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Spotlight on customized hydraulic presses

By Sue Roberts

Customized hydraulic presses have been dancing around the fabricating industry for many years. Tailored to specific needs, the features and options of each press are chosen by the user to perform a specific application such as blanking, coining, compression molding, forming, punching or stamping.

Each customer becomes part of the design team, working with the machine tool builder to incorporate the speeds, bed size, tonnage, stroke and any specialty options to best meet production goals.

Choosing hydraulics over mechanical operation provides the additional benefits of minimizing the footprint and reducing overall investment. Hydraulics allow the generation of high forces in a compact area, reducing the overall structure and mechanism required for support of the force actuators. A mechanical press of the same tonnage is a larger machine requiring significantly more space and upping the initial investment.

The number and variety of custom-designed hydraulic presses available at any given time is virtually limitless. Each machine is the product of a fresh design, making the most recent machine shipped from the manufacturer virtually the newest model.

Cooperative creativity
In some cases, the customer brings more to the design table than his forming requirements. Acuity Brands Lighting’s Indiana production facility, for example, worked with Beckwood Press Co. to integrate press bed rollers to minimize die setup time for its latest press.

Acuity, the world’s largest manufacturer of lighting fixtures, has 24 manufacturing facilities throughout North America and Europe. Products include indoor and outdoor lighting for commercial, institutional, industrial, infrastructure and residential applications. Architects, contractors, energy service companies and maintenance personnel alike are familiar with Acuity brands that include Lithonia Lighting, Hydrel, Peerless, MetalOptics and Carandini.

Corporate-wide emphasis at Acuity continually focuses on creating a leaner, more effective organization to support efficient production and new product development. Part of that focus is to make machine purchases and initiate processes that increase capacity without increasing headcount. In 2006, the company’s efforts were rewarded with a 12 percent increase in customer orders.

Production of reflectors that are incorporated into a myriad of Acuity lighting fixtures is done at the Crawfordsville, Ind., facility. Anodizing, spinning, buffing, punching and hydroforming processes pump out a broad variety of the aluminum components. For many of the reflector designs, material moves from metal spinning operations to hydraulic presses, many of them custom, that punch sockets and side holes in the down-lighting pieces.

Progressive and lean
One of the lean initiative goals in the Crawfordsville facility is to reduce setup time by 25 percent. Currently, dedicated setup people handle the die changeovers. A typical changeover takes from 10 min. to 20 min.; the goal is 12 min. to 15 min. With continuous adjustments and improvement, they expect to meet this goal before the end of 2009.

Ronald Knight, product manager at Acuity’s Crawfordsville plant, explains that 15 of the company’s newest presses have been fitted with computerized "smart die systems" to reduce die changeover time. The smart die system stores job parameters for each die. Precise pressure and position, including pressure-holding, speed-control dynamic adjustments to real-time operating variances, can be controlled.

"We are currently running 200 to 300 dies," says Knight, "some of which run one to two orders. Quick die change is very important to our production process."

New machine tool purchases must fit into Acuity’s lean equation, which is where working with customized hydraulic presses comes into play. Acuity defines the machine requirements for the specific application and includes its own ideas to improve the production process.

Newest is best
Features of the newest Beckwood press include a 35-ton capacity, a 30-in. press stroke and 36-in.-by-36-in. bolsters. Optimum speeds for the application were determined to be 440 ipm on approach, 36 ipm for press and 44 ipm for return.

Several design elements work toward time- and labor-saving goals. Bed rollers provided by Acuity were integrated into the design to assist with quick die change. A new safety light curtain incorporating a four-corner mirror system eliminates the guards with safety interlocks, increasing productivity while still safeguarding operators.

"We asked Beckwood for a larger control transformer for integration with our smart die system," Knight explains. "We had them change the swing-out pedestal to give the operator a little more usability. Operators love the quick die change and the light curtain. The setup men love this press."

Acuity also came up with an idea to add a bed bolster extension to retain clamping ability. Beckwood engineered a system to meet this request using Finite Element Analysis design testing to ensure structural integrity.

Acuity’s presses have varying levels of customization and sophistication. Some applications may share the same requirements for speeds, bed size, tonnage stroke and other features, but they may vary depending on the system and product needs. The idea behind the customization is to provide the optimum system for each application at the right price.

Knight has seen value in investing in custom presses. "The benefits to customization are not buying what we don’t need," he says. "With our last press purchase we didn’t need the standard 100-ton press. We needed a 35-ton press with a 30-in. stroke and larger bed size. Why waste money on extra options or a higher capacity press?" FFJ

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

WATERJET

DEBURRING/FINISHING

LVD Strippit

PUNCHING

Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

METAL FORMING

Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

WELDING

Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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