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400 tons and special tooling, too.

When Steams Airport Equipment Co Inc, Ft Worth, TX, purchased an Amada 400-ton press brake in 1989, engineers literally took the company from the Stone Age to the 21st Century. Founded in 1936, Stearns is said to be the world's largest manufacturer of conveyor systems for airports and high-speed sorting systems for such customers as Federal Express and UPS. A subsidiary of Hobart Brothers Co, Troy, OH, Stearns also makes passenger-boarding bridges and walkways.

The $40-million company has 280 employees at its 44-acre site and expects to double its business within five years. Besides the domestic airline market, Stearns is pushing its marketing thrust worldwide with customers in Japan, Guam, and Puerto Rico. To maintain its competitive position, the firm relies on precision metal fabrication.

Thomas Boehmer, manager of plant engineering, said, "We needed automation for the past three to four years. Hobart acquired Sterns in 1988, and is responsible for purchasing the new Amada equipment. Now, we cut Parts on a hydraulic shear, punch them on a Pega 357 CNC, and bend them on our FBD 400.

"The basic component parts of the conveyor system are fabricated by the Pega and the FBD because of the close tolerances required. We're talking positioning accuracy and repeatability of +/-0.000411. Quality control is very important to US. Now, we don't have miss-matches on the assembly line. Those have all been eliminated bY the accuracy of the two new machines.

"We make tens of thousands of components before we finish a product. With the CNC machines, we can make a part in 1 min compared to 3 min on older machines. A part that used to cost us $1 to make on our old press brakes now costs only 6 cents on the new machine."

Boehmer pointed out advantages of the big press brake and the decision to buy this equipment:

* User friendly NC and machine. It doesn't take a highly skilled operator to run it.

* Ease of setup. It has cut setup time by 60 percent, and that's a conservative estimate.

* NC computer storage. The system stores a number of different part programs, thus assisting the setup process and enhancing profitability.

* Part quality.

* Availability of special tooling and a wide variety of standard tools.

Part with a curl

One of Stearns' unique parts formed on the FBD 400 is a curled panel section that goes on the side of a conveyor. The part is made of 12gage hot-rolled steel. (A 16-gage curl also is made.)

"The curled part required three bends using the manual machine," Boehmer says. "On the new press brake, however, it takes only two cycles and is a lot cleaner. The quality is better because of the special dies Amada created for us to form the part, and because of the high tonnage of the press itself. The purpose of the higher tonnage is to allow use of thicker-gage metal, but it also ensures precise action on lighter-rage materials.

"We believe the curl on the part is unique and is possible only because Amada designed and built the special tooling for us. The result is that we were able to bring that part back in house. The tooling has increased our productivity and saved us 50 percent in costs. The quality of the product has gone up, because we are in control. In all, it's a win-win-win scenario. "

In discussing the special tooling, Dave Bishop, assistant general manager, Tooling Div, Amada Engineering and Service Co Inc (AESI), says, "The challenge with Steams for the FBD 400 was to build a 6-ft solid-length tool that would retain the accuracy that was needed. We frequently build curling tools for customers, but to standard lengths of 32.871 and 16.34". Steams was anxious to avoid any tool mark by adjoining any special tooling. So they asked us to build it in a solid 6-ft length.

"Steams submitted drawings to us on the requirements for the curling product. We had to design two tools for two material thicknesses, 12 gage and 16 gage. Both curls have Ids of 0.750". On the first stage, the shape is like a J. On the second, it encloses the curl. We worked hard to get the curl in two hits instead of three.

The tools are made of 1045 tool steel, but the second tool of each pair takes most of the wear. Here, the actual forming area is made of D-2 tool steel to maximize resistance to wear."

Backgage to the fore

Rick Pawell, product manager, Bending Div, US Amada Ltd, says that Amada back-gage controls are programmed to accommodate the characteristics of the Amada bending system in general, and air-bending in particular-automatically compensating for springback and elongation.

He states, "The computer-analyzed machine design provides parallel deflection without additional hydraulics, and this allows air bending of different material thicknesses without need for shimming or variable crowning devices.

Sectionalized precision-ground tooling reduces tool inventories and allows rapid one-man setup. The NC9-EX NC backgage has a nonvolatile memory that stores 99 bends. And, a cassette memory device can hold more than 6900 bends. These features reduce setup time for both single-run and repetitive jobs."

Tom Boehmer adds, The Amada machine has cut materials cost in half. And, compared to operations on the manual machines, our productivity has increased four times. Future applications of the FBD 400 include bending the slide rail of the conveyor system, which will eliminate welding. "

For more press-brake information, contact US Amada Ltd, 7025 Firestone Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621 or circle 345.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:press brake for conveyor manufacturing
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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