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Coil Processing

A good blanking investment

By Tom Klemens

New cut-to-length line is quickly paying for itself while boosting in-house capabilities

July/August 2013 - How many times have you seen a simple product, thought to yourself, “I could make that,” and then gone ahead and paid the price anyway? Not too bad if it’s a few dollars for a unique piece of folk art, perhaps. But scale up the quantity to where you are regularly spending thousands of dollars for simple metal blanks and you begin to get a sense of the opportunity contract stamper Fanasa saw in purchasing its own cut-to-length line.

Established in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, in 1971, Fanasa specializes in stamping, punching and assembling metallic parts, especially those requiring precise dimensions and a high-quality external finish. The company’s San Nicolas plant, on the eastern side of Monterrey, serves primarily the automotive market using a variety of presses with beds as large as 120 in. and capacities of 1,500 tons.

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In 2004, Fanasa opened an additional facility in Santa Catarina, on the other side of town, to supply the industrial and appliance markets. In addition to serving the west side of Monterrey, it sells to companies throughout Mexico, South America and the U.S. The Santa Catarina plant also has a variety of presses, the largest with a capacity of 600 tons.

Although much of the production in the Santa Catarina plant is done on coil-fed stamping lines, other lines start with metal blanks. For years the company purchased blanks for that portion of its business, but when demand for blank-fed products increased, management began to think seriously about bringing blank production in-house. Early in 2012, the company began producing its own blanks on a cut-to-length line provided by Coe Press Equipment, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Fortunately, Fanasa’s newer facility had the space to accommodate the new coil processing line to produce the blanks. “We started discussions in mid-2011 and the order was released in September, so it was quick,” says Roberto Bortoni, director of the Monterrey office of Promotores Tecnicos, which represents Coe Press Equipment in Mexico.

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Driven by demand

Installing the new cut-to-length line was simply a timely business decision, according to Domingo Perez, Fanasa’s manager of new projects. “We needed to have a lot of inventory of blanks with equal widths, which represented a cost,” he says. Rather than keep a large supply of various blank sizes on hand, the company opted to stock the raw material in coils and make its own blanks in smaller quantities, as needed.

Because it uses coils on some of its stamping lines, Fanasa already had the requisite material handling infrastructure in place to work with coils on the blanking line. In addition to cost savings on the blanks, bringing the operation in-house cut lead time and reduced storage requirements. “Having rolls instead of sheets in our inventory offers greater flexibility to our supply chain and therefore the client,” Perez says. Although not a small investment, Fanasa expects the new line to have a payback period of less than two years.

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Nuts and bolts

Lines like this typically consist of component systems matched to suit the particular operation. For Fanasa, Coe provided a line to handle 14 gauge to 28 gauge prepainted steel and stainless steel in widths up to 48 in. The process begins with a standard coil reel, which accepts coils up to 10,000 lbs. and feeds a standard straightener. Equipped with variable speed drives, the straightener removes the coil-set as the steel comes off the reel. For optimum performance and minimum surface marking, it should run at a steady pace. The top production rate for this straightener is 100 ft. per minute.

As the steel leaves the straightener it drops down into a loop area. The loop introduces slack into the advancing steel to ensure the feeder on the second part of the line is pulling only the material weight.

The feeder is driven by servos, whose accuracy determines the uniformity of the blank width. For this line, it shares a base with the shear. The feeder advances the steel a precise distance, stopping briefly as a hydraulic shear cuts the blank. At top speed, the feeder and shear achieve 30 cuts per minute. Repeatedly accelerating and decelerating, the feeder moves more quickly than the straightener, which continues to feed the loop.

FFJ-0708-coil-image3“The straightener has more time to do its work than the feeder does,” says Coe’s regional sales manager John Heuring. “The feeder is more of a quick, jerky motion. The straightener is more methodical and balanced. And ideally, if you’re running materials that are potentially painted or have a high finish, the more consistent you run the straightener, the less opportunity there is for marking.”

Fanasa’s cut blanks are collected by a single-station drop stacker. Stackers are one of the more modifiable line components and offer optional features. “Even though stackers are a standard design, they’re kind of one-off every time,” says Heuring.

This installation features a chain conveyor atop a scissor-lift table. “The table raises up so when the stack is empty it’s very close to the top of the rack structure,” Heuring says. When full, the pallet slides out on chains and is off-loaded from either side.

The stacker design was one of the line’s key selling points, says Perez. Beyond that, the line’s speed and its width and thickness capacities were important features in the Fanasa purchasing decision, as was price.

The simple and productive system seems to have been a good fit for Fanasa. “After they load a coil, get it threaded and get the first piece set, they put it into automatic and it just runs—cut, cut, cut—until the stack is full or the batch count has been met,” Heuring says. “Then they can switch out the full pallet, put a new pallet in, hit the button again and it’s running.”

The new line has quickly become a new value stream for Fanasa. Having brought blank-making in-house, it no longer pays the incremental costs associated with purchasing blanks, such as material handling, packaging and shipping. And as the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. FFJ

Interested in purchasing reprints of this article? Click here

Sources

  • Coe Press Equipment
    Sterling Heights, Mich.
    phone: 586/979-4400
    www.cpec.com
  • Fanasa, Santa Catarina
    Nuevo León, Mexico
    phone: +81 8344-4410
    www.fanasa.com.mx


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