Press Example Search
Beckwood's Accu-Flex mixes electrical, hydraulic technologies
As Seen in FF Journal, March 2006
Mixing features of servo and hydraulic press technology make Jeff Debus an alchemist of sorts. Getting engineers from both fields to understand one another in the process just might make him a miracle worker.
Labels aside, what Debus and his team at Beckwood Press Co. have come up with is an inexpensive way for small to medium-sized shops to use the best of both technologies in a maintenance-friendly format. Debus, Beckwood's vice president, says that the idea was to take advantage of wide-spread servo-motion technology-particularly vector drives, or VFD's and combine it with hydraulic actuators in a package that is far less costly than a true servo-hydraulic press.
Servo-hydraulics are expensive,Debus says. Their maintenance costs, their up-front costs and their complexity are all high. In response to that cost-versus-need problem, Beckwood wanted to answer the question, How can we do this more effectively and more efficiently for our customers?
The answer was the Accu-Flex press. Beckwood offers the Accu-Flex in tonnages ranging from 15 tons to 150 tons. That sweet spot marks the range where a ball screw machine can't keep up with the tonnage and a true servo-hydraulic can't compete with the prices. We're a customer press builder, so if somebody comes in and says they want a 300-ton version, we'll take a look at it, Debus says. You start to get to a certain point where your power-drive costs put you into a place where the servo-hydraulic price starts to match. Then you would go to a more traditional route.
Accu-Flex users can choose between position control with force override or the inverse, depending on whether precision force or position is more important for the application at hand. The system uses an Allen-Bradley VersaView interface and is completely programmable: Force, approach speed, distance and dwell time all can be changed instantly. There's no parameter in the cycle that you cannot program, Debus says. In addition, the control system provides real-time trending that allows users to plot process variables, such as position or pressure, and observe how they interact. An operator can store those scenarios and download them via Ethernet either to a computer database or a printer. For industries with strict certification requirements, such as aerospace, those capabilities provide the kind of traceability a shop needs.
The system also has built-in go/no-go gauges that can be programmed to accept or reject parts based on certain parameters that a user knows are needed to produce a part correctly. For instance, Debus says, if you know you need 6 tons of pressure to insert a rod into a bushing 3 in., the system will reject parts if the machine happened to use, say, 5 tons or 7 tons. It's all programming, Debus says. If it deviates from what you told it to do, it'll tell you.
It's really easy to tweak and change; you can change it on the fly, he says. When you change parameters, the parameter curve will actually change dynamically to match what you programmed.
The Accu-Flex has been on the market for less than a year. The blend of technologies might be easy to use, but getting the right mix engineered properly wasn't exactly automatic. Beckwood essentially had to bring two disciplines together that don't necessarily intersect in the real world. "When we would say force control, the hydraulic guy completely understood; the servo guy had no idea what we were talking about, Debus recalls with a laugh. Because in servo-motion, you are dealing with velocity and torque. In hydraulics, you're dealing with pressure and flow. So we had to work to integrate and blend those two technologies together so that they understood what each one correlated to. At the end of the day, they were all looking at each other saying, We get it! We understand. This is great. All the lights were coming on."
The result is a press that is highly applicable for R&D, production and assembly, provided you don't need mechanical press speeds, and you're in that traditional hydraulic press speed application, Debus says.
For more information on this product line, please see Beckwood's article in the March 2006 edition of FF Journal by selecting this link (or contact us for a free issue).
Case History of Manufacturing Problem Solving
For The Boeing Company, a continual search for new technology has kept them thriving in the aerospace industry for almost 100 years. Through their many research facilities and manufacturing plants, they are able to stay ahead of the technology curve. Boeing Canada Technology in Winnipeg is an important composite manufacturing center for The Boeing Company, and the applied technology they develop is utilized to expand the horizons of worldwide flight. They have teamed up with the Beckwood Press Company to develop a customized press to reduce costs for their current product, and develop new parts for Boeing's cutting edge passenger plane technology.
