Another challenge, particularly with
companies that have multiple press
brakes with multiple operators, can
be repeatability. One operator may
choose one set of tools to form a part,
and another operator may choose a
completely different set. The result is
two different parts.
Most offline programming platforms
allow fabricators to designate preferential tooling to shorten setup time
and establish standards. If all press
brake operators making the same part
use the same program, including the
same tooling and bend sequences,
they will form parts correctly.
Shops also can optimize the order
of forming jobs to minimize setup
time. The precaution to take here is
that the order does not affect downstream operations. For example, perhaps seven of the parts required for
an assembly are bent and waiting on
the last three because they require
another tool setup that will be used
later in production.
While rearranging the order of jobs
in the press brake department may increase bending capacity, it might not
shorten the overall manufacturing
time (receiving dock to shipping dock)
for the order. Grouping like jobs together may increase work-in-process
and hold up urgent orders. Would it
have been better to bend all parts for
the assembly in sequence, rather than
grouping like jobs together to eliminate or simplify changeovers?
Simulation software helps people
see myriad options, but all need to
be considered within a larger context.
The goal is to standardize procedures
and shorten each setup so that regardless of how many tools need to be replaced and rearranged, or how often,
the time between jobs is minimal.
The Value of Going Virtual
Virtual prototyping and offline programming for press brakes help
fabricators spot costly design errors
early and give them the information
they need to make decisions that affect cost and delivery times.
If a press brake isn’t making the right parts, it’s not
making money. What if the brake makes the wrong
parts? That is, what if the machine is forming a prototype
design that can’t be made; or a production part has to
be scrapped because of faulty programming or a “let’s
just make it work” tooling setup; or a part that’s not yet
needed is destined to sit as WIP for days or weeks? In
these and other cases, your press brake isn’t just not
making money, it’s losing money. Similarly, if people on
the floor struggle because processes aren’t documented
and the “go-to” person left the company, a shop loses
money on its personnel investment as well.
Offline programming and simulation protects investments in both equipment and personnel. People shouldn’t
spend their days trying to figure out how things are done;
they instead should keep producing and—thanks in part to
digitally documented procedures and simulations—
uncover ways to make quality parts in less time, from raw stock
to the shipping dock.
At the end of the day, it’s still about time.
Doug Wood is general manager, Americas, at Radan,
in both equipment