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C.I.A. ensures stamper maintains flexibility: price, accuracy, and delivery are critical to operating a contract stamping business; flexibility is the key to operating a profitable contract stamping business. Realizing this, an Iowa stamper has also used intelligence to expand its business.

In 1988, Co-Line Welding, Inc. (Sully, IA) began making and marketing Sure-Latch, a gate locking mechanism for farm, commercial and residential use. When first started and production volumes low, components were hand formed. As volumes increased, Co-Line purchased its first press to form the Sure-Latch part. It also took on outside jobs to fill press time. Today the company has 10 presses, ranging in size from a 60-ton to three 500-ton presses and has become a leading supplier of stamped metal parts for the automotive industry.

Teamwork is an essential element to the company's growth. And an example of the teamwork is evident in what the company refers to as its C.I.A. group, formerly the maintenance department. Mark Van Wyk of Co-Line's C.I.A., which he says is Co-Line's Continuous Improvement Agency, notes, "We've been charged with the responsibility to always investigate ways to improve our ... performance, not to just maintain the equipment, but to make the machines, the people, and the processes better. Part of our job is to find the supplier and the equipment that will help us reach these goals."



One supplier identified as a significant contributor to achieving the company's goals is Dallas Industries, Inc. (Troy, MI), producers of coil handling devices, air and electronic servo feed units, powered and pull-thru straighteners, and auxiliary feed line equipment. Co-Line started in 2000 with a Dallas motorized self-centering reel, then purchased a electronic roll feed with pull-thru straightener less than a year later. It also added a Dallas coil cradle a few months after, and recently acquired two additional electronic servo roll feeds, each equipped with heavy-duty pull-thru straighteners.

"One element important to a contract stamping operation like ours," says Brad Musgrove, Co-Line press room supervisor, "is the flexibility. We're saving from 70%-80% of the time it used to take for setups of our old air feeds. The servo units feature part memory, storing feed lengths and speed for up to 200 different parts. When we need to start a new job, we just enter its number and the electronics takes care of the rest.

"Also, because of the feed accuracy to [+ or -]0.003" we've been able to eliminate the physical or mechanical stops in our dies, thus making them easier to build," adds Musgrove. "In some cases, where applicable, we've sped up presses by approximately 15% ... the servo feeds allow us to keep pace. In addition, feed length adjustments from 0 to 99.999" means we no longer have to double stroke as with the air units, and, something not often thought of, the press room can now operate with just one air compressor, reducing power consumption and maintenance costs."

Musgrove says that for the most part, Co-Line runs stock from 0.065" up to 0.235" thick and no wider than 18", but occasionally has run jobs with material only 0.024" thick. "The servo feeds provide excellent control of acceleration," he points out, "which helps prevent the stock from being crimped or damaged. This is also when the Dallas motorized reel is ideal, in an application where thin stock should not be fed via a cradle since the weight of the coil could damage the material's surface."

The two latest Dallas additions to the Co-Line equipment list are the electronic roll feeds, each equipped with a heavy-duty pull-thru straightener. These units feature a capacity for 18" wide stock to 0.250" thick. The feed unit portion of these systems features 6" dia., full width (18") rolls that are hardened and provide a crodon finish for long wear and superior grip on the stock. The rolls are cluster gear driven for non-slippage through the entire adjustment range, and have dual air cylinders for open and close operation. Also, the unit is equipped with hardened vertical entry guide rolls, keypad interface, and digital display of length and feed information, forward and reverse jog buttons, and self-diagnostic electronics. Also, important to the operation of these systems is the high-torque, AC brushless servo drive motor and rugged, heavy-duty construction that allows the use of the pull-thru straightener mounted at the feed entrance. The straightener, with five rolls of 3.5" diameter, can effectively remove coilset in stock up to the units maximum 0.250" thickness.

Other features of these units include 10" range-adjustable cabinet height; central lubrication system; hand crank adjustment of entry vertical guides; material width indicators; air operated; pushbutton-controlled straightener pinch rolls, and entry and exit support extensions. Standard control functions include master start, manual and automatic, emergency stop, feed roll open/close, pilot pin release on/off, plus the forward and reverse jogging options.

The two units provide approximate feed and press speed values of up to 90 strokes per minute at a 6" feed length and a 270[degrees] press feed cycle.

"Having the straightener mounted on the feed mechanism proves to be an added bonus," remarks Musgrove, "in that we've reduced the amount of stock wasted while setting up the straightener and fine tuning for stock flatness. The straightener, being closer to the press in this situation, means less material has to be played out and run before any adjustments can be made and flatness verified."

A second benefit of the combination pull-thru straightener and roll feed is compactness; there is no need for loop control or slack between feed unit and straightener, saving floor space. Dallas Industries or Circle 210 for more information
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Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:May 1, 2004
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