Sustainability and Cash Flow of Efficient processes
Solving the problem of process efficiency has two positive effects.
First of all, introducing coil-fed processing into the process – as we’ve seen – produces raw material savings that can even be in excess of twenty percent for the same quantity of product and that means positive margins and cash flow that is immediately available to the company.
This may vary depending on sector and use: in any event, it’s material that the entrepreneur and the company no longer have to purchase and the waste also doesn’t need to be managed or disposed of.
The whole process is much more profitable and the positive result can be seen immediately on the income statement.
Furthermore, by purchasing less raw material, the company automatically makes the process more sustainable, because that raw material no longer needs to be produced downstream!
Energy efficiency is another important element in the cost of each production cycle.
In a modern production system, the consumption of a roll forming machine is relatively low. Thanks to the Combi system, lines can be equipped with several small motors driven by inverters (instead of one, large special motor).
The energy used is exactly that required by the forming process, plus any friction in the transmission parts.
In the past, a big issue with fast fly cutting machines was the energy dissipated via the braking resistors. Indeed, the cutting unit accelerated and decelerated continuously, with a great expenditure of energy.
Nowadays, thanks to modern circuits, we can accumulate energy during braking and use it in the roll forming process and in the subsequent acceleration cycle, recovering much of it and making it available to the system and to other processes. Furthermore, almost all electrical movements are managed by digital inverters: compared to a traditional solution, energy recovery can amount up to 47 percent!
Another problem regarding the energy balance of a machine is the presence of hydraulic actuators.
Hydraulics still perform a very important function in machines: there are currently no servo-electric actuators capable of generating so much force in so little space.
Regarding coil-fed punching machines, in the early years we only used hydraulic cylinders as actuators for the punches.
The machines and customer needs continued to grow and so did the size of the hydraulic power units used on machines.
Hydraulic power units bring oil under pressure and distribute it to the entire line, with consequent drops in pressure levels.
The oil then heats up and a lot of energy is wasted.
In 2012, we introduced the first servo-electric coil-fed punching machine onto the market.
On this machine, we replaced the many hydraulic actuators with a single electric head, managed by a brushless motor, which developed up to 30 tons.
This solution meant that the energy required by the motor was always only that required for cutting the material.
These servo-electric machines also consume 73% less than similar hydraulic versions and also provide other benefits.
Indeed, hydraulic oil needs to be changed approximately every 2,000 hours; in the event of leaks or broken tubes, it takes a long time to clean up and refill, not to mention the maintenance costs and checks related to a hydraulic system.
However, the servo-electric solution only requires the refilling of the small lubricant tank and the machine can also be fully checked, even remotely, by an operator and a service technician.
In addition, servo-electric solutions offer about 22% faster turnaround times compared to hydraulic technology.Hydraulic technology cannot yet be completely eliminated from processes, but our research and development is certainly directed towards the increasingly widespread use of servo-electric solutions due to the numerous benefits they provide:
- Substantial energy savings;
- Elimination of the costs of disposing and changing the hydraulic oil;
- Production department cleaning;
- Simple maintenance and teleservice;
- Adjustable stroke;
- Speed can also be set for several steps;
- Variable torque allowing the safeguarding of dies.
Below, you can see a servo-electric punching head in operation:
Case history: Sukup Manufacturing Co.
Sukup is a major producer of grain silos in the USA, which currently uses six of our coil-fed punching systems to make galvanized metal sheet components, up to a thickness of 4mm, starting from the first hydraulic coil-fed punching systems, right up to the latest servo-electric machines.
Below is what Steve Sukup, owner and CFO of the company, says about his experience with coil-fed punching lines.
“Sukup Manufacturing Co. is the world’s largest family-owned manufacturer of grain storage, grain drying and handling equipment, and steel buildings.
When we met Dallan, in 2008 we liked the fact that also Dallan is a family business and that we could talk directly to the business owner.
For our products, we are processing very large quantities of sheet metal and, at the time I met Andrea, almost all the production of punched parts started from sheets. The raw material was punched with all the products nested in the sheets, but we used to have very high scrap percentage: easily 20 to 30%, and in some cases up to 60%!
Moreover, there was a lot of material handling to separate and sort the parts, and optimizing the material was a struggle.
So we purchased the first coil fed punching machine that was delivered in 2010.
The fact of working from coil immediately reduced the overall scrap to less than 5% and has reduced greatly the amount of labor required, because the production comes in line and all the parts come separated automatically, with no micro-joints.
This has improved considerably also our productivity, because we don’t need to load and unload sheets onto the machines: they just “print” automatically the parts, ready to bend.
Our parts are also parametric: they have similar hole patterns and have often only the variation in length, so today we were saving also the time for programming all the machines parts because we only need to set the different parameters in the job lists, and the machines are ready to produce.
So we had a great saving in raw material, production time and time for programming thanks to this new technology, and we decided to continue investing in these machines. Today we have six coil punching machines from Dallan and just purchased the laser to add to a punching system: so we are going to have also the first Dallan combo system in the United States.”
The benefits are so revolutionary that it will probably still take some time for many companies to fully understand them.
Pioneers of this new way of producing will continue to have all the advantages of having been the first to adopt them for a few years, enjoying better margins, better planning and production management – even with fewer employees – and much more time for themselves.
If you want to discover more about sustainability, cash flow and other topics related to the efficient processes, require the book “The Revolution of Efficiency” writing to [email protected]
CEO – Dallan Spa