A giant among machines

Structural steel fabricator installs 40-ft.-long press brake

The FABRICATOR October 2009
October 8, 2009
By: Michael Bishop

Greiner specializes in structural steel and heavy plate fabrication. It does work for power plants and the mining industry. In the 33 years the company has been in business, it has done structural steel jobs in an industry where the work always seems to be getting larger and heavier. It recently installed a 40-ft.-long press brake that weighs more than 800,000 lbs.

bending pressbrake greiner

The idea of ordering a 40-foot-long press brake was no problem for Greiner Industries, Mount Joy, Pa. The real work started when the brake was ready for delivery. The company had to find a way to get the mammoth machine to its shop.

The machine, a 2,750-ton Baykal press brake, ordered through Fab-Line Machinery, St. Charles, Ill., had to be transported to the facility in four pieces: two side frames that weighed 88,000 pounds each, as well as a ram and a bed that each weighed 190,000 lbs. Transportation required a truck with 16 axles under each trailer. Each axle had four tires, so the trailer had 64 tires total.

Greiner specializes in structural steel and heavy plate fabrication. It does work for power plants and the mining industry. In the 33 years the company has been in business, it has done structural steel jobs in an industry where the work always seems to be getting larger and heavier. This installation had to set a new standard, however. The assembled press brake weighs more than 800,000 lbs.

"In our shop we do very large, very heavy structural and plate fabrication," owner Frank Greiner said. "So this helps us form heavy and longer plate."

Laying the Foundation

In some ways, the company was ready for the press brake. It already had overhead cranes to move heavy plates. But a lot of foundation work was required to get the building ready.

"The actual foundation is 20 ft. deep, and the concrete is up to 6 ft. thick in certain areas, said Jim Gillespie, manager of business development. "It needed major amounts of reinforcing rod inside that concrete."

Once the press brake was in the brand-new building with a 40-ft.-high roof, Greiner had to use two of its mobile cranes to help put it together. That the facility was finished before the installation actually made the project more difficult. Usually when a shop installs this type of equipment, the roof isn't there, said Gillespie. The equipment is installed before the building is finished. But Greiner had to have the building completed before the equipment arrived.

"That became a major challenge because of the way mobile cranes work; they have to have their outriggers out and you have to be able to get the boom up to a certain height to lift properly," Gillespie said.

Operating the Machine

The biggest difference between this press brake and smaller models is the heavy overhead cranes and lifting devices that are required, Greiner said. Operators don't need any special requirements to run a brake this big. A lot of devices are built into the machine to help simplify use. For example, operators program material thickness, length, and type. If they program the type of material incorrectly, the machine may use much more tonnage to bend than required and, because of a built-in safety feature, automatically stops. The press brake also has built-in sensitivity—any movement within the structure prompts an on-screen indication that the operator may be running the machine incorrectly.

The press brake can 90-degree bend a 1-inch thick Grade 50 steel plate 40 ft. long, helping to eliminate seams and splices. It bends very high-tensile-strength steel, including armor plate. The thickness that it can bend is determined by the punch and die setup for each job. The machine can bend sheets up to 2 in. thick without doing any calculations, but anything thicker than 2 in. needs to be calculated with the manufacturer to ensure the machine won't be damaged.

"The operators have to calculate the tonnage on the punch or they can destroy the punch," Greiner said.

Integrating Capabilities

On its other bending equipment, Greiner can cold-roll plate up to 4 in. thick, structural beams up to 40 in. tall, and square tubing and pipe up to 20 in. in diameter. The company, which offers custom rolling and forming as a stand-alone service, houses all of its bending equipment in the new 40,000-square-foot building. This makes up the company's Rolling and Forming Division.

The press brake has opened up new opportunities for the company, especially because of the capability to bend high-tensile-strength steel and armor plate.

"Having this equipment allows us to get involved in projects we would never have been aware of before," Gillespie said.

Greiner also recently installed a plate processing system with a 160-ft.-long by 16-ft. 8-in. bed. The system cuts with plasma or oxyfuel; drills, taps, and countersinks holes; surface mills; and contour bevels. It provides yet another service that the company can perform on steel plates before the material is bent.

"So we can do the whole process for the customer," Greiner said.

Greiner Industries' recent equipment purchases are helping make it a one-stop shop for customers, which for any steel fabricator is a big accomplishment. But not quite as big as the company's new press brake.

Michael Bishop

Michael Bishop

Contributing Writer

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The FABRICATOR is North America's leading magazine for the metal forming and fabricating industry. The magazine delivers the news, technical articles, and case histories that enable fabricators to do their jobs more efficiently. The FABRICATOR has served the industry since 1971.

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