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CNC turret punch enhances competitiveness of mid-sized manufacturer.

CNC turret punch enhances competitiveness of mid-sized manufacturer

From conventional to progressive--that's the leap Bud Industries, a Willoughby, OH-based manufacturer of standard and custom chassis and computer cabinetry, has taken with the addition of a high-performance, CNC turret punch press with automatic load/unload. In replacing fabricating equipment at Bud West Inc, Peoria, AZ, facility, the company opted to bypass conventional punching equipment for advanced fabricating capabilities and the likelihood of a flexible fabricating system in the 1990s.

For a mid-sized operation, it was a big step from production via conventional Class A tooling to CNC; a step that meant a radical change in production method and capabilities. But, according to Dan Lucas, Bud Industries' Corporate Director of Manufacturing, it was a necessity to meet company concerns of increasing setup and shearing costs, production time, and scrap material. And, with an eye toward expanding its custom fabricating (specials, modified standards, or complete custom work, which presently represents 20 percent of Bud's production), company officials knew they had to look beyond the conventional. Production of Bud's standard line of some 2200 products could be done using existing equipment. This included manual turret presses, shears, press brakes, and straight side presses. The modification of standards and custom applications called for the use of more advanced manufacturing methods.

"Doing modifications and specials the traditional way is much more expensive than using modern technology," says Mike Moore, Bud West's director of manufacturing. "We were restricted by standard run-of-the-mill punch presses we had. So while theoretically we could do those operations (with the equipment we had), it was much more expensive and that made us less competitive."

As a mid-sized operation with total manufacturing space of about 250,000 square feet and more than 200 employees, the company found it a challenge to compete with larger, better-equipped facilities as well as more competitive job shops.

"This is a very competitive market. It's very difficult to do business today," says Lucas. "Anyone can be a competitor of ours--from a small garage-type operation to some of the biggest manufacturers. The larger companies know and have the where-with-all to invest in the latest and best technology. We are a middle-sized company--privately owned--that has invested money over the years in a particular type of technology." Lucas says it was tough to break ties with a 60-year tradition of relying on standard fabricating equipment to produce both standard products and custom jobs: "We've done it this way for a long time so why change? It's been very difficult to change our thinking." But, Lucas and Moore perceived that a change in attitude was crucial to the company's future growth.

CNC solution

As a solution to its present fabricating needs and as a way to become more competitive in the custom market, Bud turned to a CNC turret punch press--Strippit's Fabri-Center 1000 XT with automatic load/unload system.

A 24-station turret machine, with punching speeds of 200 HPM on 1" centers and traverse speeds of 2000 ipm, the FC 1000 XT processes sheets up to 48" x 48" using extended range clamps. Mild steel up to 1/4" thick can be fabricated at accuracies of plus minus0.005".

Equipped with two auto-index stations to allow tool rotation 360 deg via CNC, the punch press gives Bud the versatility to index tools at various angles--a necessity when nesting many parts. Company officials look to add a multiple position tool holder to the auto-index station to further boost turret capacity and reduce set-up time.

"When we can go and see a small job shop taking our product and making modifications on it then we're doing something wrong--we should be able to do it better and cheaper than they can," notes Moore, "but we couldn't compete against them."

Moore points to the example of aluminum boxes typically run by the thousands that were increasingly being custom manufactured by local job shops. Says Moore, "That's the type of job we hate to see go out because we have all the dies to form them but we couldn't put the holes in competitively enough. Now with this type of machinery we're able to. So now we're competitive enough to do that for them.

"The FC 1000 XT is a start for us. A start in updating and modernizing our operation." says Lucas, "we just could not see ourselves going along the same way, continually losing out on jobs that we knew we should have, so we decided to take the step and get familiar with CNC equipment. If we were going to upgrade or add to Bud West capabilities I did not want to invest money in standard-type equipment. So we convinced everyone that the CNC press would be a step toward accomplishing what we were trying to do.

As is typical of most custom sheet metal operations, Bud has no standard job run. Production runs range from one piece to a thousand with a ration of 70/30 percent aluminum/cold rolled steel.

Prior to CNC, employees would average eight hours creating a template. Now, explains Moore, "there are jobs pending we are making prototypes for that we never would have attempted before."

