A prime trend in fabricating is that parts are becoming increasingly complex with more value needing to be added to the part in one process, requiring sheets to be punched, tapped, formed and bent in more complex ways. Traditionally, such parts have been processed on a series of machines in a particular order. However, manufacturers have learnt the hard way that processing through multiple machines can increase direct part cost and erode margins. This can become critical if margins are tight and lead times need to be very short.

But what if you had a machine that can do all this in one process?

Let one machine add all the value for you

LVD’s Strippit PX is exactly such a machine. It can punch, form, tap and bend parts up to 75 mm high. Adding advanced automation such as LVD’s FA-P technology further enhances productivity and throughput by automating handling operations and significantly speeding up the manufacturing process. PX can also feature an optional automated tool changer (ETM – Extended Tool Magazine) with a capacity of 200 tools and featuring all-tool rotation, allowing any tool to be used at any angle anywhere on the sheet.

Programming is easy and is handled completely offline using LVD’s CADMAN® software. Using the part’s 3D drawing as input, just a few clicks by the CADMAN operator are needed for the software to automatically calculate the manufacturing sequences and programs.

Strippit PX in combination with FA-P automation reduces direct labour cost by up to 80%

Discover how the Strippit PX Punch Press and FA-P Automation speeds up the manufacture of complex parts

Look at this webinar to see how LVD’s Strippit PX machine combines punching, forming, tapping, bending and automation functionality. The video also shows how CADMAN® software is used to program the machine to further speed up the process.

On behalf of our team we welcome you to this tech session. The focus today is flexible punching and dynamic automation. This technology is more important than ever before. Why are flexibility and automation so critical? Let's consider three important points. Firstly, short and long term impacts of the COVID crisis.

The profit rate of production and the need for greater efficiency. Businesses have been affected by the COVID crisis in different ways with immediate and long-term impacts. The crisis has and will continue to put pressure on stock levels, batch sizes and delivery times. 

Manufacturers will have to adapt more quickly to new and changing circumstances. With some supply chains restricted by lockdowns, companies are under pressure to operate more flexibly. Manufacturers will have to quickly increase their capacity in the coming years without hiring more people and without adding more equipment or requiring overtime.

Many companies are embracing automation. The crisis has helped to speed up the adoption rate: 38% percent of entrepreneurs cite automation as an important way of increasing machine efficiency. Half of metal entrepreneurs agree that automation helps to increase flexibility. Many entrepreneurs, for example 48% in the Netherlands and 35% in Germany, indicate they plan to invest in automation in the future.

Why automate? Automation helps companies to get more out of their existing machines without having to invest in new machines and without adding workers. Automation makes companies more flexible through unmanned production that can quickly be scaled up or down. Automation increases productivity and process flow.

So how to unlock this key? Manufacturers have to look differently at the layout of their production environment and their process flow. Machine utilisation and process flow are equally critical to productivity rates. Across manufacturing industries and markets, what we have learned is that automation is the key to better process flow and throughput productivity. 
Another important factor is how to modernise automation systems and optimise your process flow. It's not just about producing large batches. It's about accelerating your order-to-cash cycle (O2C). Automation reduces the cost per part as well as lead times. Modern automation systems help optimise process flow in three important ways. 
Firstly they improve the man-machine relationship. Secondly, they allow you to combine existing and new machines. And thirdly, they open the door to more creative solutions for the manufacturers. A state-of-the-art factory is defined by its level of automation. Many tasks can be completed without human intervention so operators can be reassigned to new or different tasks where they can add more value. For example, a worker can be retrained to oversee the operation of the system or to monitor the process and make decisions based on the data. Intuitive user interface technology makes this retraining easily achievable.

Evolving production systems are an important asset in creating a successful smart factory. Machines that can be expanded and combined in a modular way help you reach a higher level of operation and efficiency. Modular automation solutions offer enormous flexibility and a guarantee that they will be able to respond to changing requirements. 

Challenge conventional thinking. Three questions. How can the process evolve to be more flexible and efficient? How can you add more value, and how can you reduce lead times? To succeed with automation, it's all about adding value to the part. Punching, forming, tapping and bending. It's not just about production. It's more about flexible productivity and flow. How can automation play a part in your company's evolution to remain competitive? Ask yourself, what will your next punch press be able to do? To achieve success with your next punch press, you need to look at three things. Adding value, flexibility in production, and process flow. Adding value involves reducing material handling, optimising material usage, making it easy and safe to load and unload material, and a more capable punching process able to perform multiple processes like punching, forming, tapping, bending and automation. A flexible punch press is crucial because it drives productivity. It reduces lead times. It allows you to do more on one machine. So you maximise the use of your floor space, reducing the production cycle time and minimising errors. Process flow is equally important because a flexible automation system is essential to optimise the flow. The flow is the key to ensuring you can meet delivery times and achieve optimal cost per part. 
Centralising your production hub enables you to use real-life data to manage the process flow. The key is modular solutions with a wide range of possibilities. Modularity is vital to ensure flexibility. It is important to start with a core machine that can add value to the parts. The FA-P Flexible Automation System is designed especially for this punch press. The central points include ergonomic design so the operator doesn’t exert himself. The machine loads material and unloads the skeleton unattended while also sorting the parts. The modular design allows it to be expanded up to four metres. The FA-P uses a shuttle table to load material, as you can see on the left side of the slide.

There are shuttles with loading tables and also shuttles for sorting and stacking. Using the FA-P will increase the machine utilisation rate for a day and night shift up to 50%. It allows connection to tower automation for input stations or to warehouse automation for a more complete solution. Custom-made pick and sort pallets are also possible. 

A compact tower is another modular automation solution. It can be loaded with several different types of material, different material thicknesses, and can store the finished sheets from inside the system. This can be the first step towards unmanned production. It's also possible to combine an FA-P system with a compact tower. The sorting footprint will be much larger and can be customised.

Another automation solution is expanding tool storage. A tool storage system will increase the productivity of the punching machine. This Extended Tool Magazine (ETM) provides an additional tool capacity of more than 60 tools. It uses a carousel to house the tools which are positioned automatically in the machine. 
The ETM provides quick access to several tools which are always ready in the production cycle.
For increased productivity, there is also the option of parts sorting. A small car means small parts and when falling through the punch press drop door they can be automatically sorted by a bin sort. Sorting takes place while the machine is operating, making the entire system more productive. The bin sort is comprised of four programmable bins that are arranged in a carousel. Bin selection is made by the operator based on the job being processed.

Now let’s take a closer look at our PX with FA-P and Tower Automation System. The Tower Automation System or TAS with FA-P is available for sheet sizes up to 3 by 1.5 metres. The TAS has a modular design to build any of several configurations with additional machines. 

Here, in this example, two machines are connected to one TAS system: one at the front and one at the back. This machine configuration is set up at our XP Centre in Belgium. In turn, the TAS is connected to the FA-P. Sheets are loaded automatically. On the punch press, this is not handled with a shuttle system but through a direct connection to the tower automation system.