Let’s face it. When it comes to your metal fabrication shop needs, your main focus is on producing high quality results cost effectively. Equipment productivity is key to reducing internal costs and raising the margins of profitability on each job. If there are areas within your production process that slow down productivity, let’s identify them and find a few solutions that tend to bog down a fabrication flow. There are five steps you can follow to improve the productivity when it comes to the press brake operations.
Step 1: Organize the Workstation
Organization is important in any metal forming company with welding capabilities. If your operators must stop to find tools, this takes him or her away from focusing on operating the press brake. A cluttered workstation is also a safety hazard. There needs to be a place for everything within easy access. Operators should be trained to put tools back to specifically assigned spots so that they and others can access them anytime.
Step 2: Handling Tools Effectively
There are ways to do things that can have a huge impact. Most fabrication companies have a solid inventory of press brake tooling, each tool is relevant to a specific type of bend. Cutting corners on tool selection or not putting the time into choosing the right tool can add extra steps into the forming process. Stage-bending, for example, helps reduce the need to adjust or change die heights. Sometimes the decision to do stage bending instead of swopping out for the right tool can add more time than originally allocated in the estimate. Reducing overall set up time for each bending stage and lead to dollars in the bank. This all also leads to easier change outs and helps increase productivity.
Step 3: Take Advantage of Precision Tooling
Getting operators into better productivity habits is important. Have them work smarter and training them on the right tooling for each task is part of that. Segmented tooling allows the operator work with precut pieces to reduce waste and save time. That may require the blanks to be cut on a turret press or fiber laser cutting machine before it arrives at the press brake first. Furthermore, such operations reduce press brake tool wear, improves quality and lets you put less experienced operators on the job while reserving your more experienced operators for much more complex work.
Step 4: Use Power Clamping
A great way to reduce setup time is with power clamping. Operators can load and unload in front of the press, which goes faster than loading at the ends of the brake. It also saves space since front loading requires less space around the press brake. Up time for the machine is increased because it allows for clamp and seat tooling in one step.
Step 5: Use Control Technology Innovation
Finally, you should make use of any CNC programming installed on the press brake. If your operator is not fully trained on the full capabilities of the machine’s computer, let’s get them trained ASAP. Many of the CNC machines today can do so much more that they are currently being tasked with. Most machine manufacturers offer the training but require your operators to fly to a remote location. Our metal fabrication shop in Philadelphia brings the trainers to us and operators are trained on our machines. Don’t become one of those sheet metal fabricators that accepts the status quo as good enough. Continuous improvement should be part of the company culture.