Family-run Dale Sheetmetal Ltd, based in Kings Lynn (Norfolk, UK), has been making fabricated parts since 1976 and produces parts for the food industry, especially commercial refrigeration projects, as well as components for electronics, petro-chemical and architectural applications.
The shop’s aim is to add value for its customers by fabricating and welding subassemblies from the individual parts it produces, simplifying the manufacture of its customers’ finished products, by using its skills to deliver high quality assemblies using just-in-time (JIT) and Kanban principles.
The company had been using two hydraulic turret punch presses for some time and needed to increase production. However, the machines it had were unreliable and the shop was running at the top limit of the available electricity supply to the factory. Dave Dale, the managing director says, “We saw the E5x turret punch press from Prima Power UK Ltd (Coventry, UK) at an exhibition and were impressed with its simplicity and low power consumption. Within weeks of the installation we absolutely loved the machine.”
The company removed the two hydraulic machines and added a second E6x punch press and, with an average power consumption of only 4 kW for each machine, saved a considerable amount in energy costs and gave itself more capacity to power additional equipment. Tom Dale, the technical director adds, “On the hydraulic machines, the pumps alone were continuously consuming 35 kW of power while the new machines are using just 4 kW when in use, and next to nothing when idle.”
An overview and demonstration of the E6x punch press.
Once Dale Sheetmetal started using these new machines for a short while, it discovered that its tooling costs had dramatically reduced. Dave Dale says, “Previously our tooling bill was around £2000 per month. Now it is £2000 per year. I can only put it down to the accuracy of the machines and the shearing action of the punches under servo-electric power, which has proved to be very kind on tools.”
On paper, the punching rate of the old hydraulic machines was twice as fast as the new machines, but the actual number of parts produced on the E6x and the E5x has greatly exceeded what was ever achieved by the hydraulic machines. Dave Dale says, “We have done time studies and the output of these machines is greater with its faster turret and much shorter lag in the program, which results in more efficient punching.”
Tom Dale elaborates, “On the old machines the movement was much more frantic, which resulted in sheets wrapping them around the turret, being pulled out of the clamps or even ruined by hydraulic leaks. With these new machines the most apt word is ‘relentless,’ enabling them to produce parts all day long without any drama or fuss.”
The reliability of the punching process has other advantages as a major factor in the cost of parts is the cost of the material itself. Avoiding destroying a sheet of parts through safe and steady production methods adds considerably to profitability and makes it easier to achieve on time delivery. For Dale Sheetmetal, this is extremely important as it works to weekly schedules of parts, which are usually a mix of large quantities of around 400 different components.
Technology on the machine further increases productivity. Moveable clamps enable punching to take place within the clamp area, saving 7 percent to 8 percent of the material which would otherwise be wasted. Intelligence in the turret also knows where tools are located. If a program calls a loaded tool but in a different pocket, the machine automatically selects the location where the tool is actually positioned, making it unnecessary to edit the program or move the tool which, according to Dave Dale, can save 30 minutes per day in setting time.
The E6x and the E5x have produced a significant improvement in the working environment for the shop as the machines are considerably quieter in operation than the hydraulic machines they replace. Tom Dale says, “The O-frame design absorbs the noise and there is no continual noise from hydraulics. Also the punch shears through the material rather than firing through as it does with the hydraulic machines. The operators like the machine, which makes them more productive, and you can quite easily carry out a conversation on the shop floor which was very difficult with the old machines.”
The type of work which the shop does lends itself to punching. It has made bespoke panels with 130,000 holes, while white laminated steel and coated aluminium are not suitable for laser cutting as it can damage the surface or make the coating difficult to remove. However, the company does mix processes where appropriate, with both punching and laser cutting being performed on one part where this is faster.
Dave Dale says, “We are always looking at new production methods and in our recent trip to Prima Power in Finland we were impressed with the Shear Genius® SGe servo-electric punch and right angle shear. For largely rectangular parts this could be very interesting for us. We would have no worries in extending our partnership with them as the machines have been highly cost effective, very reliable and the service has been excellent with same day or next day response.”
The Prima Power Group offers a complete range of equipment for the sheet metal industry. With over 30 years of experience, it has over 10,000 machines installed in more than 70 countries. It has manufacturing facilities in Italy, Finland, the U.S. and China and it offers sales and service through a worldwide network of Group companies and distributors. Its range of machinery covers bending, punching, punch-shear, laser, combi and FMS. Automation through automatic loading and unloading, transfer between stations and buffering are highly important for modern productivity. Prima Power can provide a range of solutions and software systems tailored to suit manufacturer’s requirements, even for the most complex applications.
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