Brian Smith, president, and KC Lesch, COO, at Albina Co. Inc. discuss the reasons why they selected DAVI Promau for their steel bending, rolling and fabrication processes.
Albina Co. Inc. is a family owned business servicing the steel industry since 1939. Located in Portland, Oregon, they serve all United States and Canada. Steel bending, steel rolling and steel fabrication are their bread and butter, since they curve structural steel members, various sizes of round pipe and HSS material, and plates.
With a big angle roll (MCP) and a 3 roll variable axis plate roll (MAV) purchased in the last two years, Albina started partnering with DAVI. This led us to the chance of talking with Brian Smith, president, and KC Lesch, COO, at Albina.
For starters, Brian told us about the history of the company and the recent rolling needs. “Our first angle rolls were homemade and started us on our 81-year adventure as a bending company. After many years, when we started rolling plate, our equipment allowed us to bend small and medium sized material. Last year, then, we decided to take the leap and go into the large plate rolling market and purchased a DAVI MAV, allowing us to bend 64 mm x 3 mt wide plates,” he said.
Then, he explained which criteria they use when they select a new rolling machine. Being downtime a schedule and reputation killer, quality is the first feature, since the equipment must be dependable and operational 24/7, as well as it needs to be innovative in some way. Secondly, an unmatched customer support—that is, they look for a company wanting to team up and having longevity in the industry. Moreover, easy access to spare parts and tooling and, last but not least, price (reasonable and within budget).
Do you remember getting your first cellphone? What was the first thing you took out of the box and spent time with? It was probably the user manual. The cellphone was a new technology, and you needed time to understand and learn to use it. It wasn’t intuitive, and you absolutely needed that manual.
What happens when you get a new smartphone today? You unwrap the well-designed package, admire your shiny new device, turn it on, and get started. It’s probably already charged and just waiting for you to use it. That’s it. It doesn’t have any buttons or dials; the entire surface is a human-machine interface, or HMI. And it probably doesn’t have a manual. A pop-up notification shows you received a new message, and you just tap to see what it is. It’s intuitive.
Press brakes last much longer than cellphones, of course. That’s why in many job shops today you might find both mechanical and hydraulic press brakes with old controls. They can last 30 years or longer and still bend parts. Of course, just because a machine turns on does not mean it can produce parts efficiently. If you see less seasoned operators attempt to run the shop’s oldest brake, you’ll probably hear them say, “Does anybody know how to operate this machine?”
Learning and understanding bending theory is probably as challenging as learning to be a good welder. It takes time and patience to learn the differences between every machine. Those differences can be significant, especially in a bending department with both old and new equipment. They require different training strategies, all driven by technology that has literally changed how operators learn about sheet metal bending: the software and machine control.
The Pre-Smartphone Era
Imagine starting a new job as a press brake operator around the same time that you received your first cellphone, before the smartphone era. You spend most of the time going through the manual, guided by a veteran who knows the machine inside and out. You read the blueprint and adjust the machine settings as necessary. You learn how to adjust the position of each axis, determine where the backgauge needs to be, dial in the part, make other adjustments by typing nominal values into the controller, then run production until you need to switch over to the next part. Once you understand the basic concept of one machine, you walk to the next press brake and learn this process from the beginning again, with your experienced tutor and the manual right next to you.
You receive a printed blueprint, and you write the program at the machine control. You determine the material type and thickness, define your bend angle, then position your backgauges manually for each bend. If not provided on the print, backgauge positions are defined as an actual absolute value that needs to be calculated manually
Overall you spend 10 minutes (or longer) getting the press brake ready to make the first bend—and that old machine control gives you no indication of how to do this. By looking at the control alone, you don’t know which tools to pick or how to set them up. That’s why you need an experienced operator by your side. He knows the setups and best ways of doing it by memory. Still, even with all his knowledge and experience, he pays very close attention to his choices so he doesn’t make any mistakes. Setup is time-consuming, and the old machine control doesn’t give much if any assistance.
