A need for speed

Dana Corp. increases capacity with three automated hydraulic press lines

STAMPING Journal December 2005
December 13, 2005

Currently, Dana's Chatham, Ontario division produces several heat shields for fluid-management systems including heat exchangers, valves, and coolers. With higher demand yields and new orders, the stamper needed an automated press line that could improve uptime, quality, and reliability.

Located in 28 countries, Dana Corporation, Toledo, Ohio, is a supplier of axles, driveshafts, engines, frames, chassis, and transmissions. The automotive supplier, which delivers to major car manufacturers around the world, reported 2004 sales of $9.1 billion.

Currently Dana's Chatham, Ontario, plant produces several heat shields for thermal and acoustic management of exhaust manifolds, catalytic converters, and turbochargers. With higher part demand and new orders, the stamper needed to invest in hydraulic press lines to improve uptime, quality, and reliability.

Automated Hydraulic Press Lines

After speaking with several suppliers, the stamper selected AP&T for presses and automation. "This supplier offered . . . an integrated system engineered and designed to function as a single system," said Jim Westover, project manager, Dana Corp.

The first automated production line was installed in October 2004. The line consists of six AP&T ZL hydraulic presses, aligned in tandem, from 100 to 200 tons with a bed size of 59 inch by 39 in.

Parts are transferred through the line with a Monobar MB80 two-axis, servo-driven sidebar feeder. In fully automatic mode, the feeder feeds a coil into the first press and cuts it to the desired shape to form the heat shield's outer shell.

The outer shell is transferred to the second press, where a second and third coil reel dispenses the isolation filler material and the inner shell. In the third press, the inner, outer, and filler are folded together, and filler material is inserted between the two metal halves. The fourth press layers the detail together with the fifth and final press, providing the final shape using deep-drawing technology.

Figure 1
Operators now have a computerized system that offers full control over press speed, position, tonnage, and automation.

More Line Control

A freely programmable MC32 Windows®-based control system was installed so the operator has full control over press speed, position, tonnage, and automation (see Figure 1). This control panel allows a single operator to control the entire line from one position rather than spending time going to several locations, as was the case with the company's previous lines.

The system also incorporates administrative functions such as statistics, backup, and recipe management, which reduce the stamper's labor costs during changeovers and new part setup.

Simplified Tool Changeovers

Dana's line has a fully automatic tool change system that reduces die changeover times (see Figure 2). Previous systems required the operators to manually move dies weighing as much as 5,400 pounds into position on roller tables. This always was an ergonomic issue for Dana that the automated system has resolved.

Figure 2
A fully automatic tool change system reduces die changeover times.

The manufacturer currently averages 115 minutes per product changeover, which is approximately 22 minutes faster than on its previous line. The stamper makes about 15 changeovers per month, which results in an additional 330 minutes of uptime each month. "We expect these changes will improve as the operators become more familiar with the system," said Westover.

The process begins by initiating the tool change sequence in the operator panel. Each die is removed and transferred onto a roller cart for unloading. "This tool change system is the quickest and least physical system we have," said Westover. "It's particularly nice having the computer sequence the functions to ensure nothing is missed and everything is performed in the most logical order," he said.

Room to Grow

The line currently is running two full shifts and about 20 overtime hours each week. The manufacturer is planning to run three shifts by August 2006 and four shifts by the end of 2006.

To meet future production demands, the stamper will run seven parts and move two of them to a second line. The two parts will be fed by the robot directly into a weld/rivet cell located at the end of line six that integrates the shield with a gasket. The remaining five parts amount to about 739,000 pieces per year, and Dana is planning to then add three parts to the line in 2006 for a total additional annualized production of 245,000 pieces. A third press line will be up and running by January 2006.

Dana Corporation, 1010 Richmond St., Chatham, ON N7M 5J5, 519-351-1221, fax 519-351-0938, www.dana.com

AP&T North America Inc., 4817 Persimmon Court, Monroe, NC 28110, 704-292-2900, fax 704-292-2906, info@apt-usa.com, www.apt.se

Photos courtesy of AP&T; Ron Smith Photography.

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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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