Imperial has the Fab Recipe for Higher Productivity

September 1, 2015

Since its inception in 1957, Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment, Corona, CA, has remained a family-owned company with a mission to be the preferred global supplier of high-quality, top-value cooking equipment to the food-service industry.

Combining skilled employees with innovative manufacturing processes, Imperial boasts a customer base ranging from major restaurant and grocery store chains to small family restaurants. Over time, the company, now with 122 employees in a 100,000-sq.-ft. facility, has evolved into a major player in the food-service equipment industry.

“We either introduce a new product or update an existing product every year,” explains Matt Wise, general manager.

Productivity Doubles After Punch/Shear Investment

Imperial also continually invests in state-of-the-art technology and machinery as part of its commitment to future growth. No more is that true than in the sheetmetal-fabrication area, where the company maintains an impressive slate of punching and shearing equipment. The roster includes Shear Genius integrated punch/shear cells from Prima Power. Imperial purchased its first two cells in 1996 and hasn’t looked back.

 integrated punch/shear cells
Two new integrated punch/shear cells have doubled production at Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment, Corona, CA. The automated cells also have cut secondary processes and manual labor.

”Those hydraulic models served us well,” says Wise, “until we traded them in for the newest generation of servo-electric Shear Genius (SGe) models in 2013 and 2014.”

The new machines enable Imperial to transform full-sized sheets into finished parts, which move to final production stages for immediate integration into the final product assembly.

“Our older hydraulic Shear Genius cells were very good,” explains Wise. “However, the new servo-electric models are faster, require less maintenance, provide longer tool and shear-blade life, and are much easier to program.

“We used to run the old machines two shifts,” he continues. “Today, we run all production on the two servo-electric cells in just one shift, and the new cells have helped us double productivity. We can go from sheet to part without re-clamping. Unlike with competing machines, punching and shearing with this model utilizes the same clamp...production is continuous. Another benefit: We have gone from a 100-amp to a 50-amp circuit for the machines, which translates into power savings.”

Taking Advantage of Automated Features

The heart of the SGe is an updated servo-electric 30-mton punching machine with stroke speed to 1000 hits/min., indexing to 250 rpm and 150 m/min. for sheet positioning. The right-angle shear uses a servo-electric actuation system, allowing for rapid and fully CNC-controlled shear movement, according to Prima Power officials. Material thickness for shearing tops out at 5 mm for aluminum, 4 mm for mild steel and 3 mm for stainless.

The automated features, including loading, punching, forming and upforming, unloading, sorting, and stacking enable minimal setup times and lights-out operations. Efficient nesting programs optimize material productivity. Results are rapidly produced finished parts with reduced scrap and labor.

Imperial processes 6000 tons of stainless steel
Imperial processes 6000 tons of stainless steel annually to produce its food-service equipment, reportedly making it the largest stainless-steel consumer in California. Brush tables in the punch/shear cells, designed for lower noise, increased sheet support and elimination of scratch risks, ensure that finished products maintain pristine surfaces.

Using its new cells, Imperial produces finished parts without costly secondary operations such as deburring. For example, nibbled edges on part exteriors are eliminated through the use of the integrated right-angle shear. Also, with the SGe sheets load and square automatically, without human interference.

By incorporating the new servo-electric punching and shearing cells, Imperial can use Prima Power’s individual-tool-holder concept that allows custom design of turret layouts. With these cells, specific tool stations are not machined into the turret, and any tool from Prima Power’s tooling partners can be installed in the turret—to 10/15/16 or 24 auto-index, forming or multi-tool stations. In addition, an auto-index system precisely rotates the punch and die in their tool holders, with rotation in 0.001-deg. programmable increments. This allows the machine to rotate beyond 360 deg., enabling the system to automatically select the shortest path to rotate to a programmed angle input into the NC part program. Imperial has six auto-index stations.

In addition, “we have 120 tools in our turret thanks to our three multi-tool stations—an 8, 10 and 24,” says Wise.

Imperial uses the SGe’s upform station to produce louvers, lances and forms, according to Wise. This upward forming option provides more accurate forming and greater forming heights, to 0.63 in., according to Prima Power officials.

Brush tables, designed for lower noise, increased sheet support and elimination of scratch risks are another cell feature employed by Imperial. The company uses carbon steel on all interior parts and stainless steel on all exterior parts. Processing 6000 tons of stainless steel per year, Imperial reportedly is the largest stainless-steel user in Southern California.

“With the amount of stainless steel that we run, the new brush tables are great because we don’t want to have marks on the material,” offers Wise.

Faster, More Accurate Assembly

“The SGe cells have made a huge difference in fit and finish on our production line, and are much more accurate,” concludes Wise. “They are excellent at holding placement and consistency, which allows us to tighten tolerances so that we can make holes instead of slots. This makes product assembly faster and easier. Hole alignment always is right on the money.” MF

Article provided by Prima Power North America, Inc., Arlington Heights, IL;

Industry-Related Terms: Carbon Steel, Die, Forming, Model, NC, Nesting, Run, Scrap, Shearing, Stainless Steel, Stroke, Thickness, Turret
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Prima Power North America, Inc.

Technologies: CNC Punching, Fabrication


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