At some point, you’re on your own. You position the peripherals of the machine first so you know where to place the tools. What tools do you select for this job? You’d better have a quick guide or “little black book” close to the press brake to know which tools to pick.
The Smartphone Era
The control shows other relevant information, including raw material location, customer information, and due date.
Fast-forward to today. Imagine you just graduated from school and you’re now looking for your first real job in the sheet metal industry. Thing is, you aren’t on the shop floor with an experienced employee who has operated just one machine his entire career.
Instead, you’re in a classroom environment. You sit by a desktop PC with the press brake operating software installed. You don’t have a printed machine manual, and on some days you might not work with someone with decades of press brake experience, especially if they’re needed on the floor. But that’s not a problem—and here’s why.
Following the postponement of EuroBLECH 2020, LVD announces plans for a series of Virtual Technology Events and Technology Days to be held September through November 2020 to launch and showcase new laser cutting, bending and punch press products for the sheet metalworking market.
LVD Technology Events will spotlight products originally planned to debut at EuroBLECH and will offer a combination of virtual events and in-person Technology Days at its Experience Center in Gullegem, Belgium.
Both the virtual and onsite events will give attendees an in-depth look at LVD’s latest advancements. The Virtual Tech Events will provide full product demonstrations, informational sessions on various metal fabricating technology and industry trends, and offer a platform for information sharing, as you would expect at a physical trade show. Technology Days at the LVD XP Center will take place with significantly smaller groups and with increased safety measures in place.
EuroBLECH, the world’s largest sheet metalworking exhibition, has been postponed to March 2021 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“Without strong confidence that health and safety guidelines can be maintained in a large tradeshow setting such as EuroBLECH, we need new ways to connect with fabricators to help them discover new technologies,” said LVD CCO, Francis De Bie.
“As we adapt to the ‘new normal,’ it’s more important than ever to help companies build more flexible and resilient businesses.”
Dates and additional details for LVD Technology Events will be announced in early August.
Manufacturers are now adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to further create value for the customers. But how would AI be applied to sheet metal bending? In this article, Melvin Tham, Regional Technology Expert – Bending, for TRUMPF, explains.
Using conventional press brakes to achieve high accuracy for sheet metal is challenging due mainly to the property of the material, where its elasticity varies according to its composition and grain direction. Therefore, the process would usually take a longer time as it requires more knowledge and skill in order to achieve higher accuracy.
In today’s industrial environment, machines are loaded with functions to ensure that the manufactured parts are precise and consistent with minimal human/operator intervention, and manufacturers are now adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to further create value for the customers. But how would AI be applied to sheet metal bending?
Automatic Set Up
Given the current high-mix, low-volume market demand, the system must be easily set up within minutes to cater for a job change over. Therefore, a self-centring tooling system would be most ideal. With an automatic tool changer, there is no longer a need for alignment as the tools are automatically placed in position and integrated into the machine. It has three to four times more storage capacity than the machine’s bending length, all just to ensure a quick changeover and without the hassle of tool shortage.
Positioning and Angle Accuracy of Part
Since the bending process is now automatic, the quality of the parts has to be checked automatically as well. Such system would require high dynamic functions such as the backgauge. The backgauge with an axis tolerance of ±0.02 mm and the angle sensor tool with tolerance at ±0.5 deg are required to ensure that the part is placed accurately in position and angle tolerance is achieved by an angle checking device.
Sensors of the backagauge are necessary for the identification of the part in position. Without this, the part would not be able to achieve its desired flange length.
An automatic detection of the angle needs to be equipped to determine the correct angle to be achieved for each bend. With Automatic Controlled Bending (ACB), the total completion time to bend, calculate and adjust will take less than a second!
Identification of Parts and Positioning Compensation
The system must be able to detect the correct part to pick up and automatically determine the datum point to compensate positioning error. It is important to define the datum point so that all bending sequence and positioning accuracy can be referenced.