Opening in 1971, Boeing Winnipeg began with 50 employees at their facility and has grown to be the largest aerospace composite manufacturer in Canada. The company has expanded to 940 employees with a manufacturing plant that covers roughly 600,000 square feet. Boeing Winnipeg designs, develops and fabricates complex composite structures and sub-assemblies for aerospace customers. They specialize in Wing to Body Fairings, Engine Strut Fairings, Thrust Reverser Blocker Doors as well as additional complex composites including Nacelle Chines, Landing Gear Doors and High Performance Ducts.
The Boeing Company is constantly developing new technologies to reduce cost and weight of their products. Often, the Winnipeg Division looks to replace components that were historically fabricated from metals, and substitutes them with cutting edge composites. In a recent application, Boeing Winnipeg needed a state of the art press to manufacture reinforced thermoplastic laminate (RTL) components. This was a new technology for this plant, and they needed a single responsible hydraulic press partner to work with the automation and integration of the production process. The flexibility of design was extremely important as we had to integrate a specialized, Winnipeg built, pre-heat oven with the press. We needed a Company that was willing to work with us on the integration with a tight timeline said Mark Shead, a leading Boeing Engineering Specialist.
This customized hydraulic press needed to be developed by a press manufacturer who would be flexible with their production, and work hand in hand with the Boeing Winnipeg engineers to integrate the product. They were looking for someone with experience in value engineered designs that would build a relationship with them while meeting their needs with reliability and durability.
Boeing found a press company who was application competent and able to work with their engineers to develop the project. Beckwood Press was chosen as they offered the best value and could meet our (Boeing Canada Technology Winnipeg) tight timelines. They were also willing to integrate the press and control system with the custom pre-heat processing oven that was being built here, said Shead.
The confluence of this relationship was a 230 ton capacity hydraulic press that utilizes an up-acting design with a highly precise 32 x 44 heated platens. Beckwood was able to combine a variety of engineering specifications from their experiences with different types of applications to create a press with a high level of control over position and speed. Hydraulic presses have evolved over the years and have made great advancements in controls and flexibility says Jeffrey Debus, Vice President of Beckwood Press Company. We utilize our own standard and proven designs from our vast experiences in a multitude of industries, to tailor the perfect press for each customer. Boeing was an interesting project for us, as it required many different performance criteria that we satisfied through previous systems that have been proven out over the years.
Feedback for the aforementioned position and speed is controlled through independent zones with linear and pressure transducers that work with an Allen Bradley control system for critical precision. The speed is variable throughout the stroke and the press is equipped for a variable dwell under pressure. Beckwood integrated the compression molding press with a pre heat oven and shuttle mechanism that moves the piece seamlessly through the press. The parts are heated with tight temperature control and a precision heated platen with a maximum heating temperature of 450o. The press was efficiently engineered with a 22 stroke and remote power.
The new press is currently being utilized for the fabrication of Boeing 737 and 777 slat track flex tabs, but the potential for future applications is where the excitement begins. This new manufacturing process will be expanding to larger and more complex applications over time.
RTL applications include flight hardware on the new 787, which will have almost 40% more composite materials than the 777. Lighter and faster than traditional planes, this new aircraft will have unsurpassed fuel economy for a cleaner environment. According to Boeing, the plane will have 20% more fuel efficiency and 20% fewer emissions than similar sized planes. The top speed of this airplane is the fastest in its class (.85 mach) and it can travel 8500 miles from point to point. The plane is designed with the passenger in mind, as the windows and cargo area have been expanded, and it has the potential to enable live e-mail and Internet for every passenger. Boeing has already accepted proposals from 20 airlines and expects to demand for this type of airplane to be over 3,500 units over the next 20 years. Major production of the new 787 airplane begins in 2006, first flight is scheduled for 2007, and the first delivery will be in 2008.
Through the entire process, the project has run smoothly and Boeing has been satisfied with the end product. Beckwood rigorously tests their equipment, and after putting the press in production, Boeing was able to accomplish their goals and they have had their expectations exceeded. The staff at Beckwood were very quick to respond (with the project) as our requirements and needs changed during the program. The most impressive aspect of the press is its reliability. It has been in production for over a year and we have had no break downs, said Shead.
