Mechanical Presses

All the right moves

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Seyi’s 145-in. bed size and minimal deflection helped MTM break open new markets to support an escalating growth pattern.

Job shop supports growth pattern with sophisticated press system

April 2015 - The difference between a merely good poker player and a winner can be boiled down to statistics. Collecting and measuring raw data—a sufficient number of hands played over a specified time frame—defines a winning player as the person who consistently takes more money off the table than he puts on it. The same can be said of Manitowoc Tool and Manufacturing LLC. The 50-year-old job shop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, plays its cards close to the vest when it comes to its customers and the parts it produces. But its steady growth is evidence of a winning strategy.

A start-up tool and die shop in 1965, MTM (known then as Manitowoc Tool and Machining) soon gained traction in a region dense with rivers, harbors, farming and shipbuilding. Over time, the company expanded its market segments to include off-highway, energy, military, industrial, transportation, automotive, lawn and garden, recreational vehicles, commercial lighting and laminations. “The diversity of our customer base has been a proving ground where MTM has developed intensive knowledge and experience in the machining industry,” says Vice President Chuck Reinhart.


Addition after addition

To match its growing customer base, MTM added to its capabilities in 2006 when it moved its metal stamping business into its own facility and created Manitowoc Tool and Manufacturing. The company has since built four additions to its stamping facility. With these additions, MTM now houses machining equipment, design and engineering services and one-piece prototype machining through full production runs under 357,500 sq. ft. of temperature controlled space.

A team of tool and die makers build and maintain MTM’s tooling and perform those services for other stampers and original equipment manufacturers. The company is a turnkey operation for stamping, stamping dies and fabrication with plans under way for yet another addition. 

Sales Vice President Mike Jankowski credits the company’s aggressive progress in part to the reputation MTM has cultivated. “We’re known for getting the job done right, on time and at a competitive cost,” he says. 

An escalating workload is also what put the ISO 9001 and Lean Six Sigma-certified shop in the market for a new mechanical stamping press that could accommodate automation. “The capability to handle pre-painted material was a huge requirement for us,” says Reinhart. 

BDC Machinery, also based in Wisconsin, installed a Seyi mechanical straightside 440-ton press with an automated, fully synchronized Dallas Industries feedline at MTM in October 2014. “We run three shifts round the clock so we have a lot of tool changeovers. The press control in combination with the feedline reduced our changeover time with coil loading and our setup time by allowing us to get tools in and out faster,” Reinhart says.

The straightside’s 145-in. bed size was another critical requirement. “The bed size, the largest of any of our current presses, opened up new markets for us,” he continues. 

Having a new press production system means MTM can run multiple operations from piercing and drawing to forming, in-die clinch nuts and in-die tapping. “The press system expands the capability and capacity of our stamping division,” says Reinhart. “We design and build highly precise progressive dies engineered to produce tight tolerance parts. We needed a press with minimal deflection for equally precise stamping and one that could run our dies smoothly.” 

While some jobs require just a one-hit “down and dirty tool,” MTM stamps parts using complex progressive dies with multiple stations. “Our tooling capacity allows us to construct Class A to B tooling depending on a customer’s part tolerances and volume requirements,” Reinhart says. The company can build tooling for parts as thick as 0.50 in. or parts processed from 0.015 in. thick tin foil.


Changing landscape

Die protection is among MTM’s priorities. “BDC Machinery worked with our die personnel to install additional sensing for our dies,” Reinhart says. “This prevented potential tooling issues by safeguarding our dies.”

MTM can run the straightside up to 50 strokes per minute with line speeds up to 130 ft. per minute. “The payout speed of the straightener is not dictated by a loop sensor that monitors the loop depth varying the payout speed like traditional systems,” says Rick Wenzel, president of BDC Machinery. “The servo feed control communicates anticipated line speed to the straightener drive based on programmed feed length and press spm. For example, if you program a 12-in. feed length by 50 spm, the feed then communicates 50 ft. per minute to the straightener drive. This feature delivers a lot of benefits including the ability to run heavy-gauge materials at aggressive line speeds using minimal floor space.

The system also gives MTM the flexibility to handle a range of materials, some with cosmetic requirements. The straightside stamps parts as small as 2 by 2 in. up to 42 in. wide and 5 ft. long from pre-painted, aluminum, hot-rolled and cold-rolled carbon steel, stainless steel and galvanized material 0.025 in. thick up to 1⁄4 in. thick.

An adaptable press and feedline system coupled with accurate, high-speed processing is a good fit for MTM, which often finds itself doing a fast shuffle to keep pace with changing customer demands. “The way we did business six months ago is not the way we do business now,” observes Jankowski. “Customers want better pricing, shorter deliveries and unique solutions that can help them further reduce costs. We keep our competitive edge while meeting customer requirements by finding ways to give more value for the money. That includes investing in the newest equipment like the Seyi press and feedline.”

Investing in people, processes

Training is another tool MTM uses to stay sharp. BDC Machinery spent more than two weeks training six operators on how to run the new system. “The BDC team performed training on the production floor, working hands on with our operators on the Link Controls for the press and feedline,” says Reinhart. 

“We didn’t want our operators just to know how to run the system,” Jankowski adds. “We wanted them to understand the technology and how to use it.” 

The company has also positioned itself to respond to unexpected market changes like the labor dispute that shut down West Coast ports and kept nearly $1 trillion worth of cargo on ships anchored offshore for weeks. Although that has been resolved, “the port situation is a good example of how fast access can be shut off for things that people need,” Jankowski notes. 

With its ongoing investment in equipment and infrastructure, MTM’s strategy is to make it easy for customers to get the parts they need right here in the U.S.

 “Our in-house tooling and stamping operations and our ability to run these processes around the clock is what separates us from our competition,” says Jankowski. “It’s the name of the game in today’s business—doing what it takes to get the job done.” FFJ



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