Sophisticated simplicity

By Lynn Stanley

Above: The air/oil press gives Banner Engineering consistent, accurate holes for its WLB32 LED light used here in this ultrasonic weld machine.

Manufacturer takes new products to market with turnkey air/oil press

September 2014 - If you’ve been lured by the idea of using your smart TV to access apps, browse the web and watch streaming Internet video from the comfort of your couch, you can appreciate the advantages of practical science. That is until you unbox your flat screen and ask it to locate your wireless network before it times out. Technology continues to change the way we play and work, but it isn’t always easy to use.

Customer-driven Multicyl took a different approach with its patented air over oil presses by housing its innovative design in an easy-to-operate exterior with a small footprint. “Punching should be simple and cost effective,” says Todd Bryson, general FFJ-0914-punching-image1manager for Multicyl.

These features attracted the attention of Banner Engineering Corp., which was looking for a clean, dry removal process for two new lighting products the company was bringing to market. 

Headquartered in Minneapolis, the global engineering company produces photoelectric, vision and wireless sensors, as well as indicator lights, machine safety and area lighting products to support industrial and factory automation for a wide range of industries.

“The lights’ housing required us to punch two holes and notch the aluminum extrusion,” says Bob Lowery, a senior development manufacturing engineer for Banner Engineering. “We wanted to be able to complete the process in line with product assembly. The Multicyl press enabled us to complete the punches on the production floor.”

Bolton, Ontario-based Multicyl has been designing and building its air over oil presses since 1980. Engineered for hole punching, notching, shearing, tube piercing, assembly and metal joining, the air/oil cylinders, from 2.5 to 100 tons, use regular shop air but can cycle up to 60 strokes per minute.

Air supply

Banner Engineering designed its new WLB32—an ultra-bright, energy efficient LED linear light bar—with a metal housing, shatterproof window and cascadable configuration for continuous lengths and minimum wiring. The light bar also features a high, low and off switch for varying light levels. Fabrication required a square hole for the high, low, off switch, a rivet hole for assembly and grounding and an edge notch to permit soldering to the LED board. “We needed to remove material from three different surfaces,” Lowery notes.  

Banner Engineering’s second product, the WLS28-2, was built with pulse width modulation dimming that required additional wiring to the circuit board. Lowery notes the LED light required an edge notch that would allow technicians to connect wires to an LED board.

To handle the hole punching and notching work, the company installed five, 7.5-ton Multicyl presses in January 2014. The company performs edge notching on parts 28 mm wide and lengths of 6 in. to 4 ft. in 6-in. increments. Edge notching, hole punching and switch punching are done on a 32 mm square part in lengths 1 ft. to 4 ft. in 1 ft. increments.

“Multicyl’s air/oil cylinder met the tonnage requirement to punch through our aluminum stock using the air pressure available in our production facility,” Lowery says. “The machine’s small footprint also fit easily within our production line, requiring little floorspace.”

The punch is already proving a sturdy workhorse for Banner Engineering. “Our cylinders are specifically designed for hole punching and notching sheet metal and aluminum extrusion,” says Bryson. “When you compare the machine to a larger FFJ-0914-punching-image2press, it handles the same work load at a less expensive pricepoint. Our machines are also quieter to operate.” 

Each Multicyl station is a stand-alone work center running a mix of high and low volume parts. Banner Engineering is able to punch very thin 6063-T5 aluminum 1.1 mm thick. “There are always production challenges associated with custom parts.” observes Lowery. “In this case, we researched punch tips and mandrel designs to ensure strength, longevity and efficient slug removal.”

High performance

The air/oil cylinders require minimal maintenance. Training was nominal as well. “Our operators required very little training to operate the equipment once it was installed,” says Lowery. Banner Engineering also found the machines modified easily. “We added sensors, cameras and PLC controls to prevent operators from incorrectly loading the extrusion after the first punch was made,” Lowery notes. “The air/oil cylinders were compliant with our sensors and controls.”

Once the LED lights were in production, Banner Engineering began responding to customers’ individual requirements. “We anticipated custom requests such as delivering the WLB32 lights without the standard high, low, off switch. That’s why we set the presses up as individual work stations. When we receive a custom order, our operators can simply remove a punch operation from assembly to meet a customer’s individual needs. Just a few months into production, we received our first request to remove the switch. We easily met the specification without significant impact to our manufacturing line because of the Multicyls’ flexibility to move from one operation to another.”

Like Banner Engineering, Multicyl specializes in custom products. “We evaluate and analyze a customer’s part specifications or drawings so that we can tailor a frame to support the work,” Bryson says. “Our cylinders aren’t just vertical units. We can manufacture our frames in a horizontal configuration for gang punching or at an angle. We can also accommodate custom tools.”

The Multicyl machines on Banner Engineering’s production floor have been running two production shifts for six months. The presses are dedicated to the WLB32 and WLS28-2 LED light bars, which Lowery says are ideal for machine, inspection and task lighting. The product families can support a range of industrial and manufacturing markets from food and beverage, packaging and pharmaceutical to material handling, automotive and semiconductor.  

“We haven’t experienced any issues operating the Multicyl machines,” Lowery says. “We stop each press after 1,000 cycles for cleaning and punch size verification. The holes have been consistent and accurate—and we haven’t had any product defects resulting from the presses. They’ve proved a simple, clean solution with the power and performance when and where we needed it—on the assembly line.” FFJ



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