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Bending/Folding

Different direction

By Gretchen Salois

A high-volume project entices one manufacturer to invest in a vertical rolling machine

April 2020 - Fatigue is a concern for heavy manufacturing companies, especially when running through processes that require workers to move hefty material to and from multiple stations manually.

At Production Fabricators Inc. (ProFab), each part took a total of two steps on two separate machines to complete. ProFab operators would bend large batches of steel blanks, first by pre-bending each blank on a press brake. The blanks were then formed again by inserting the pre-bent ends one at a time into a manual three-roll plate roll to complete the shaping process.

Using a SweBend QFV-1 vertical quick roll that was sourced through Trilogy Machinery (SweBend’s North American distributor), ProFab automated its bending process.

“The SweBend was an eye opener for us,” says Joe Hoofman, plant manager. “It was unlike any roller I had seen, which were horizontal rolls that you have to open the clamp and feed to extract the finished part.”

FFJ 0420 bending image1

Above left: The SweBend QF series of rolls come in various model sizes, in vertical or horizontal configurations, and can roll thin to thick materials in manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic modes.
Above right: All SweBend quick roll machines are thoroughly tested prior to shipment to ensure the customer takes delivery of a turnkey solution ready for production.

The vertical roll allows the blank to be inserted and it automatically clamps the material, rolls it and drops it into a bin once complete. “We were able to take our production rates from approximately 20 per hour to up to 180 to 200 pieces per hour, using a completely automated process. No more manual loading and off-loading,” Hoofman says.

Winning a high-volume project is what compelled ProFab to invest in the SweBend. “Previously, we were running 20,000 parts per year at 20 pieces an hour, or 1,000 hours,” Hoofman says. “Compare that with the new roller—we run that same job producing 200 parts per hour so instead of 1,000, it takes 100 hours. That is an unbelievable productivity increase, throughput and turnaround. It clinched the work for us with that customer.”

Roll line options

The SweBend QF series of rolls come in various model sizes, in vertical or horizontal configurations, and can roll thin to thick materials in manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic modes, including loading/unloading, as well as robot integration for a completely automated work cell.

“ProFab’s machine is run by a simple PLC but we have sold machines with full CNC capabilities to integrate with an automated production line,” says Matt Weeks, national accounts manager at Trilogy Machinery. “The SweBend quick roll series can be a good fit for a wide range of applications and create a massive ROI for a single machine to accurately and efficiently make parts that are often bottlenecks in the production process.”

FFJ 0420 bending image2

Trilogy approaches a customer’s specific situation by examining product mix and production volume factors. “If they are making entirely new or different products each day, they are probably a better fit for a traditional plate roll which has maximum flexibility,” Weeks says. However, if a customer produces repeat parts in large batches, a SweBend quick roll might be a better solution. “The quick roll machine will sacrifice some of the flexibility of a traditional plate roll in exchange for a massive reduction in cycle time and the elimination of the need for a highly skilled plate roll operator,” he explains.

In ProFab’s case, Trilogy identified a specific list of a dozen different parts produced in high volumes/batches. “We proposed the SweBend quick roll machine and once the machine was completed, we delivered a turnkey solution that required no on-site training and allowed the customer to simply power the machine up and start making good parts,” Weeks says.

SweBend QF roll systems are built to satisfy each customer’s specific set of circumstances; customers are increasingly interested in more automated processes.

“We can design and implement new or special features to suit specific needs,” Weeks says. “Features and options that benefit one customer may not benefit the next, so each project gets personal attention.”

FFJ 0420 bending image3

The SweBend QFH is a horizontal quick roll best suited for wider parts. The model above features an automatic infeed table that squares and loads the raw blank as well as an ejection chute to catch the finished cylinder.

Operator fatigue played a significant role in ProFab’s decision to invest in the SweBend. “We had one guy rolling these rings, hundreds per week,” Hoofman says. “These large rings are not easy to manually roll. He got it done but you could tell it physically wore on him. The SweBend machine was a godsend to our operators. They no longer need to load and off-load and that has helped tremendously.”

What began as a stamping house in the 1990s has evolved into an all-encompassing operation of laser cutting, forming and production work. ProFab offers processes including robotic and resistance welding. “We currently run four fiber optic lasers and eight press brakes along Wila USA new standard tooling,” Hoofman says.

Increased capacity allows ProFab to quote additional work it would not have had time for previously. “We can run through those high-volume jobs and when those are done, our operator can move on to other tasks,” Hoofman says.

ProFab was able to recuperate its capital investment in just over a year. After six years of continuously rolling parts for the trucking industry, the future looks bright. “We don’t see demand in that industry declining anytime soon. We’re keeping busy,” he adds. FFJ

Sources

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Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
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Barton International
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Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
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MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
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