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Utility Pole Manufacturer Case Study

Creating Press Brake Efficiencies: How Pacific Press helped one manufacturer reduce set up time by 97% while increasing quality and output.

The Challenge

While many manufacturers have the foundation for a successful business, strategic adjustments to their process can often pay dividends in time and quality related savings. As a press and press brake OEM, Pacific Press Technologies aims to provide not only new equipment but assistance in making those strategic adjustments to existing lines to help that equipment lives up to its maximum potential.

One example of this process is the story of a North American based utility pole manufacturer. The company relies on a 56-foot-long tandem press brake system comprised two 1,500 ton Pacific Press brakes. While the machinery itself was in good shape, systems can lose efficiency over time for a variety of reasons. Factors can include experienced labor retiring, or manufacturing methodology not being updated with changing market demands. When this particular manufacturer found they were experiencing quality and production issues, they contacted their press brake OEM Pacific Press to develop a solution.

Upon a detailed investigation, Pacific Press discovered there were a couple of key issues that could be addressed:

  • Inaccurate punch tooling- The company’s existing punch tooling caused inconsistency in bend accuracy; a problem referred to as canoeing. The canoeing effect significantly increased weld time, (the next step in the production process) while some poles were of such bad quality that they had to be scrapped before even being sent to the weld department.
  • Long change-over time for channel die- Utility pole manufacturers must be flexible to meet changing market demands, and this fluctuation in demand means the manufacturer may be changing over tooling several times a day. Each material thickness requires a specific die opening to achieve the correct bend angle and inside bend radius. This manufacturer was changing die openings multiple times a day, spending up to an hour on each die change. The time spent changing over dies was valuable time lost manufacturing products for their customers.
  • Dated material handling system- the facility relied on a slow, often inaccurate material handling system that added time to an already sluggish process.

The Solution

After the experts at Pacific took the time to understand each of the manufacturer’s processes, and where the issues occurred, a custom solution was developed. High-quality punch tooling was designed specifically for the customer’s products, providing consistent, more accurate punches. Not only have the new punches increased bend accuracy, but downstream welding time and scrap rates have also both been significantly reduced.

When it came to the long channel die changer-over times, the engineers at Pacific developed an adjustable channel die system as a replacement. The adjustable channel die system made tooling swaps much faster, effectively reducing the change-over time from an hour to just two minutes, representing a 96.6% reduction in setup time. With the changeover time reduction, the manufacturer now enjoys greater flexibility in their production capabilities to meet market demands.

The Details

The final piece of Pacific’s high-efficiency solution provided to the manufacturer with a custom material handling system. The existing system proved to be slow and inaccurate, which contributed to a higher cost per unit. Pacific Press’ custom system provided a faster, more accurate part positioning. With Pacific’s exclusive positioner lay down system, new parts could be loaded onto the incoming conveyor while parts already in the brake were being formed at the same time. This solution removed the major bottleneck in the production process, further reducing production time and cost per unit.

When implementing this high-efficiency solution, it was important to the manufacturer to expedite the installation as much as possible, to limit the interruption on their production schedule. With that parameter in mind, the team at Pacific rallied its engineering and service teams together complete the installation and validation of the process in a short two-week time frame.

While this case study outlined just a few of the factors that can add inefficiency and cost to a production process, there are many other factors that can arise based on the machinery, application and integrated equipment involved. Are you wondering where you could save time and money in your press or press brake line? Contact us today to discover how the experts at Pacific Press can tailor a solution made specifically for your business.

Now that’s SOLUTIONS, DELIVERED.