August 8, 2007
Metalforming machinery is never purchased – it's an investment. And as with any investment, the ultimate objective is to maximize your return.
In an ever-changing manufacturing environment, flexibility has emerged as the leading attribute toward optimizing capital investments.
"Whether you operate a job shop or are doing in-house stamping, the ability to have flexible manufacturing capabilities is critical," said Jim Schulte, sales manager at The Minster Machine Company. "Processes are constantly changing, and the competition for new business is fierce. Manufacturers have to be in position to retain existing business and go after new orders now, not six months from now."
"A mechanical press flexible enough to adapt itself to multiple applications certainly adds values," said Minster's Senior Design Engineer Nate Wenning. "At Minster we accomplish this flexibility by designing equipment with enough rigidity and standard features to handle a wide range of applications, and by offering specific options designed to increase capabilities."
Minster offers its patented Infinitely Adjustable Stroke on three different press series. The stroke adjustment feature allows an infinite range of adjustments between a short and long stroke at the touch of a button.
Choosing the optimum stroke length for a particular die and application allows the user to take advantage of high production speeds, reduced punch forming velocity and lower impact forces, which result in reduced vibration levels, longer tool life and more consistent parts.
"Versatility during production is also important," Wenning added. "Minster's Quicklift Mechanism allows an operator to raise the slide, allowing access to the die area when the press is in a closed position without cycling the press or the feed.
"If you jam the die on bottom dead center of the stroke, you do not need hydraulic tie rod nuts to release the jam. The access is enough to release material in a misfeed or change punches if one is broken. Once the error is corrected by pushing the button on the control, the slide returns to its original set shutheight to restart production."
Another factor in determining the long-range payoff of material forming equipment is reliability.
"You just have to have reliable equipment to stay ahead of the game," Schulte said. "It's really quite simple, you don't make money when your press isn't running. You can't provide on-time deliveries to your customers if your press isn't running."
Reliability is not only measured by the quality design and construction of a machine, but also by the ability to get timely service and replacement parts.
"Service is often overlooked when making an investment," Schulte added. "Some see a quicker return on a used or less expensive piece of equipment, but that low price quickly inflates when spare parts and reliable service is hard to come by."
Productivity is another important piece to the investment puzzle. Advances in technology and productivity go hand-in-hand.
"It's part of the big picture," Wenning said. "Modern user-friendly press controls not only provide
valuable production monitoring, but also facilitate the ability to integrate entire coil lines for quick tooling changeover."
Available technologies have turned production runs requiring two people, eight hours to complete into production runs requiring one person, six hours to complete.
"Training and labor are just a few more of the costs that a lot of people don't even consider when comparing the initial expense of capital equipment," Schulte said.
While many of the costs and benefits of a machine tool investment are "hidden," there is one very obvious indicator of capital gains – resale value.
"If you purchase a high quality machine and maintain it properly, there will be little or no depreciation in its value," Schulte said. "It's not unusual at all for a used Minster press to be sold for more than it was paid for new. And when you consider 20 or 30 years' worth of profitable production, it turns out that you ended up making a very good investment."