”



Burns Manufacturing uses a new servo roll feed with 10-in. coil (left), and gag tooling (above) with punch and shear dies, to produce a range of door kickplates.
Pline continues: “Since we’re running common materials (low-temper aluminum and low-carbon steel) at conservative tolerances, we felt comfortable trying an unfamiliar configuration.” He explains that the configuration does away with looping pits—areas where the slack resulting from off-coil material can be taken up. “Now we have a joint union between the straightener and feed rolls, capable of straightening material at high speeds. When comparing this with a traditional press feed, everything looks the same—the coil cart, coil reel, etc.—but instead of having 20 ft. between the feeder and straightener, they are abutted. While the configuration was new for us, we approached this as a conservative wager.”

Wico won the wager. “Not only did we reduce the length of the line, we cut our square footage, going from 800 sq. ft. to 320 sq. ft. for this particular area,” Pline says. Considering that the plant accounts for 62,000 sq. ft., this may not sound like a lot, but…

“Now we don’t run big loops of coils between the straightener and feeder,” he says. “What’s more, this may be the first press feed of this type that we’ve installed, but not the last. This looks like the wave of the future for us in terms of system upgrades moving forward. In addition, we plan to push the boundaries with more exotic materials, such as dual-phase steels.

“Another plus: Our operators like having coils within closer proximity of the press,” continues Pline, “According to our plant manager, coil changes now take 5 vs. 10 min., and with several coil changes occurring throughout our two-shift operation, this provides a significant time savings.”

Time Saver

Business is good at Burns Manufacturing, maker of architectural door-trim hardware, including a range of door kickplates. So good, in fact, that the traditional way of producing its plates, which involved laying out the tools in a die set for 34-in. plates, punching the hole pattern and cutting the coil in one stroke, couldn’t keep pace with orders. The problem: When it was time to change to a different width, the changeover involved pulling the tooling and blanking the plate to length, followed by a secondary operation to punch screw holes. The solution: a servo roll feed configuration from PA Industries, Bloomfield, CT, that provides Burns with constant up time and freeing about 20 man hr./ week, for a labor savings of about 50 percent.

“We used gag tooling, putting in one set of punches and cutoffs for all the trim-plate sizes and moving the distances to create that pattern before performing the cutoff,” explains Don Frank, regional sales manager at PA. “Now it takes no time at all to switch from one size to another.”

Frank explains gag tooling: “This provides the ability to place multiple punches in a tool and to regulate, using a pneumatic wedge, which punch gets used depending on the part produced. Whereas with a conventional press feed every punch is active, with gag tooling, punches can be turned on and off, depending on where they are needed on the strip. Meanwhile, strip encoders monitor coil slippage and can be programmed to stop the equipment when slippage approaches a certain level, or they can be programmed to allow the customer to correct settings to accommodate the slippage, thus avoiding stoppage.”

The switch provides the manufacturer with much greater manufacturing flexibility, says Nick Burns, operations manager at the company. “What used to take 1 hr. takes just 10 min. We can have the coil loaded and tooling set up for different widths and then select the program and be up and running and all without any scrap, even when switching to different lengths.”

In addition to saving time, Burns says accuracy is beyond reproach. “The biggest surprise for us was accuracy and repeatability,” he says. “If we run 300 parts and stand them up on a cart after coming off the press, there isn’t any size difference between them. Between the faster changeover, accuracy, repeatability and elimination of scrap, the move to the servo press feed took us way beyond what we ever imagined possible.” MF

 

See also: Dallas Industries

Related Enterprise Zones: Coil Handling


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