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Press Brake Tooling

Focal point

By Lynn Stanley

Above: MC Machinery’s action control reduces setup time, the potential for errors and the steps an operator has to take to check bending sequences or confirm dimensions.

Equipment supplier’s novel approach equips press brakes to digitally train operators in less time

October 2019 - When unraveling a gnarly problem, it is sometimes easy to “miss the forest for the trees.” The phrase refers to individuals who get so involved in the details of a problem that they can’t see the big picture. David Bray, product manager for MC Machinery Systems Inc.’s press brakes division, says perspective has influenced the company’s approach to helping manufacturers.

Based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, the machinery builder combines its ability to act as a sole source for metalworking with an extensive technical support network.

“I got my start in press brakes 25 years ago,” says Bray. “Operators had to have an understanding of principles like bend allowances, V-die selection and how materials react to bending. That kind of know-how came with experience.” Today, high schools no longer offer sheet metal and woodworking classes. “We’ve effectively removed an avenue for young people to nurture the creative bug by working with their hands.”

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History lessons

MC Machinery polled press brake users and found the No. 1 problem people talked about was the inability to find qualified employees with the skills to run their equipment. “We’ve made machines smarter, more intuitive and easier to use but we haven’t improved training and information access for operators,” Bray adds. “This approach has helped but isn’t completely solving the problem. I feel that the focus on technology advances has contributed to creating a micro climate where manufacturers are having trouble attracting young people to these jobs.”

Armed with the value of hindsight and the tools of experience, MC Machinery took a novel approach, choosing to focus on educational technology by developing the Videre system.

“It allows the machine to digitally train the operator,” Bray explains. “It familiarizes them with parts by showing them things like how to handle parts on the press brake, which direction they rotate and which tools to select once the drawing is supplied. Additional manpower is eliminated because a senior press brake operator no longer has to shadow a new employee.”

MC Machinery designed the Videre system for digital integration in keeping with IoT practices, operator support for skilled and unskilled employees, and the ability to cross generational boundaries to accommodate different learning requirements.

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3D simulation makes checking the bending sequence and tool interference convenient both on screen and with the Videre.

Simply put, Videre is a high-definition projector that displays information at the front of the press brake with a laser grid that is projected across the upper beam, turning the machine’s surface into a large-format touchscreen interface. It can be manipulated for effective, real-time data important to the operator’s current project. The software ties components into a format that is familiar to smartphone and tablet users.

“In the past, it would have taken six months or more to train a new operator,” Bray says. “This system can train an employee in weeks. The key is not to focus on one generation but to consider all generations because tribal knowledge needs to be easily communicated and understood—whether it’s 3D simulations, tool size and location, or how to handle the odd part.”

Functionality

MC Machinery can add the Videre option to its BB or BH press brake models with 6-ft. beds and larger. “It gives the press brake functionality that can grow with the customer yet allow a company to keep the footprint of a standalone machine and keep ROI under 12 months,” Bray notes.

In addition to virtual training, the system can reduce setup time and errors while improving productivity. One MC Machinery customer reported that on a conventional press brake, he would have to run 20 or more parts to achieve a good setup for a part with nine bends. With Videre, he was able to take a part with complicated forms and run it right the first time without needing a test piece or sample bends. The customer told MC Machinery, “I have that part hanging on my wall as proof because I couldn’t believe it.”

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Videre’s operator support system makes it easy for a novice employee to process a part.

Efficiencies

In addition to a lack of qualified workers, customers polled also asked for more automation. Companies are looking at revenue per square foot in a shop environment. “We looked at how we could best help our customers solve this problem and future-proof it,” says Bray. “When you implement automation, you don’t eliminate a person. You actually need an employee with more skill sets. Everyone is pushing tool changers and automation. And there are certainly many applications for it, but not every shop can afford a robotic bending cell.”

There are effective solutions available for customers willing to look at the big picture. MC Machinery is releasing a new tool changer at Fabtech as one such option.

“It used to be that for every CO2 laser, a customer could expect to use two to three press brakes,” Bray observes. ”With our press brake technology, we have a customer who processes an unprecedented amount of steel using one CO2 laser with automation and one press brake. The press brake operator works two hours less than the laser operator because the systems are so efficient.

“Educational technology is important because if we don’t capture the interest of young people, we will lose an entire generation from manufacturing,” he continues. “And that could be the difference between a country that buys things and one that makes things.” FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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