The Problem: Turret punch press’ inability to produce new line of parts
The Solution: Servo-electric turret punch press with lights out capability
Quebec office product manufacturer’s investment in servo electric technology boosts productivity
When Flexfab decided to add a new line of products to its manufacturing operation in 2012, the management team realized the existing fabricating equipment didn’t have the capability to handle it.
The Anjou, QC, company is a manufacturer of high quality fully assembled metal office products such as filing, storage, and tower cabinets. The company was established in 1997 by founder and owner Pierre Tessier and his son Alexandre, engineer. Recently, Pierre’s daughter Caroline joined the company as president.
From its humble beginning in a 5,000 sq ft facility, the company has evolved into a leading manufacturer of standard and custom filing systems. Today, Flexfab operates from a 3,716 sq m (40,000 sq ft) manufacturing and warehouse facility and employees 25 people.
New Turret Punch Press
By late 2012, Flexfab’s management decided to replace its old hydraulic turret punch press. According to Alexandre Tessier, the reason for replacing the old turret punch press centered upon the old machine’s inability to produce the company’s new line of custom products. “The cost of labour is also very high in Montreal. In order to compete, we needed to cut labour costs and increase our productivity.”
After an extensive research of available models on the market, in January 2013, Flexfab chose the Prima Power E6 servo electric turret punch press with LST (load/unload/stacking). Prima Power introduced its first servo-electric turret punch press in 1998. The new E6 represents the third generation of this series, which the company says offers a 22 per cent faster cycle time compared with previous models.
The inherent benefits of servo electric include energy efficiency, versatility, accuracy, and low maintenance cost. This amounts to superior fabrication capabilities as well as outstanding operational economy.
“The primary reason that we chose the Prima Power E6 turret punch press was that the technology was more advanced and user friendly than others machines on the market,” says Tessier. “Because of the productivity and efficiencies of the E6, we can now compete with competitors’ products imported from China. All of our production is done in Canada. In addition, with the LST automation, we now have “lights out” production capability to minimize the rising labour costs. And the E6 has allowed us to improve the quality of the products.”
Other features that Tessier likes on the E6 are its auto-index and upforming capabilities, which allows the company to produce the door hinges in one operation. “Prior to purchasing the E6, we would have to buy the hinges and weld them onto the door,” explains Caroline Terrier. “Now we can fabricate the hinge onto the door with the E6, thus eliminating one additional stop of production and we no longer have a need to purchase the hinges.”
A large number of index tools facilitates set-ups and programming, shortens tool change times, and increases production speed. Maximum index rotating speed is 250 rpm. The rotation mechanism of the punch and die is mechanically engaged and disengaged vertically. It enables full tonnage punch speeds to be used in any station, with any tool size.
An additional forming cylinder is available. It is a servo-operated ram installed in the lower machine frame. It lifts the forming die to a programmed position. The tool is retracted after forming, preventing a collision with the moving sheet. With this cylinder, versatile forms up to 6 mm (0.63 in.) in height can be made.
The E6 also accommodates 60 x 120 sheets. “We can now use full sized sheets and nest parts, which allows more sheet utilization and produces less scrap,” notes Alexandre. With the LST, the E6 runs unmanned, which helps us reduce our labour costs.”
In addition to loading and unloading, the Prima Power LST also automates component handling. The robot picks components from the machine and stacks them into programmed positions in the palletizing area. Further, the LST features an automatic compact skeleton removal function, and the entire working cycle of the machine becomes automatic.
Improving fabricating efficiency
When Flexfab purchased the E6 turret punch press, the company also purchased two Prima Power eP-1030 servo electric press brakes. Prima Power has applied a servo electric drive system on the new eP-Series press brake. It is a fast, accurate, non-hydraulic bending solution. The innovative machine concept combines productivity, accuracy, flexibility, and reliability with high respect to ecological aspects that the company calls “Green Means”. The concept offers sustainability and manufacturing efficiency and productivity. It also means greater versatility, lower power consumption, less maintenance, and no oil to purchase or dispose. In addition, easy programming and outstanding accuracy eliminate waste production. The net result is the ability to form higher quality sheet metal parts at a lower cost.
“We do many short runs,” says Alexandre. “I like the ability to program our jobs and have it available immediately when we do the job again in five months. The eP-1030 servo electric press brakes provide us with high precision bending. From the beginning of the day to the end, the servo electric press brakes provide the same consistent quality…unlike the hydraulics machines.”
Investments that pay off
“The Prima Power machines have met and surpassed our objectives,” says Caroline. “Our labour costs have lowered because both the turret punch press and the press brakes have provided faster setups that are done automatically…and the E6 has lights out capability. The time of production is less than before, so we are able to cut our inventory levels. Before we purchased the Prima Power machines, we produced $300,000 worth of product per month. Now we do $800,000 per month. We more than doubled our production with the Prima Power equipment. For us, the Prima Power equipment was a good investment that allowed us to grow to another step and develop a new market.”
Alexandre adds that “the performance of E6 and the eB-1030 brakes have been very good…we have had very few problems. Prima Power has very good client services. The training was also very professional. If we ever have a problem, we can call and we get excellent service.” SMT