Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

It’s Raining Pressroom Technology

March 31, 2022

During the past several months, rainwear-industry manufacturer Spectra Gutter Systems has completely revamped its pressroom, one of five buildings on its Atlanta, GA, campus. The stamping plant is home to 30 presses, 75 employees and dozens of dies. It stamps a variety of rainware products including gutter end caps, outlets, miters and hangers in several styles and sizes.

Stamtec-presses-feed-lines-Spectra-Gutter“When we set a die, to optimize efficiency we run it as long as possible,” says Kevin Thompson, corporate product engineer. And lately, the firm has been setting dies in a bevy of brand-new mechanical stamping presses.  

“For years we only purchased used or rebuilt presses,” Thompson adds, “which typically bring reliability concerns. Our goal is to be a worldclass manufacturer (Spectra also operates manufacturing facilities in Clearwater, FL, Indianapolis, IN, and Dallas, TX). To get there, we realized that we had to invest in new pressroom technology. For that we sought to partner with a supplier that could deliver turnkey press lines, including new feeds.”

Spectra Gutter Systems’ pressroom-technology partner: Stamtec Inc. and its machine distributor Manufacturing Technology, LLC (M-Tech), Birmingham, AL.

Grow Capacity and Throughput, and Boost Reliability

Spectra’s pressroom upgrade launched during the summer of 2021 when it installed two new press lines, anchored by a 160-ton press and a 110-ton model. To date, it has installed six 110-ton models and two 160-ton presses, with the last installed in March 2022.

“We don’t need a lot of press tonnage,” says Thompson, “as we’re primarily stamping thin-gauge aluminum no thicker than 0.063 in.”

Much of the material is painted inhouse, via slitting and coil-coating operations. And while the firm has been investing in new technology, “we’re also trying to get smarter about how we develop our tools to optimize productivity,” Thompson adds. “Much of that development is proprietary but suffice to say that as order volume for gutter accessories continues to rise, improving press speed and parts out per hit are top of mind.”

Each of Stamtec’s 110-metric-ton (121-U.S. ton) presses boasts a 7-in. stroke and maximum press speed of 65 strokes/ min., with a bolster area of 71 by 25.5 in. The 160-metric-ton (176 U.S. ton) model provides 8 in. of stroke, maximum speed of 55 strokes/min. and bolster area of 79 by 30 in.

“The Link Electric press controls provided with the presses,” Thompson shares, “along with the ability to employ tonnage monitors and in-die sensing in a plug-and-play fashion have been game changers for us. Adding in-die electronics to the older presses proved challenging.”

Thompson specifies feed sensing and part-out sensing on all of his tools, helping to avoid downtime from crashes. And, he recently added another toolmaker to the team to enable inhouse retrofitting of dies with sensors, rather than outsourcing.

“We really don’t want to rely solely on the operators to stop the presses to avoid part pileups or feed jams—another focal point as we continue our journey to become worldclass and rely more on technology and less on people.”

New Coil Lines, and Plenty of Training

Stamtec-Presses-Spectra-Gutter-SystemsWith the new presses came new servo feeds—two different model numbers from Stamtec. The LUH/NCF-series coil lines—Spectra has two models—feature two-in-one uncoiler/ straightener (nine rolls) units; manually operated coil keepers; and loop-control light sensors, paired with separate servo feeders. The lines boast a maximum working speed of 16 m/min. One model, the LUH/NCF-400, offers a maximum coil width of 153⁄4 in. and coil weight to 4400 lb.; model LUH/NCF-500 coil lines feed coils to 19.7 in. wide and weighing as much as 6600 lb. Thompson greatly appreciates the benefits of servo-feed technology.

“Several years ago, we primarily ran air feeds,” he notes. “But many of our older tools are not piloted, meaning that coil-feed accuracy and repeatability directly impact part quality.  With servo feeders, the material feeds precisely and repeatedly. And, we have fewer maintenance issues.

“To bring our production team up to speed on the coil lines and new presses, we felt that investing in additional training with M-Tech was essential,” Thompson continues, “from a safety and productivity standpoint, and to help prevent damage to the equipment.”

Spectra Gutter operators attended M-Tech’s three-day training course, covering a variety of topics including die setting, feed-line setup, conveyor setup and operation, press-control programming, and die protection.  

“So far, the additional operator training is working,” Thompson says. “We’ve virtually eliminated unplanned downtime on the equipment. And, the new press lines have been providing nice, even tonnage profiles across the entire press bed, critical as some of our dies are 4 to 5 ft. long. On our older presses and particularly with draw dies, any issues with ram parallelism showed up in subpar part quality. We had several dies that gave us problems on the older presses that, once moved to the new presses, now run great.”

Thompson also credits the new press lines with improving the pressroom’s ability to run takeover dies, “often not the highest-quality tooling,” he says. “Since moving some of these tools over to the new presses, part quality has noticeably improved. We’ve increased our uptime, leading to improved efficiency and more accurate production scheduling. Improving press reliability is providing a huge advantage when it comes to achieving schedule completion on a daily basis.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Bed, Die, Draw, Lines, Model, Point, Ram, Run, Stroke
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Stamtec, Inc.

Technologies: Coil and Sheet Handling, Stamping Presses


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