How to make the most of a press move

STAMPING Journal June 2009
June 9, 2009
By: Steve Richardson

In today's economy, machinery moves are on the rise. The success ofa machinery move project will be determined by the effectivemanagement of five key stages: planning, dismantling, servicing,5transportation, and installation. Do not overlook the relocationprocess as an opportunity to inspect, repair, and make modificationsto enhance the press system.

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The success of a machinery move project will be determined by the management of five key stages: planning, dismantling, servicing, transporting, and installing.

In today's economy, machinery moves are on the rise. The impact of the recession on manufacturing forces stamping companies to do a number of things to be cost-competitive.

Presses may be moved around a plant for a more efficient layout that matches new or lower production demands or to meet lean manufacturing goals to create more space without a facility expansion.

In addition, many multiplant companies are consolidating facilities—some offshore. The U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) has been projected to decrease in 2009 by 2.7 percent. China and India, on the other hand, are expected to grow 6.5 and 5 percent, respectively.

The success of a machinery move project will be determined by the management of five key stages: planning, dismantling, servicing, transporting, and installing.

Because several unforeseen obstacles may be encountered during the relocation of the equipment, having a single source to coordinate all stages is advantageous. Some approaches save time and money whether you are moving machinery across the production floor or across the globe.


You may not always have a lot of time available for effective planning. An understanding of the planning stage ahead of the move will help make you aware of the money- and time-saving opportunities.

If you are the project manager, you need to know the dimensions of the doors, floors, and ceiling height, as well as the equipment's weight and cube size (the dimensions of the equipment as it will load onto the trucks, including any cribbing, containers, or other packing material) for the physical move (see Figure 1). Some questions you should ask are:

  • Are the doors large enough to allow the assembled press through, or does it have to be disassembled before it exits or enters?
  • Will the floors hold the weight of the equipment being moved and the rigging equipment, or do they require that steel decking be put down to distribute the load?
  • Are there any pits, wiring ways, or other openings in the floor that have to be bridged?
  • Is there enough headroom to get the rigging equipment around the press or to remove components?
  • What are the weights of all the pieces of equipment? Knowing this ensures that the appropriate rigging and transport equipment will be specified.

Knowing the cube size for each piece of equipment or component is very important for scheduling trailers and load counts. Not knowing accurate cube sizes can add thousands of dollars and delays to a relocation.

Other considerations include production requirements of the surrounding equipment, permits, floor layouts, and a plan for hazardous waste material disposal. If the shipping or receiving plant is running production that cannot be halted for the move, the move may need to be scheduled during off shifts or weekends.

It is advantageous to make changes to the equipment when it is apart. Now is the time to consider which upgrades you can make during that time. Information such as electrical diagrams, mechanical drawings with weights and dimensions, and foundation specifications can help preserve the quality and accuracy of the equipment and is useful in the other stages of the move.


Having someone with equipment expertise and knowledge of the manufacturing processes and assembly techniques can speed up the dismantling. It is vital to have a qualified serviceperson on-site during the dismantling to ensure that the press system is dismantled, tagged, and marked correctly for reinstallation. A general plan for preparing equipment for dismantling is to have the service technician arrive two to three days before the rigging crew to perform an inspection and document all worn or damaged parts (see Figure 2).

Often, to avoid damage, the press must be in a specific operation position for transporting. You must remove or unhook power and air connections. All components that have to be removed by the riggers must be loosened. You should verify that all wires have been labeled and bagged. Mark broken conduit for repair. If these tasks have been completed when the rigger arrives, the equipment can be removed immediately, saving time and money.

Having a qualified source manage your project can get you over many of the hurdles that loom behind machinery moves. The proper amount of insurance coverage (vendor and owner insurance) is one consideration. The rule of thumb is the coverage should be 110 percent of the value of the machinery.

International shipments must have the correct manifest—down to the trailer numbers—to ensure that the customs inspectors have a clear understanding of the equipment on each truck. Overseas shipments can be a nightmare if the equipment is not packaged correctly. To avoid lengthy and expensive repairs during the final installation, it is recommended that all machinery be full-case packed, with a vapor barrier, for maximum protection. Thorough and complete documentation is an absolute necessity for overseas shipments to comply with U.S. export regulations and to avoid problems with customs and duty fees in the destination country.

The physical parameters of the machinery and the facility are major factors. It is generally most cost-effective to ship a press fully assembled whenever possible, not only to avoid the expense of teardown and reassembly, but also to avoid the chance of damaging something. Shipping one piece typically is cheaper than several.

Before initiating the move, you need a complete understanding of any physical restrictions in the facility as well as determine handling and transport parameters. The limitations vary considerably for each facility, and for each state and country the loads will pass through en route to the final destination. For large machinery that must be dismantled for shipment, this process must be followed for each of the major components.

There are many ways to handle large equipment, but there is no substitute for having the right tools to accomplish the job. Physically large and heavy machine tools typically are handled using portable gantry cranes or truck cranes (see Figure 3). In each case, you must have a comprehensive knowledge about the facility and the adjacent loading area.