Although a structured stand that pre-fixed the part datum point can be achieved, the best possible solution will be with a high-resolution and precise camera profile detection that is flexible and automatic. This camera device could detect the sheet stack, height and fine profile of the part for single sheet without the need to specifically prepare sheet in a fixed position. With such function, a lot of time is saved from the preparation for defining, picking and loading of parts.
The grippers picking up the parts are of critical importance as well. Our grippers are designed with the concept of holding the parts as firmly as a human hand would. The gripper can be used for multiple parts and the suction cups can be pneumatically turned on or off to cater to different profiles and gripping area.
CAM-assisted Offline Programming
Software plays a very important role in automation. It should be able to strategically control all movement offline with intuitive graphical teaching.
In the past, robot movements are codings that are entered line by line in order to perfect a smooth travel path. With advanced software like TruTops Bend Automation, not only are we are able to graphically teach the movement from one point to another, we can also teach the robot to flip, load and unload the part. The software enables us to run a simulation prior to the actual process.
Robotic Movement and Payload
There are many robotic equipment in the market, with some having more than eight axis of movement and payload of more than 1,000 kg! So how do we know which is suitable?
In bending, it is always the working area within the press brake and robotic system. The bigger the working capacity means there is a better flexibility on the type of profile that can be bent.
The longer the trackway of the robot arm, the more parts can be prepared for loading and unloading. This is to ensure that the machine is always filled with part for continuous production and not idling or waiting for parts. There are also possibilities that the finish part can be stacked in cage or drop box.
The higher the payload means a bigger robot arm would be required. When the arm gets too big, there is a minimum distance of limitation due to the kinetic movement, therefore small parts cannot be picked up. Hence, it is important to define the size of the product before the selection of the automatic bending cell. This will make it easier to select the type of press brake and robotic arm for the job.
With all the necessary functions that are in place to ensure the output quality of the parts, the production is all ready for artificial intelligence bending!
Bystronic is advancing into a new customer segment. The Xpress offers concentrated bending technology at an attractive price-level. Thanks to the newly developed press brake, even users without prior experience achieve professional results.
For many companies, a high-quality press brake is prohibitively expensive. Hence, small workshops and beginners often revert to second-hand machines or low-budget models. But the low purchase price is often offset by poor quality. Bystronic’s new entry-level model, on the other hand, is a much more sustainable investment. With its attractive price-performance ratio, the Xpress sets a new quality benchmark in the lower price segment.
With the Xpress, Bystronic’s innovative bending technology is now accessible to a new segment of customers. Small job shops, family businesses, and medium-sized enterprises no longer have to accept compromises in terms of quality. Entry-level users can rely on high-quality equipment. And for those companies whose core competencies previously did not include bending, the Xpress allows parts to be manufactured in-house instead of having to be subcontracted at high cost.
Simple operation, high precision
The intuitive operation of the Xpress enables a quick entry into bending technology. All the process steps on a single screen – this is the idea behind the ByVision Bending software. The 22-inch touch screen enables users to design parts with just a few swipes of the finger. The software provides valuable support for the programming of bending sequences. ByVision Bending determines the suitable tools and the ideal bending process for every material thickness and bending angle.
Precision is the most important performance benchmark of a press brake. Hence, the ByMotion drive control, a Bystronic in-house development, ensures that the upper beam and backgauges of the Xpress are accelerated with high precision. The press force required at any given time is distributed with high precision over the entire bending length, both when coining and when air bending. This ensures bending results with a high degree of repetition accuracy.
Modular design offers high degree of flexibility
The closed O-frame design of the Xpress guarantees high machine rigidity and offers sufficient space for applications along the entire bending length. In addition, the modular design ensures a high degree of flexibility. Different tool clamping and backgauge systems allow individual customization to adapt to the production environment. Compatibility with all other Bystronic bending systems makes it easy to expand production.
This makes the Xpress predestined for small businesses that want to grow. The versatile bending technology lays the foundation for a high quality standard upon which a successful business can be built. Bystronic’s comprehensive know-how and customer-oriented services make the Xpress a carefree package for future bending experts.