Beckwood Press Company is a leading hydraulic press manufacturer located in St. Louis, MO. They utilize standard hydraulic press designs that are tailored to their customer's specific applications. Beckwood manufactures presses for a multitude of industries, from 2-2000+ tons, and they specialize in creating cost effective solutions for unique applications. Boeing and Beckwood forged a partnership for this project and were able to construct an innovative compression molding hydraulic press for the application.
For more information on this Case History, see Beckwood's article in the November 2005 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine by selecting this link (or contact Beckwood for a free issue).
Smaller footprint, exact capabilities, no wasted investment
As Seen in FF Journal, March 2007
Customized hydraulic presses have been dancing around the fabricating industry for many years. Tailored to specific needs, the features and options of each press are chosen by the user to perform a specific application such as blanking, coining, compression molding, forming, punching or stamping.
Each customer becomes part of the design team, working with the machine tool builder to incorporate the speeds, bed size, tonnage, stroke and any specialty options to best meet production goals.
Choosing hydraulics over mechanical operations provides the additional benefits of minimizing the footprint and reducing the overall investment. Hydraulics allow the generation of high forces in a compact area, reducing the overall structure and mechanism required for support of the force actuators. A mechanical press of the same tonnage is a larger machine requiring significantly more space and upping the initial investment.
The number and variety of custom-designed hydraulic presses available at any given time is virtually limitless. Each machine is the product of a fresh design, making the most recent machine shipped from the manufacturer virtually the newest model.
In some cases, the customer brings more to the design table than his forming requirements. Acuity Brands Lighting's Indiana production facility, for example, worked with Beckwood Press Co. to integrate press bed rollers to minimize die setup time for its latest press.
Acuity, the world's largest manufacturer of lighting fixtures, has 24 manufacturing facilities throughout North America and Europe. Products include indoor and outdoor lighting for commercial, institutional, industrial, infrastructure and residential applications. Architects, contractors, energy service companies and maintenance personnel alike are familiar with Acuity brands that include Lithonia Lighting, Hydrel, Peerless, MetalOptics and Carandini.
Corporate-wide emphasis at Acuity continually focuses on creating a leaner, more effective organization to support efficient production and new product development. Part of that focus is to make machine purchases and initiate processes that increase capacity without increasing headcount. In 2006, the companyÃs efforts were rewarded with a 12 percent increase in customer orders.
Production of reflectors that are incorporated into a myriad of Acuity lighting fixtures is done at all the Crawfordsville, Ind., facility. Anodizing, spinning, buffing, punching and hydroforming processes pump out a broad variety of the aluminum components. For many of the reflector designs, material moves from metal spinning operations to hydraulic presses, many of them custom, that punch sockets and side holes in the down-lighting pieces.
Progressive and lean
One of the lean initiative goals in the town of Crawfordsville facility is to reduce the setup time by 25 percent. Currently, dedicated setup people handle the die changeovers. A typical changeover takes from 10 min. to 20 min.; the goal is 12 min. to 15 min. With continuous adjustments and improvement, they expect to meet this goal before the end of 2009.
Ronald Knight, product manager at Acuity's Crawfordsville plant, explains that 15 of the company's newest presses have been fitted with computerized "smart die systems" to reduce die changeover time. The smart die systems stores job parameters for each die. Precise pressure and position, including pressure-holding, speed-control dynamic adjustments to real-time operating variances, can be controlled.
"We are currently running 200 to 300 dies," says Knight, "some of which run one to two orders. Quick die change is very important to our production process."
New machine tool purchases must fit into Acuity's lean equation, which is where working with customized hydraulic presses comes into play. Acuity defines the machine requirements for the specific application and includes its own ideas to improve the production process.
Newest is best
Features of the newest Beckwood press include a 35-ton capacity, a 30-in. press stroke and 36-in.-by 36-in. bolsters. Optimum speeds for the application were determined to be 440 ipm on approach, 36 ipm for press and 44 ipm for return.
Several design elements work toward time- and labor- saving goals. Bed rollers provided by Acuity were integrated into the design to assist with quick die change. A new safety light curtain incorporating a four-corner mirror system eliminates the guards with safety interlocks, increasing productivity while still safeguarding operators.
"We asked Beckwood for a larger control transformer for integration with our smart die system," Knight explains. "We had them change the swing-out pedestal to give the operator a little more usability. Operators love the quick die change and the light curtain. The setup men love this press."
