Page 20 - MetalForming September 2016
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 Hydraulics Support Big Move to Bigger Parts
presses, and provides the control we just couldn’t get with all-mechanical. And, this line, given the versatility of hydraulic drives, enables us to run other products if needed.”
Automation, Kaizen Events Spur Speed Uptick
From the start, the line worked over- time to produce extra roof-system com- ponents until two additional die sets
(all designed by Hatch Stamping) could be built for local supply in Europe and Asia. In addition, the metalformer per- formed all robotic install and integra- tion for its press line.
“These presses have a quick-fill fea- ture to enable rapid lift and descent, then we can control speed and dwell time in the work portion of the stroke,” Claugherty says, addressing speed issues sometimes cited in the hydraulic
vs. mechanical debate. “This allows us to run at speeds that approach those of a transfer line. And, with job recall through the human-machine interface, all line components can be quickly set up for each run.”
For a company with a history of speedy production and rapid-fire mechanical-press hits, the addition of a hydraulic line for this part mix rep- resents a cultural change.
“We are a stamper and we run things quickly,” says Claucherty, “so it was a bit of a challenge to run slightly slower and move methodically. But we’ve gained efficiencies on the line via automation, such as the robotic press- tending.”
The four die sets store in racks directly across an aisle from the presses, and because the dies are relatively light, personnel simply transport them to and from the presses via towmotors– no rolling bolsters needed. Die changes occur roughly once per shift, according to Claucherty.
Through kaizen events similar to those in other parts of the plant that have significantly boosted overall equipment effectiveness, according to plant manager Keith Gailey, the die- change process has been improved, to about 45 min. hit-to-hit. Though only one aisle separates the dies from the press line, it is a major thoroughfare. To eliminate delays related to aisle traf- fic, the press-line team simply runs a chain across the aisle to prevent access during die changes.
Swapping robotic fingers represents the most challenging aspect of each die change.
“We change out 10 robots with mul- tiple fingers,” Claucherty says. “We have three people running the line, so one changes the fingers, one moves the dies and the third stages material and performs other duties. We are run- ning four sets of parts through that press line across essentially only one shift, which is amazing when consid- ering that hydraulic presses run slower than mechanical presses. But with the automation and kaizen improvements, we keep that line humming.” MF
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