Meeting the demands of your customers’ production orders without having to worry about operator shortages is where automation technologies and modern programming systems can really make a difference in achieving greater machine flexibility, availability, and productivity. A single high-power fiber laser cutting machine can produce the volume of parts that four CO2 machines used to produce in the same amount of time. With that in mind and given the labor intensity of press brake setups and operations, it is critical to ensure the reduction of bottlenecks at the press brake stations.
Labor Shortages Solutions
So, what does a fabricator do when they cannot find operators to run their equipment, or for that matter, find enough of them to run multiple shifts? Modern offline programming systems combined with machine automation technologies will help to reduce the number of skilled operators required.
Modern offline programming can produce ready-to-run programs, so operators are not spending time programming at the machine instead of operating the press brake. A single operator can manage multiple automated equipment in most cases, and automated systems can run in off-shifts and weekend shifts, which are even harder to hire for.
Press Brake Offline Programming and Setup
For press brakes, modern offline programming has evolved to the point where the entire robot program can be generated automatically and checked for collisions before it even reaches the production floor. This greatly reduces press brake and robot setup times and lowers the piece quantity threshold for utilizing bending automation.
Automated press brake systems excel in rapid setup and changeover times. Automated tooling changeovers are also a major enhancement to reducing manual setup times. Traditional manual setups can be time-consuming and prone to errors, leading to production delays. With automated systems, the ability to store and retrieve specific bending programs swiftly streamlines the changeover process as well as during an operator’s absence, during off-shifts, or on weekends. This agility empowers fabricators to handle diverse production requirements seamlessly, enhancing overall operational efficiency.
Automating the Sheet Metal Bending Process
Utilizing automated bending cells provides a consistent method of meeting bending demands regardless of operator labor issues. A single operator can manage multiple bending cells in maintaining material flows, quality control, and tooling setups. The additional benefit derived from press brake automation is the ability of the systems to operate on off-shifts and on weekends to increase throughput.
Automated systems optimize resource utilization by maximizing the efficiency of every operation. By precisely controlling the bending process, these systems minimize material scrap, leading to significant cost savings in the long run. Additionally, the ability to operate unmanned during off-hours ensures that the manufacturing facility operates at its full potential around the clock. This optimal resource utilization translates into increased revenue streams and higher returns on investment.
Real-Time Press Brake Monitoring and Analytics
Automation brings with it the power of data. Automated robot-tended press brake systems are equipped with sensors and monitoring tools that gather real-time data on various parameters, such as bend angles, cycle times, and machine performance. Fabricators can leverage this data to identify patterns, optimize processes, and make data-driven decisions. Predictive maintenance algorithms analyze machine data to foresee potential issues, allowing for proactive maintenance and minimizing unplanned downtime.
Robot-Tended Press Brakes: Catalysts for Transformation
Automated robot-tended press brake systems are not merely machines; they are catalysts for transformation. Beyond mitigating labor shortages, these systems epitomize precision, agility, and data-driven decision-making. By embracing these technologies, fabricators embark on a journey toward unparalleled efficiency, sustainable practices, and business expansion.
In this era of rapid technological advancement, investing in automated robot-tended press brake systems is not just a choice; it is a strategic imperative that empowers fabricators to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.
By Frank Arteaga, Regional Director Marketing – Americas
Bystronic Inc., Hoffman Estates, IL