Use great caution to avoid damaging the facility and machinery. Portable lifting equipment can put a great deal of stress on facility floors. It is very easy to put point load areas of the floor well beyond its capacity, which will damage the floor and, at worst, create an extremely unsafe situation by shifting the lifting equipment. The machinery must be thoroughly examined to determine the intended lifting points and center of gravity. The OEM is the source for this information. Improper hookups and a miscalculation of the tipping point of a machine can damage the equipment and create a very unsafe situation.


Do not overlook the relocation process as an opportunity to inspect, repair, and make modifications to enhance the press system. This can save time and money on the receiving end of a relocation project. It may be the first time certain areas of the equipment are accessible in certain areas since it went into production. A large part of the expense of equipment repairs or modifications is the labor associated with teardown and inspection, which can account for as much as 75 percent of the cost of a repair.

Many upgrades involve cost-saving advantages, so when you couple it with the savings of doing it during the relocation process, it's a win-win. If the dismantle inspection is thorough, you may find something wrong with the equipment that should be repaired while it is apart. The repair can be quoted at this time.

Components targeted for replacement or repair can be dealt with while the rest of the machinery is being moved to its new location. Another reason this is a suitable time for repair or upgrades is that production downtime has been planned. In many cases, components can be sent out for repair and married up later with the rest of the equipment as a seamless process.

For example, a company was moving four large presses to Mexico. The project manager hired a qualified service company to work on the relocation project. During the dismantle inspection, it was determined that three of the four presses required their drive shafts rebuilt and the fourth needed a ram rebuilt. The project manager scheduled the components to be sent back to the OEM at the time of the dismantle and the remaining components continued on to the Mexican border. There, the repaired components were joined with the presses so they could cross the border as a single unit as required by Mexican customs.

This provided a savings to the stamping company. If the company had waited to do the repairs after the presses were installed in Mexico, it would have incurred additional rigging, transport, and permit costs to send the components back into the U.S. The separate incident would also have added to the time the equipment would be down. In some cases, it is important to get the equipment up and running as soon as possible. The engineering support for the equipment, with their application know-how, can assist to make sure the equipment modifications that were made integrate smoothly into the new system.


Planning of the transport is critical. To obtain transport costs, accurate weight and dimensions are the first requirement. Since actually weighing machinery or components during the dismantle phase of a project is rarely an option, it is essential that you have accurate weights and dimensions of the goods to be transported. This information is vital in determining the transport equipment required to move the goods. Most large machinery exceeds the weight capacity of a standard five- axle tractor/ trailer combination. In these cases, higher-capacity transport equipment must be specified, routes must be established, and special permits must be obtained. Again, timing is essential as some individual state permits can require four to six weeks to obtain. The best source of this information is likely to be the original equipment manufacturer.

The second consideration is the ultimate destination, which will determine the transport equipment needed, permit requirements, and preparation and packaging requirements. States have different requirements for overweight and overdimensional loads, so it is essential to find equipment that can meet the requirement of all states that the loads must travel into or through. Some countries simply do not have the infrastructure to support extremely heavy or wide loads. In these cases, the only option may be to fully dismantle the machinery prior to loading.

When shipping internationally, the machinery must be preserved and packaged in an appropriate manner. Examples are full-case packaging that must have a vapor barrier for ocean shipping, and specific requirements for treated lumber for shipping into Mexico.

Understanding and providing the specific documentation requirements of the destination country is critical. There is no substitute for having the documents created on-site as the equipment is being loaded. This ensures an accurate, detailed description of the contents of each load. This will also identify transportation needs that may not have been foreseen in the planning stage.


It is important for those responsible for the rigging to have the expert staff or resources to provide the complete installation package. Here again, proper equipment for the job must be used, such as cranes, gantries, fork trucks, and manlifts as well as prints, schematics, and wiring that are correct for the installation site's headroom, entryways, parking lot, and electrical codes (see Figure 4). Specialty tools are also required and can greatly impact the installation if they are not on-site. Some of these tools are torque multipliers, tie-rod heaters, and torque wrenches. Most typical rigging houses will not have these types of tools. Generally, they have to contact the OEM or a technical support house to get them.

It is common for the physical characteristics of the installation site to be much different from the removal site. Some of the differences and challenges can be the following:

  • Removal site equipment was in a pit built for it, but the new location has no pit. This changes the passline height of ancillary equipment.
  • Ceiling heights are lower, which requires the special assembly procedures.
  • Doorways are not large enough, which requires the equipment to be disassembled or the building modified to allow the equipment to enter.
  • Power supplies are not large enough to handle the additional load.
  • Air compressors are not large enough to meet the CFM requirements.

All of these require the new location to be modified to ensure proper operation. Consideration must be given to the ability to maneuver trucks and trailiers to the plant, and in a position where they can be unloaded. Many construction sites do not have road beds suitable for overweight trailers to travel over or for rigging equipment to operate on. Having a qualified source involved in the removal who then follows the equipment to the installation site can save days, even weeks, of start-up time.

The monetary savings associated with having the equipment in production sooner rather than later can be huge. An OEM or supplier with the overall knowledge of the press can usually make training available for the operators at the new location. In addition, they can identify and supply OSHA-required tags and signs that may be missing.

Steve Richardson

The Minster Machine Co.

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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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