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Mechanical Presses

It’s a wrap on scrap

By Lynn Stanley

Conveyor technology improves mechanical press uptime

July/August 2013 - Each of us produces a constant stream of scrap, from disposable contact lenses, fast food wrappers and water bottles to Kleenex, Clorox wipes and paper towels. The nonprofit organization Recycle Across America puts some perspective on the sheer volume of waste generated in the U.S., reporting that people throw away enough aluminum every three months to build the country’s entire commercial air fleet.

Fabricators also grapple with scrap and what to do with it. Effective scrap removal methods can mean the difference between optimizing production and losing precious real estate on the production floor. Machine downtime also is a concern. Yet many fabricators tend to be more interested in the part that comes off the end of the machine than the scrap the manufacturing process creates, says Paul Tamlin, product manager for Cleveland-based Mayfran International’s Shuffle Conveyor Systems Division.

Optimizing production

“When a manufacturer invests in capital equipment, they want the machine to run at its best,” Tamlin explains. “Waste is an important part of the process, yet it usually is looked at last instead of being considered up front. If a manufacturer can’t remove waste effectively it points to inefficiencies in their process and, on a larger scale, they aren’t gaining the most advantage from the money they invested in that process. A competitor, on the other hand, may be able to figure it out and get a competitive leg up. Scrap primarily is a nonvalue material. The less a fabricator has to touch the scrap, the more efficient their overall operation will be.”

FFJ-0708-mechanical-image1A toolmaker by trade, Tamlin invented a unique shuffle conveyor system in 1999. In 2008, Mayfran International acquired the patented shuffle conveyor product line and hired Tamlin as product manager of the division. Mayfran is a global provider of engineered solutions for scrap and coolant management and material handling in metalworking, recycling, solid waste processing and other applications.

“I researched and evaluated the systems that were available on the market and talked with customers that were experiencing either high maintenance or a lot of downtime,” Tamlin says. “I used that market intelligence to develop a system that could reduce customers’ operating costs and improve press production.”

Mayfran offers seven different shuffle drives engineered around a standard unit. The systems can handle tray weight from a few pounds to more than 15,000 lbs. The units also range from simple, flexible configurations to large, central conveying systems that move under a manufacturer’s facility, simultaneously collecting and carrying scrap from all machines to loading trucks or railcars.

For A. Stucki Company’s manufacturing facility American Industries, Sharon, Pa., the right conveyor system proved critical to both production and on-time shipping. Headquartered in Moon Township, Pa., A. Stucki designs, manufactures and supplies engineered products and services to the international rail transportation market through divisions that also include Independent Draft Gear, Farrell, Pa., and Alco Spring Industries Inc., Chicago Heights, Ill.

“It’s a specialized niche,” says plant engineer Gary Greene. “Not a lot of manufacturers in the rail industry do what we do. It takes a lot of capital to get into this business and we’ve been in it for more than 100 years.”

A hot topic

Greene’s group at American Industries designs and produces parts that are integrated into suspension assemblies for freight cars. When it comes to designing and developing these components, Greene’s approach is meticulous. By placing a video feed and special instrumentation on a test car, Greene and his group observe how a freight car reacts to movement on the track, as well as the dynamics of movement between the railcar and the track. “Our job is to develop parts that can help control those dynamics and extend the life of parts on the car,” says Greene. “It’s like your vehicle; without good suspension, the car eventually will fall apart.”

And while the components Greene fabricates are small pieces of a large assembly, they are critical to the performance of the suspension and its ability to keep the railcar on the track. “If any of those parts failed you’d have major problems,” he says.

Two 400-ton mechanical stamping presses produce body side bearing wear plates, as well as column guide wear plates and side-bearing cages. The parts are heat treated for hardness because they get pretty beat up, Greene explains.

