CONVENTIONAL production-line steel processing dictates that one part is made at a time. Parts are processed sequentially and eventually become part of a larger whole. However, it has been shown that this system, being sequential, is inherently inefficient as, among other things, the production line has to cater for intermediate storage and retrieval of semi-finished goods.
With this in mind, the BLM Group has developed a productivity enhancing solution in its 3-Runner, Smart, E-Shape and E-Form suite of machines. In South Africa, BLM equipment is represented by First Cut, a distributor of cutting consumables and capital equipment.
The 3-Runner straightens, forms and cuts tubes from a coil. It cuts these to parts of different lengths and feeds a Carm 7 loader linked to the Smart bending machine. The Carm 7 selects the tubes according to their length, feeding them into the Smart tube bender, notifying the bender of what type of tube it is feeding next.
The 3-Runner can be configured and used with an array of other BLM equipment to carry out either a single job or as a complete production process, being modular and customisable. It is possible to use the 3-Runner as the basis of a system and then add to it with functions such as forming and programmable unloading.
“With the 3-Runner, all machine movements are managed by electric axis and all positions and parameters are saved in the part program. This guarantees fast set-up and accurate positioning while diminishing the need for highly skilled technicians to be constantly in attendance,” First Cut said in a statement.
The Smart tube bender is capable of both right-hand and left-hand bending. Stack tooling provides multiple radius capability to bend tube, wire or hybrid tubes (with flanges or end forms).
“The Smart is particularly well suited for bending complicated shapes and multiple-radii tubes used in the automotive, air conditioning, heating and refrigeration industries.”
Once the Smart has bent the tube, the robot loader unloads the part and feeds it to either the E-Shape or the E-Form end formers according to what type of part it needs to be. Once end-forming is complete, the loader unloads the part into a selected container.
The E-Shape and E-Form all-electric tube forming machines exert up to 10 tons force and employ a wide variety of forming tools for maximum production versatility. As the action of the machine is horizontal, there are no overhead hindrances to operation. The E-Shape can be set up for 10 processing stations (the E-Form has seven processing stations) and both can be easily equipped with ram stations, rotary tools or cutting tools. While the E-Shape performs CNC end-forming and facing, the E-Form performs the additional function of rolling.
By combining these technologies, it is possible to obtain parts with repeatable end forms, finish and quality.
“This enhanced efficiency has one immediate benefit in that it minimises part costs, as various operations can be overlapped.