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All-electric tube bender multiplies productivity

April 28, 2016 - A new all-electric tube and profile bending machine is helping Crisp Clean Services - a manufacturer of mobile cleaning stations - to substantially boost productivity and make its manufacturing process much leaner.

The 30 mm bender was specially designed by Unison to improve Crisp Clean's production efficiency and flexibility. It achieves this by incorporating a number of advanced features including a built-in hole piercing system that eliminates a separate processing stage, multistack tooling for quick changeovers between tube sizes, and rollform bending - a new capability that Crisp Clean will be exploiting in future designs.

Crisp Clean makes a wide variety of mobile trolley systems for commercial janitorial applications, with ergonomically positioned buckets and moldings to carry a flat mop wringer, as well as other compartments for cleaning materials, waste, etc. All of the trolleys are built around sturdy stainless steel frames.

One of the first applications for the new Unison bender illustrates the productivity gains being achieved by Crisp Clean. The machine is used to crush-form a frame which provides the structure for a custom trolley system. This bending process uses special tooling - provided as part of the package by Unison - to deliberately collapse part of the tubing as it bends. This technique provides great structural strength that serves to make Crisp Clean's trolleys extremely robust. The key piece of this particular frame is a rectangular shape, made from a single square profile tube with four 90-degree bends, plus 12 holes on all four sides for subsequent assembly. Crisp Clean used to make this part using two separate machines - bender and piercer - in seven separate bending and piercing stages. The new bender now makes the same part in a single automatic cycle, almost tripling the speed of production.

Further major gains come from the software-based set-up of the new Unison machine, thanks to its all-electric architecture with servomotor-controlled bending and movement. Crisp Clean's old machines are all hydraulically-powered, and can only be set up for each production batch by skilled staff. The new machine can be configured for the next batch simply by loading a program, greatly reducing the time required - as well as the operator skill levels.

This flexibility is helping Crisp Clean to re-shape its production process. One of the first gains has been a substantial reduction in batch sizes. This has major benefits for Crisp Clean: it reduces the need for storage and this in turn is helping the company to adopt a much leaner build-to-demand process.

The roll forming capability of the Unison bender is also particularly attractive for Crisp Clean. The company's design engineers can now combine traditional tube bending with roll forming - all in a single automatic cycle. This provides enormous flexibility to design and efficiently fabricate complex frame shapes for standard cleaning trolley products - or customer-specific trolley designs which represent a significant element of the company's business.

"With this acquisition, we were looking for a machine that could replace an old hydraulic bender, but also help us to evolve our manufacturing process to be much leaner and more flexible," says Dave Hudsmith, Engineering Manager for Crisp Clean Services. "Unison's in-depth engineering support came up with a versatile multi-function solution that multiplies productivity, but additionally gives us new forming capability that we are now exploiting to create more aesthetic and ergonomic shapes."

"Virtually every machine that Unison makes is customized in some way, from a custom feature to a comprehensive automated cell", adds Unison's Steve Haddrell. "We try hard to analyze our customers' processes and to design flexible solutions, and this project is an excellent example of what can be achieved. We're proud to be helping this leading UK OEM to make a capital investment that is having a positive impact across its business - from design to manufacturing."

Sources

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