Baled out

Stamper's autoloading scrap conveyor system maximizes ROI, productivity

STAMPING Journal July 2006
July 11, 2006

With growth coming fast and future expansions likely, this Tier 1 auto supplier replaced its capacity-limited scrap baling system with an autoloading conveyor system to maximize ROI and productivity.

Figure 1
The stationary incline conveyor located in the load-out center discharges its load into a shuttle conveyor that automatically fills one of the two truck trailers located in the bays below.

Jefferson Industries Corporation (JIC) in West Jefferson, Ohio, broke ground for its stamping and welding facility in 1988 and became operational in 1989 to support Honda of America in Marysville, Ohio.

JIC produces dashboard components, pillars, stiffeners, wheel houses, and floor frames for the Honda Accord®, Civic®, Element®, and Acura® models. Part quality, responsive performance, and continuous improvement programs have led to the stamper's exceptional growth and a continued partnership with the automaker.

The resulting expansions and additional stamping presses helped the supplier to keep pace with its widening requirements. However, JIC faced two major concerns that limited future expansion.

Drowning in Scrap

The stamper's old scrap baling system layout and conveyor system blocked access to open land behind the plant, and its scrap baler system was overstressed.

JIC team members investigated its scrap handling options and contacted Mayfran International for assistance. As a result, discharge systems were relocated to allow for future expansion, and the scrap baler was eliminated. More important, a plan was developed to keep the plant functioning at normal capacity and scrap flowing during the changes.

"Maintaining production schedules is a critical element to our company's success," said Hassan Saadat, vice president, JIC. "Our parts are shipped on a just-in-time [JIT] basis, and most components go from the receiving docks to assembly points. Reliable deliveries are at the heart of our operation, and an original concept for handling scrap was needed. When we contacted Mayfran, our old baling system was struggling at its maximum capacity, and we knew that any equipment failures or increased production could bring the whole operation to a halt."

The baler was operating 24 hours per day, five days a week, and at nearly 90 percent of its volume capacity ... just to keep up. "We currently process more than 6,613 tons of coil stock on a monthly average," Saadat said. "Of that amount, approximately 2,204 tons are turned out as scrap and trim pieces. When we first installed the baler, besides being able to handle the capacity at the time, the baled scrap generally brought a higher price from salvage companies."

Figure 2
The diverter chutes that fill the truck trailers are located under the shuttle conveyor and can be seen through the floor grating.

Taking Control

To process high scrap volumes and provide adequate handling capacity for future expansions, the stamper bypassed the baling operation in favor of an outbuilding that acts as a load-out center. JIC was able to negotiate a rate for the loose scrap that was comparable to the baled scrap, and saved nearly $1 million it would have cost to expand the baling system.

The baler was originally installed at the rear of the facility, where the only land remaining for future building expansions could be planned. Therefore, the baler had to be relocated no matter what decision had been made regarding the scrap handling system.

In contrast, the new load-out center is on the side of the facility, where it doesn't interfere with future expansions. The building has two truck bays for scrap trailers, and scrap from individual presses is fed to one of three below-floor conveyors. The conveyors feed a single-line main conveyor that carries the scrap underground and outside of the main facility to the load-out center (see Figure 1).

From the main incline conveyor, scrap is discharged onto a shuttle conveyor and into two diverter chutes (see Figure 2). To fill a truck trailer, the system's control detects if a trailer is in place and directs scrap to one of the two diverter chutes. The system automatically moves the shuttle conveyor gradually over the length of the trailer. Sensors monitor scrap height and weight, and when a preset limit is reached, it signals the control that the current loading area of the trailer is full. Once the trailer is full, the control system automatically detects if the opposite trailer is in place and diverts scrap to that trailer. The filled trailer is removed and quickly replaced by an empty unit while the second trailer is being loaded, providing uninterrupted scrap removal.

The discharge system delivers 50,000 pounds of scrap material, a full trailer load, on average every three hours. "Being a JIT feeder facility to automakers means inventory levels and schedules are critical," said Robert Pierce, manager, facility engineering, at JIC. "We couldn't afford the luxury of lengthy downtimes for installations, trial runs plus modifications, adjustments, and debugging."

Figure 3
The 36-in.-wide by 291-foot-long main conveyor runs below floor level inside the stamping facility, then outside to the load-out building.

Uninterrupted Integration

To accomplish the installation with no interruptions to the stamping facilities, Mayfran and JIC worked out a series of five procedural phases to keep the plant up and running.

During Phase I, which ran from April through May 2005, the stamper installed a 36-inch-wide by 23-foot-long shuttle conveyor (see Figure 3) and the dual, two-way, motorized diverter/discharge chutes in the load-out building. The main conveyor, 36 in. wide by 291 ft., runs below floor level inside the stamping facility, then outside to the load-out building and connects to the shuttle conveyor. The complete electrical control system, along with testing of the new equipment and control functions, also occurred during this phase.

Phase II took place over the long Memorial Day weekend when the production facility was closed. This stage involved extending the main conveyor to handle scrap from the first three collector conveyors, plus the other collector conveyors. In addition, these branch conveyors (seeFigure 4) were linked to the new control grid installed during Phase I. Once again, testing of the newly installed pieces plus retesting of the main artery and controls were performed.

Phase III, performed near the end of June, dealt with the relocation of an existing conveyor that would serve a second press line in the plant. The process required removing the head frame, tail frame, and drive and belt; extending the length of the conveyor; installing new head and tail frames; and setting up the conveyor to run in the opposite direction of its previous operation. This unit also was tied into the main control grid and tested.

Figure 4
A branch conveyor carries scrap from stamping presses and deposits it into the main conveyor that feeds scrap underground to the load-out center.

Phase IV then took place over the July Fourth holiday shutdown period, and it required extensive work. Included was the modification of a second, existing conveyor with new frames and belting. It was tied into the conveyor previously modified in Phase III. Additional projects during this time involved reinstalling the conveyor earlier removed and stored (Phase I), making it a new branch conveyor joined to the main line, along with linking the new branch conveyors to the control grid and further testing. Mayfran also modified and adapted the existing discharge chutes of the individual press to ensure smooth scrap flow to the branch conveyors.

With the system installation finalized and up and running, only Phase V remained—the demolition of the baler house and removal of the old equipment, which were completed in September.

"The new scrap handling system saved investment dollars and has given us the ability to proceed with a 50,000-square-foot expansion," Pierce said. "We now have room to double our size as our growth continues."

"From a maintenance standpoint, the load-out system is ideal ... our downtime for preventive maintenance as well as repair work has been reduced drastically," said Larry Nutt, manager-press maintenance and special projects for JIC. "Also, though controlled via a central unit, each conveyor has its own operational control panel that makes working on the individual devices below the floor easier and safer for maintenance technicians."

The high performance rating of the load-out system is unanimous, even from one of JIC's scrap dealers. Beyond the words of praise, however, are basic facts. One, the load-out system has the capacity to handle current scrap volumes; two, it can be readily expanded to accommodate future capacity increases; and three, it gives the stamper the ability to expand the facility to accommodate its market growth.

Jefferson Industries Corp., 6670 State Route 29, West Jefferson, OH 43162-9677, 614-879-5300, fax 614-879-6805,

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STAMPING Journal is the only industrial publication dedicated solely to serving the needs of the metal stamping market. In 1987 the American Metal Stamping Association broadened its horizons and renamed itself and its publication, known then as Metal Stamping.

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