How We Cut Down Machine Changeover Time

Some manufacturing processes, particularly roll forming, have struggled to meet order fulfillment on the fly, especially due to the increased emphasis on small batch or single piece production in recent years.  Due to the long machine changeover times required to switch between roll formed profiles, it is common for manufacturers to produce excess inventory while delivering on the customer’s order.  This is a common way to rationalize the cost of setup, which can take from a couple hours to a few days, depending on the complexity of forming the product.  With the excess inventory of finished goods, the manufacturer can liquidate the product into revenue for a longer period.

However, this process has the potential to be quite costly if there is a change to industry codes, certifications, business needs, environmental factors, or anything that can potentially render that product obsolete.

Formtek has reduced this risk by cutting down on machine changeover times altogether, enabling manufacturers to produce those smaller batches in a shorter period of time.  The Supermill® roll forming machine offers a patented gauge adjustment technology for uniform compensation of tooling gaps in the horizontal and vertical planes, which eliminates the need for manual adjustments by the operator. It also ensures profile dimension consistency across a range of material thicknesses, an additional benefit to product quality and consistency.

The machine is also versatile and can be designed with multiple forming zones to enable discrete adjustment of unique features. These features include profile height, profile width, leg length, etc. and can even be switched from an inside bend (C-Channel) to an outside bend (Hat Channel).

A programmable entry guide, complete with short horizontal centers, precision bearings and roll tooling, allows the forming of traditionally coil-fed products in a pre-cut arrangement.  Working from pre-cut material eliminates the need to rethread different coil sizes when changing products. It also enables the use of common fabrication tools such as turret press, laser, or cut-to-length equipment to prep the blanks to be formed.

Choosing the profile prior to running the machine is made simple with the operator’s touchscreen interface. The system is programmable, and allows the operator to choose which part to fabricate from either:

  1. Selecting from the included master part database
  2. Scanning a barcode from the incoming material
  3. Queuing production from a network
  4. Manually entering profile dimensions through the interface

All feature dimensions, as well as over-bending, flare compensation, and material thickness can be stored and adjusted by the main touchscreen control for future projects.  The system can be also be complemented by an entry feed conveyor for use with an upstream coil processing system, or as a stand alone machine to feed it discretely from existing fabricating equipment.

In short, the Supermill® system can produce a single piece, roll formed order without production of extra, finished inventory with machine changeover time taking as little as fifteen seconds.

The Supermill® system has been supplied for a variety of applications in the construction, fenestration, furniture, lighting, and mechanical component markets.  For more information, contact us now or click here to see explore more flexible fabrication solutions.

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