American Industries sources 20 ft. medium carbon and high-carbon grade steel bars 3⁄8 in. to 5⁄8 in. thick. The bars are cut to length, superheated in an oven then transported to presses for hot forming. Each part weighs anywhere from 12 lbs. to 21 lbs. While hot forming is a critical component of part performance, Greene has found the ability to effectively remove hot scrap also is essential to the fabrication process.

FFJ-0708-mechanical-image2

“This is an automated procedure,” he says. “Parts come out of the oven, an operator punches holes in the plates and conveyors catch the hot slugs. We used pneumatic air shakers to remove slugs from the presses,” says Greene. “The problem was the heat radiating off the slugs kept melting the seals in the shaker’s air cylinder. As a result, the conveyors were always breaking down. We started looking for other options.”

Maintenance free

Greene says he considered trying to design an alternative but came across Mayfran’s shuffle conveyor systems on the Internet. “We installed our first Mayfran shuffle conveyor system in January 2012,” says Greene. “It worked so well we installed a second system in April 2012.”

The heavy-duty shuffle drive mounts on the press. By changing the unit’s drive link, Greene can move scrap in any direction, adding the shuffle conveyors were simple to install and have proved maintenance free. “Production is fairly high-volume,” he says. “We often get calls from customers asking for parts that need to be shipped the next day, which means we have to scramble. We can’t afford press downtime. If the conveyor is not working, the press cannot work. With the Mayfran shuffle conveyor systems, we have saved ourselves about 10 hours a week. That’s production time we’ve been able to recoup. It’s been a huge advantage to be able to save that kind of time.”

Greene’s group also has observed an upswing in on-time shipping rates. “We’ve got a good record of getting parts out,” he says. “We receive monthly reports from on-time shipping. The last one we received was zero complaints and 100 percent on-time shipments. We’ve been trending this way since the installation of the Mayfran shuffle conveyor systems.”

Mayfran’s goal is continuous improvement in stamping manufacturing, says Tamlin. “The focus is on creating as much uptime with the equipment a customer has on hand as possible,” he explains, “and helping to solve production problems.”

A different approach

When distributor and equipment integration specialist TCR Metalforming Solutions, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., was tasked to find a scrap removal solution for a major manufacturer’s 600-ton mechanical production system, the company immediately turned to Mayfran. 

TCR chose a couple of conventional Mayfran shuffle drive systems but needed a way to elevate scrap into hoppers away from the press. The material handling operator also needed a mechanism for switching from a full hopper to an empty one without the stamper having to touch the scrap or stop the press.

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TCR considered a conventional steel-hinged conveyor but analysis revealed a snag. “The most aggressive rise you can have with a steel-hinged conveyor is 45 degrees,” says Todd Wenzel, president of TCR. The horizontal length required to achieve the necessary vertical height took up precious floorspace the manufacturer needed to maneuver a truck in and out for loading and unloading dies from a neighboring press. TCR needed a solution that could elevate scrap with minimal floorspace.

“Paul solved the problem and gave us the floorspace we needed with a vertical spiral shuffle conveyor system,” says Wenzel. “We purchased it and it worked perfectly. The customer credits this material handling equipment with significantly improved uptime on the 600-ton press over their other presses.”

Tamlin developed the patent-pending vertical spiral shuffle conveyor system to solve a customer’s request for a conveying solution. “It’s about having products available for customers that have no other options available,” he says.  “As an organization, Mayfran is an industry leader. Products like this one help to emphasize that.”  

Tamlin continues to search out new markets for Mayfran shuffle conveyor systems. “One thing that helps us expand is that the reputation of the product is so good,” he says. “Our systems get a pretty warm response from customers.” FFJ

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Sources

  • A. Stucki Company 
    Moon Township, Pa.
    phone: 412/424-0560
    fax: 412/424-0014
    www.stucki.com
  • Mayfran International Inc.
    Cleveland
    phone: 440/461-4100 
    fax: 440/461-5565
    www.mayfran.com
  • TCR MetalForming Solutions
    Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
    phone: 715/424-3887

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