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Transitioning Your Die Shop  Part 2-Building on the Basics
Transitioning Your Die Shop Part 2-Building on the Basics By: Jim Szumera - MACOR Published on: 09/16/2014
Transitioning Your Die Shop- Part 2, Building on the Basics?

In part one we discussed the first parameters needed in transition. Preferably, your production parts are similar and not too complicated or requiring special pre or post treatments of one kind or another. We will also assume that you have the titled necessary documentation in place. It may or may not be complete but nonetheless it’s there.

Documentation is the foundation for every successful business. The level of completeness determines how the company functions. For instance, you may have a production plan and process FMEA in place but it may lack the detail needed to troubleshoot successfully. It may not contain all the information affecting the process. The lack of complete data will cause disruptions, downtime, and impact quality. The same holds true for die maintenance. Does the tool have supporting documentation to service all aspects of maintenance. This may include, but not be limited to, detail prints with the latest revisions recorded, and a thorough process FMEA describing every known problem, root cause and solution. It may also be advantageous to have spare parts ready or replacement kits. This step eliminates down time by facilitating a changeover instead of a sharpening. Are the check lists complete and accurate? Is there a work instruction complete with pictures and illustrations? Are quality documents in place describing patterns and compliance? If the answers are yes, the transition becomes a lot easier. However, the magic question now is about the completeness and availability and access to the data.

Another element to success is a visual 5S workplace. Are all the tools ready and easily accessible? Are the instructions and checklists publicly posted. Is all the necessary equipment and inspection tools useable and quickly accessible. Is the maintenance area properly equipped and ergonomically functional?

In our next posting we will discuss the staffing process and what this encompasses.
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Transitioning the Die Shop- Can I Do It Successfully?
Transitioning the Die Shop- Can I Do It Successfully? By: Jim Szumera - MACOR Published on: 08/26/2014
Transitioning Your Die Shop- Can I Do It Successfully?

The reasoning for making such a transition must be based on necessity. That necessity is the lack of expertise remaining in the marketplace coupled with the need to be more competitive. Do I need tool and diemakers to keep my shop functioning from a die maintenance and production standpoint? What do they actually do that cannot be done by others not in the trade? Do I need to pay someone $25-$30 an hour to stand by a surface grinder and watch it go back and forth. Do I need special expertise to drill a 1/16 diameter hole through a 1 inch block of steel? If I have qualified tradesmen, why am I still working overtime? A good example of transition are the medical offices throughout the country. They have transitioned their practices completely and successfully, utilizing medical technicians and assistants. The technicians and assistants carry out many of the daily tasks required. In fact many medical outlets rely solely on technicians.

The main focus in a manufacturing transition should be your production expertise. Are your production parts complicated. If so, what makes it complicated? Is the majority of parts symmetrical? Are they round? Is there a great variation in part geometry? What are the tolerances required? These conditions need to be analyzed to determine what degree of competency is needed to facilitate maintenance and production.

The next critical area is control. What controls do I have in place now? Do I have the proper documentation covering all processes, both production and die maintenance. Many companies only go as far as meeting there customer requirements for traceability and documentation that they totally overlook controlling the in house processes such as die maintenance. Is quality engaged in all facets of production?

If these 2 topics, control and complication, meet criteria, you are probably in a very good position to move forward in the transition. Change is never easy. Through the past, many of us have come to completely depend on the expertise of the Tool and Diemaker, but the fact is that expertise is now running on empty. Our next articles will cover the actual tasks, choosing the right people and enabling them to perform to their optimum consistently. We will also address sustainability for the future and how that is enforced.
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Comments

Dona VincentSep 4, 2014 - 11:36 am
Great intro to this question many of us are struggling with.
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Runnining Older Presses
Runnining Older Presses By: Jim Szumera - MACOR Published on: 06/23/2014
Tips and Tricks to Producing Quality Parts in Older Machines
Oftentimes I fall into the blame game. Is it the press? Is it the die? I have had new dies installed into presses only to make several hundred hits before the punches would shear. I have had draw dies set up resulting in cracked cups, wrinkling on one side only, galled and sheared. The initial tendency is to address the problem as a tooling issue; after all, it was the tool that failed. If the tool is machined and set up correctly, it can never be a tooling issue. The root cause often lies elsewhere. If a tool fails shortly after set up, one needs to look closely at the press variables. These can be alignment, wear, parallelism, speed, stroke, timing or lubrication. One of the most critical performance criteria is press alignment. Older presses, through neglect, age, off center loads, constant area loads and the floor foundation itself all contribute to miss alignment. Several simple checks should be made to determine the press accuracy and alignment. First, the surface of the bolster and ram need to be checked for flatness. After years of pounding, the ram and the bolster may have an area of impression. A good rule of thumb is .001 per linear foot. Any more than that is trouble. The bolster may have to be reground if it shows excessive depressions. The ram also may have areas of depression. Resurfacing the ram may be too costly and time consuming. To compensate for the ram I may elect to “soft mount” the upper shoe using a hard urethane sheet between the ram and the upper shoe. This acts as a “filler” and will compress slightly on the down stroke. Another method is to mount a pre hardened 4140 plate to the ram, provided you still have adequate shut height. Basically we are installing a new surface to the ram. All high volume heavier material stamping dies should be designed using a 4140 steel die shoe to begin with. The higher strength material will prolong the surface life of the ram and bolster. Using 4140 for the die shoe, in many cases, will allow the elimination of back up plates. That savings will more than offset the increased cost of the shoe. The lower shoe must be supported all the way through the bolster, wherever there are large cutout areas. I have actually encountered a lower die shoe so flexed that the shims behind the bushings slipped under the die block. In another case, slugs actually slipped under the bushings. The die shoes also need to be checked for excessive bending and corrected as necessary. If you are stamping thin materials, you may not experience these types of issues. Short of rebuilding the press, I will modify the tool to improve alignment and prevent shearing, galling or breakage. If I am dealing with older presses I may design my tooling with guided strippers and no press fits. On draw dies, I will allow the draw punches to float and find their own center. This will always make for a better looking even draw. In some applications, involving high speed dies, I will not bolt down the lower shoe. It is allowed to float. Any modifications to mounting methods should be done in a safe and protected manner.

We have listed several ways to help correct the press inaccuracies such as installing pre-heat treated plates to the upper ram, regrinding the bolster, supporting the lower shoe, and various tooling corrections. Other issues that can cause die failures are crank and pitman timing on double crank machines, galling of the press slides and gibs, short guide pins that exit the bushings on the upstroke. This usually results in deflection and “bounce” on the down stroke. The crank assemblies can be out of timing with respect to each other. Another critical component are the isolation units under the press feet. Are they worn or collapsed? The floor foundation is another factor. Does the entire press flex on the down stroke, given the weakness of the floor foundation. I have had instances where the floor was cracked between the press legs and actually flexed. In the idle state, the press checked out fine. Another issue that rears its head slowly is with open back incline presses or OBI type. These presses can "yawn" or open more in the front over time. It may be necessary to actually shim the front of the bolster to compensate. In any case, if you have evidence of press degradation you must set up a plan to address these issues. The plan may include increasing inventory, outsourcing, or running in optional available machines giving time to rework the press, and planning for new presses in the future. You cannot keep running presses in poor condition and expect quality parts every time. Post your ideas.
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