An automated future

Company officials also saw the addition of a CNC turret press as a preliminary, "get-acquainted" step before the integration of a flexible manufacturing system--a system Bud looks to have in place at its Bud East facility to carry the company through the 1990s.

With this objective in mind, Lucas and Moore sought out a turret press that would be flexible enough to allow integration into a flexible manufacturing setup. For that reason, Bud West has outfitted their first piece of CNC equipment with an automatic load and unload system.

According to Moore, the material handling system adds much in the way of flexibility. The load/unload system automatically maintains scheduled production and creates a continuous work flow to reduce worksheet handling time by as much as 80 percent.

"Normally, our indirect time was a catch-all. It couldn't be controlled. With the turret press and loader, the quicker they (Bud employees) can get the machine up and running, the sooner they don't have to work as hard. It behooves them to get the machine set up. They set up for 20 to 30 minutes and then the machine does the work for them"

After-support is crucial

"We needed support for the first month," says Moore, "it's hard when you don't realize what the machine can do. I think the lesson we learned is that you have to educate in advance."

Notes Lucas, "I can't impress the importance of education enough. But you have to simplify it. You have to make sure that everybody understands what's happening. We geared our people up--the operators, the programmers."

Implementation of the CNC turret press with the load/unload has also gained Bud more flexible workforce. Says Moore, "I want to be able to have people that are capable of doing many tasks instead of just one. It (the FC 1000 XT) takes the drudgery away from their work. They want them to be able to contribute to the overall operation of the plant--the end product. With the FC 1000 XT, they do."

High-tech dividends

After 60 years of employing standard production methods that have contributed to mounting production problems and a loss of custom sheet metal jobs, Bud Industries is now reaping the benefits of CNC fabricating technology.

"It's opened up some new doors for us," says Moore, "we are getting quite a few jobs that I don't think we would have had before--some modified standards, some specials. We are able to integrate a lot of our standard product on it (the FC 1000 XT) and even though we may have Class A tooling, I'm still able to use it because there are fewer setups involved."

Contributes Lucas, "The old way no one was going to let us build the hard tooling. Our tooling costs would be so high that they wouldn't even consider us. Now at least, we have a chance."

For more information, contact Strippit Inc, A Unit of IDEX Corp, 12975 Clarence Ctr Rd, Akron, NY 14001. Circle 429 1103

Match and flow


It's no longer necessary to depend on operator skill for match grinding. Engineers recently applied a Sheffield MatchForm system to grind valve spools for aerospace fuel control. The system precision grinds all ODs and lands of each valve spool for a perfect fit with its corresponding valve sleeve.

The equipment grinds valve-spool ODs to fit valve-sleeve bore sizes within 0.000 050", including consideration of sleeve-bore out of roundness. It positions and grinds lateral lands within 0.000 050" of target locations to ensure proper fuel-flow rates.

According to Sheffield's executive VP, Robert Lord, "Until now, processing these parts involved manual gaging, manual machine operation, and manual post-machining inspection, often requiring several passes at all three steps to produce parts to specification. Time, accuracy, and cost of producing critical components in fuel-control and hydraulic system were determined by operator skill and feel, which varied from day to day."

The heart of the new system is a Sheffield CNC plunge and step MatchForm grinding machine with resolution accuracy of 0.000 010" and repeatability of 0.000 020". the machine has menu-driven CyberFlex(R) IIICNC for quick change-overs to new part numbers.

The MatchForm machine also features a temperature-control system, precision linear scales, flagging gage for precise lateral location of lands, and in-process OD gage to control final size. The system's computer provides statistical analysis for gaging bore size and out of roundness. Also, a flow-test fixture verifies conformance to specifications.

The match-grinding portion of the process consists of: (1) programming the part, (2) calibrating the system from master valve components, (3) gaging and reading diameters and out of roundness of valve-sleeve bore diameters, (4) calculating target valve-spool ODs, (5) instructing the machine to grind proper OD size, (6) grinding the part, (7) verifying part size, and (8) documenting each part set.

The flow-grinding portion of the process consists of: (1) programming the machine to rough grind the lands, (2) rough grinding the lands, (3) testing the part to measure flow rates and calculate offsets, (4) instructing the machine on land offsets, (5) finishing grinding the lands, (6) verifying the part, and (7) documenting the part set.