Acuity also came up with an idea to add a bed bolster extension to retain clamping ability. Beckwood engineered a system to meet this request using Finite Element Analysis design testing to ensure structural integrity.
Acuity's presses have varying levels of customization and sophistication. Some applications may share the same requirements for speeds, bed size, tonnage stroke and other features, but they may vary depending on the system and product needs. The idea behind the customization is to provide the optimum system for each application at the right price.
Knight has seen value in investing in custom presses. "The benefits to customization are not buying what we don't need," he says. "With our last press purchase we didn't need the standard 100-ton press. We needed a 35-ton press with a 30-in. stroke and larger bed size. Why waste money on extra options or a higher capacity press?"
For more information on this process, please see Beckwood's article in the March 2007 edition of FF Journal (or contact us for a free issue).
The ability of a press to handle off-center loading allows a manufacturer to load three dies onto one press bed and run the three stations independently or in tandem. One press, three dies, and no die changes.
As Seen in Metalforming Magazine, April 2007
Why invest in three low-tonnage presses, for three separate dies, or deal with time-consuming non-productive die changes, when you can purchase on large press to hold all three dies? That was precisely the reasoning at Hutchinson/Mayrath/TerraTrack, Clay Center, KS, late in 2005 as it sought to replace an aging and rather beat-up press.
The firm manufactures grain and material-handling equipment, including conveyors, unloading equipment and augers. Portable grain augers, in 20 models, are a key market for the manufacturer, and it boasts of the durability of the machines, in part due to their sturdy welded undercarriage.
Undercarriage assemblies are of welded tubular-steel construction. To feed welding booths with fabricated tube sections, Hutchinson/Mayrath/ TerraTrack employs a metalforming press to cut tubes, of hot-rolled steel, to length and crimp the tube ends. This tube-end preparation optimizes weld-joint design, improves fitup and, ultimately, maximizes joint strength.
The firm fabricates three diameters of tube 2 7/8-in. OD by 10-gauge wall thickness; 2 3/8-in. OD by 10-gauge wall; and 1.9-in. OD by 11-gauge wall. Each tube size calls for its own forming die to cut to length and end-crimp. To avoid die changes and still use only one press, off-center loading couldn't be avoided.
"We run the die for the largest OD tube in the middle of the press and then run the other two dies off center," explains industrial engineer Scott Rickley. "On our old mechanical press, which we converted over to hydraulic more than 20 years ago, this off-center loading took its toll. The press bed would twist and the ram would come down out of level, which ultimately destroyed the press. It also took a toll on our tooling, and made it difficult to keep up with production."
Designed for Off-Center Loading
When the old press became too war-torn for use, Hutchinson/Mayrath/TerraTrack turned to hydraulic-press builder Beckwood Press Co., St. Louis, MO, to design a new press specifically designed to balance the hydraulic system for multiple load requirements. The new 80-ton press, delivered in June 2006, can handle die requirements of 80 tons of force at its centerline, and 48 tons 21.5 in. to the right and left of press center. Each station can be operated independently of one another, or in tandem. The press has a 36-by-72-in. bolster, a 12-in. stroke and an automatic ram-slide lubrication system. Ram speeds: 115 in./min. approach, 24 in./min pressing and 120-in./min return.
"We fed tube in lengths of 20 to 40 ft. through the press by hand, manually setting stops to shear to length anywhere from 7 to 16 ft.," says Rickely. "In one hit in the die, we shear and crimp the end the ability of the hydraulic press to control forming speed provides the precise amount of tube-end deformation we need to optimize weld fitup and quality." Order size ranges from just a few pieces to as many as 20 parts.
Moving from the old press to new required only a routine sharpening of the tooling. With the poor ability of the old press to handle off-center loading, the firm had to pull the dies every three months, Rickley recalls, for resharpening.
"Since we took delivery of the new press," Rickley says, "we have yet to pull the dies for maintenance."
Beckwood Press Company recently interviewed Scott Rickley, an Industrial Engineer at Hutchinson/Mayrath/Terra Track in Clay Center Kansas, for an article with MetalForming Magazine. Rickley provided insight on his company, and how Beckwood was able to help him with his dedicated off-center loading application.
