Eased Coil Changeover
Job-recipe-driven feed lines offer the advantage of automatic coil loading.
“Before, centering a coil to a line meant a lot of walking back and forth for the operator,” says Hui. “No more. Now, the coil automatically positions to the center line, and retaining arms or coil keepers, guides, and rolls automatically adjust to the proper position. Automatic positioning and coil tapering save a lot of time. And, during threading, once the stock passes the straightener, the balance of the threading process can be accomplished through the feeder console. Also, a feeder pendant can jog the straightener. No excess travel by the operator is necessary. Equipment providers such as Colt Automation have been trying to minimize coil-change time and setup times between jobs, and we’ve done that.”
Think about buying or selling a used a car. A big selling point is ‘highway miles.’ Why? A car with more highway than city miles has not been subjected to as many starts and stops, which is consistent with driving in the city. That means less wear and tear on the frame and mechanical components. The same holds true for feed lines.
Continuous-payout feed lines can interface with an analog loop sensor, and, as provided by Colt Automation, for example, control a straightener and/or an uncoiler to run at a constant speed equal to the throughput speed of the feeder, even with a shallow loop.
“Cruising the highway, and using the gas and brake, can cause a lot of problems with your vehicle, and the same is true for your press-line equipment,” Hui offers. “Many lines run that way, with a fast slowdown or startup. But straighteners in continuous-payout feed lines run at constant speeds, matching the feeder throughput speed. You don’t have the pulling and struggling the coil and its inertia. Instead, motion is smooth, which means no downtime to replace the shaft or gears. Feed lines can last much longer due to continuous payout.”
Some feed lines offer simulation functions that can test the line apart from press operation to help ensure smooth material travel.
IoT for Feed Lines
In this day and age, no press-line discussion would be complete without mentioning the Internet of Things, or IoT. Smart technology extends to feed lines.
“Feed-equipment providers such as Colt Automation are incorporating artificial intelligence and IoT into feed lines,” Hui explains. “For example, metalformers with our equipment can use an iPhone or Android smartphone as a jogging pendant. Users can jog an uncoiler, a straightener, a feeder and multiple machines from one device. And, just like smartphones, users can gain machine-control access via facial recognition or fingerprints. In addition, we can even build a customized voice-command library for users who prefer to communicate machines commands in that manner.” MF
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms
See also: Colt Automation Ltd.