For more information, contact. Sheffield Machine Tool Co, PO Box 1467, Dayton, OH 45401-1467. Circle 302. 0602

HBM provides

toolroom savings

Parish Div, Dana Corp. Reading, PA, installed a CNC horizontal boring mill with universal tilting head to expedite production and maintenance of dies and other tools. The firm manufactures truck-axle housings and body-frame components, relying on efficient toolroom operations to keep production profitable.

According to Production Manager Robert Walters, Parish/Dana sought to upgrade toolroom machining capability to perform work whose size and weight restrictions required outside vendors. Also, engineers wanted to expedite work previously performed in-house but requiring time-consuming multiple setups. After considering three machines, they settled on the Wotan Rapid 5, installed in early 1987.

"We use the Wotan to machine various new tools and maintain existing tools used in our manufacturing processes," says Walters. "Materials being cut are A-2, D-2, S-7 tool steels, Ampco Grade 18, boiler plate, 4150, cast steel, and machine steel. The amount of metal removal and machine feeds and speeds vary enormously, based on tool condition and required setup."

Walters adds, "In our experience, the Rapid 5, with its high rigidity, 400 ipm capability, and 80-hp ram, allows significantly higher metal-removal rates than we had previously experienced. In addition, the combined spindle and ram extension of nearly 6 ft gives us the added reach to eliminate multiple setups in many situations."

He cites the example of a 20-ft die for a 1991 customer program. The Wotan's speed and cutting ability eliminated the need for templates, saying 100 man hours. Based on performance such as this, Walters expects to use the machine extensively for large bolster and ram plates to implement quick-die-change systems for the firm's presses.

For more information on CNC HBMs, contact Wotan Machine Tools, Div Hunter Douglas Inc, 14-45 Madison Rd, Fairfield, NJ 07006. Circle 312. 0502

Radial riveter makes

its mark

A Midwest supplier to the automotive industry produces a knock sensor used to adjust fuel flow in gasoline engines. The original process made the part in two separate operations requiring two machines. Here's how engineers simplified the job.

The knock-sensor assembly consists of an aluminum base with a hexagon flange and threaded stud, a plastic (thermoset) cover with molded male contact, and a cup diaphragm and spring. Originally, a hydraulic press crimped a collar extension to the flange of the plastic cover to fasten the plastic to the base and secure the diaphragm and spring. Then, the system had to stamp part numbers on two sides of each base.

Both operations were hand fed. Crimping force was between 8000 lb and 10,000 lb, which occasionally distorted the mild-steel parts. A switch to a Bracker Model RNR-280 radial riveter with six station indexer and a marking unit simplified the setup, allowing production of the part in just one operation. The riveter now assembles and marks each sensor.

Because the radial riveter uses only 15 percent of the force of a hydraulic press, the new setup eliminates workpiece distortion and reduces excessive tool wear that had resulted from the abrasiveness of the aluminum workpiece under high-pressure forming. Also, reduced riveting force lessens the need to refinish the forming surface of the swaging tool.

The radial head-forming device, with its patented forming path, requires minimum vertical pressure and thus can consistently swage the assembly without cracking the thermoset cover. This ensures that the part will have no leaks.

The radial forming system provides low-cost forming, assembling, and fastening of metallic and nonmetallic materials. And, in this case, it has the extra station for marking. The manufacturer says the forming systems can boost production up to 160 percent over conventional methods.

For more information, contact Bracker Corp, PO Box 441, Pittsburgh, PA 15106-0441. Circle 303. 2002

Flattening, CNC-prep


A George Fischer-Brugg precision flat-metal leveling machine at TCI Aluminum accepts customer-furnished parts up to 7/16" thick and up to 29 1/2" wide. The new Swiss machine can run at economical production rates while ensuring flatness of sheared, stamped, fine-blanked, and machined parts.

An automatic control for straightening pressure assures flatness for aluminum parts within 0.0005 ipi and within 0.000 25 ipi for steel. Pushbutton electronic setup for automatic roll-leveling pressure and feed control permits high efficiency even when flattening small lots.

The firm specializes in premachining and grinding aluminum, other nonferrous metals, and steel, getting it ready for CNC finish machining.

Get more information from John Belzer, TCI Aluminum, 240 E Rosecrans Ave, Gardena, CA 90248. Circle 310. 2402
COPYRIGHT 1989 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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