BW: What are the products and markets served by your plant? What is the process, and who are your customers?
SR: "We use the (Beckwood) Press to shear and flatten round tubing in preparation to be used in a weldment. The press performs the entire operation of preparing the tubing for the weldment. The end product is the undercarriage for our portable augers, which is vital for the safety of the auger and its operators. Parts must be of good quality or serious safety issues could arise.
Our primary product is grain handling equipment in an agricultural application. Our primary end users are farms and large grain storage facilities. Our product is distributed through a dealer/distributor network."
BW: What solutions did Beckwood solve by engineering this press system to your specific requirements?
SR: "Beckwood's design allowed us to load three different dies into the press at one time. We were doing this in the past with our old press, however, it was not designed for that application and when we used the dies that were off-center, the ram would come down out of level.
By designing a press with off-center loading capabilities Beckwood made it possible to load all three of the dies at one time and the press would compensate pressure to keep the ram level no matter which die we used."
BW: Did the sales engineers answer all of your questions and make things as smooth as possible for your company?
SR: "Beckwood made the entire process very easy, from initial ordering to final approval and training, right up through delivery."
BW: What example, in particular, have you been most satisfied with your Beckwood Press?
SR: "The press is very maintenance friendly with its automatic lubrication system. By not having to change dies on this press, our set-up times have basically become zero."
For more information on this testimonial, please see Beckwood's article in the April 2007 edition of Metalforming Magazine by selecting this link (or contact us for a free issue).
Metalworking equipment suppliers keep up with the times by offering more flexibility and quick changeover.
As Seen in Appliance Magazine, February 2007
Michael W. Riehn, director of marketing at The Beckwood Corporation (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.), sees significant advantages in the advancement and integration of electrical and hydraulic control technologies. Capitalizing on the inherent benefits of hydraulic presses (speed, force and position control) has proven to add considerable cost savings by decreasing setup time and minimizing scrap material costs in the way of bad parts, he says. Up-front costs associated with programmable control systems that include job storage and recipe handling have continued to be more attractive. The costs of adding these control features to new presses at the time of order can often be recouped in as little as 4 to 6 months. The hydraulic flexibility provided by these controls can be used to further increase the presses ability to quickly make good quality parts immediately after die set-up. Being able to quickly dial in speed, force and position variables to compensate for material inconsistencies saves set-up costs in terms of labor as well as material.
For more information on this testimonial, please see Beckwood's article in the February 2007 edition of Appliance Magazine (or contact us for a free issue).
"I am pleasantly surprised with your inquiry related to my recent dealings with Beckwood's service department. Your company's assistance goes over well in my arena. We rarely receive that kind of support from OEM's. Your staff was most helpful, even with the back-to-back phone calls and requests for next-day parts."
- Mark Bohn, Bohn's Sales & Service, Inc.
"We had [Beckwood] give the operators a little more usability. Operators love the quick die change and light curtain. The setup men love this press."
- Ron Knight, Acuity Brands Lighting
"Beckwood Press was chosen as they offered the best value and could meet our tight timelines. They were also willing to integrate the press and control system with the custom pre-heat processing oven that was being built here."
- Mark Shead, Boeing
"The benefits to customization are not buying what we don't need. With our last press purchase we didn't need the standard 100-ton press. We needed a 35-ton press with a 30 in. stroke and larger bed size. Why waste money on extra options or a higher capacity press?"
- Ron Knight, Acuity Brands Lighting
"On our mechanical press...off-center loading took its toll. The press bed would twist and the ram would come down out of level, which ultimately destroyed the press. It also took a toll on our tooling, and made it difficult to keep up with production. Since we took delivery of the new [Beckwood] press, we have yet to pull the dies for maintenance."
- Scott Rickley, Hutchinson/Mayrath/TerraTrack
"Everything arrived in perfect condition. It has been an absolute pleasure dealing with the Beckwood Press Company. All of my conversations, whether by phone or e-mail, were dealt with promptly and accurately. Customer service is everything when dealing over the phone and internet. I would give your company a "10"."
-Michael R. Vetter, Weasler Engineering Inc.