Flexing muscles

By Colin Linneweber

Above: The 4.0 automated line allows manufacturers to employ different processes like coining, air bending and wipe bending.

Automated bending line has athletic ability to manage large range of panel sizes with precision

September 2017 - The world’s premier athletes—including marathon runners, wrestlers and weight lifters—assembled to showcase their skills at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Gasparini Industries, located in Treviso, Italy, roughly 335 miles north of the Eternal City, was established a decade following the event’s closing ceremony in 1970. The company has since become a strong competitor in manufacturing and distributing commercial and industrial equipment for the sheet metal working sector.

In particular, the privately held company punches above its weight when building sheet metal bending, folding and cutting systems for a global clientele. Gasparini also offers machine installation, planned maintenance and other services.

CEO Andrea Guderzo says his company this year introduced its Industry 4.0-compliant automated bending lines. Equipped with a potent handling system and designed to reduce stoppages during sheet metal production. For example, communication, reliability, material variability and data scarcity problems may be simplified and solved using Industry 4.0 technologies.

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The operational capabilities are ideal for fabricators of corrugated sheet and radiant panels that want to automate their output, Guderzo says. This automated bending solution will also suit any customer that struggles with multiple configurations and bending shapes.

“It automatically bends sheet metal panels in custom shapes and dimensions,” says Guderzo, adding that the machines are a flexible alternative to roll forming lines. “It continuously changes the panel size, the number of bends, and their distance. It can be reprogrammed and reconfigured remotely.”

For this new model, Gasparini developed a custom CNC that can be interfaced to the company ERP and technical office. “This way, manufacturers can upload programs and machine parameters of any dimension. All the while, it can be left to work unattended 24/7, 365,” he explains.

Custom configurations

The Industry 4.0-compliant automated press brake is available in any size and tonnage and it can be customized to fit a finished product. Accordingly, Gasparini’s automated bending lines can be equipped with all types of manipulators: conveyor rollers, belts and chains, manipulators, robots, clamps, rotators, and picking and positioning systems. Because of its reconfigurable punch and die feature, the 4.0 bending line allows manufacturers to employ different processes like coining, air bending and wipe bending.

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Communication, reliability, material variability and data scarcity problems may be simplified by using Industry 4.0 technologies.

“The ability to manage panels of different widths and lengths, as well as the number of slots, is vital,” says Guderzo.

“The customized mold has a special automatic reconfiguration that lets it perform multiple types of bends. Any type of molds can be fitted to this bending machine, as well as automatic tool changing [systems].”

Specifying the machine’s primary purpose Guderzo describes how—from raw materials to a completed product—the new model helps eliminate downtime. The increased efficiency can boost an entire supply chain.

“The desired result is a part made within the target time, respecting tight tolerances and coping with multiple panel sizes and shapes,” says Guderzo. “These results are achieved by means of accurate positioning, flexible machine configuration and programming, fast motors, servo drives and reconfigurable punches and dies.”

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Machine stoppages often occur because companies are trying to carry out many production phases in masked time. But the Gasparini machine bends products that, until now, were made with roll forming lines. “If you wanted to change a product’s shape, you needed to change the entire set of rollers,” Guderzo says. “These tools are very expensive and changing the entire set of rollers is very time-consuming.”

Cost estimating

Industry 4.0 methodologies, which aim at eradicating bottlenecks and complicated processing steps, also helps consumers accurately calculate costs. Manufacturers can quickly, and precisely, estimate production prices and times while slashing waste. If faced with reduced workloads, resources may be reallocated to where they are necessary. Meanwhile, all usage statistics (uptime and downtime) are recorded, cycle times are tracked, and error analysis is conducted for a manufacturer’s future reference.

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Gasparini's automated bending lines can be equipped with all types of manipulators.

“The machine, being completely sensorized, performs continuous analysis on the material characteristics,” says Guderzo. “In this way, we can keep raw material under control and see if its strength, thickness or other factors are varying too much. It also keeps manufacturing efficiency at top levels because we can track tolerances, cycle times, errors, idle times, machine usage levels and more.” Thanks to the continuous and extensive information flow, Gasparini can work with operators to “check for anomalies and perform predictive maintenance. In this way, we can address any potential issues before they lead to faults and unwanted downtime.”

With the long-distance, high-hurdle performance the 4.0 automated bending line offers, it could become manufacturing “gold” for certain sheet metal production shops. FFJ


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