By the nature of their operations, press brake machines in particular requires quite a bit of set-up time due to the different tool setups required and the variety of programs that must be processed each day. The more time an operator spends on set-up time, the less the press brake is available for actual bending. For this reason, it is very important that any and all set-up processes are looked at carefully. The goal is to increase the available bending time and reduce the non-productive process of set-up time.
Off-line Press Brake Programming
While simple parts are most certainly easy to program at the brake, one has to consider the lost bending time when programming directly at the press brake control. If you are wondering how you can get more productivity out of your current press brake, and you are not currently off-line programming, this is a great opportunity to make the change. People often see press brakes as the bottle neck of production. This should not be the case! With Fiber lasers cutting parts faster than ever before, it is critical that your downstream processes adapt to this increasing volume of parts.
Implementing off-line programming is a major step towards reducing the non-productive time at the press brake. With off-line programming, as the programmer creates the program either from 3D models or from drawings, the software will select the exact tooling which will also determine the application of the correct bend deduction and the overall dimension of the flat blank. The software now has a correct flat blank which will be used at the laser and the bend program which will be used at the brake. This is critical in reducing setup times because often an incorrect flat blank causes the press brake operator to again make programming changes to the flange lengths in order to compensate for the incorrect blank. Once again, this takes time away from the ability of the press brake machine to actually bend parts.
Additional Off-line Press Brake Programming Benefits
Good off-line programming of the press brake machine will not only select the correct tools and generate bend deductions, but will also setup your tool mapping and automatically set up additional tool stations along the table to accommodate all of the required bends. In addition, the back gauge is simultaneously programmed as each bend is programmed.
The press brake programmer can simulate the bending sequence to make sure there are no collisions before the program is sent to the press brake. Once at the brake, if the operator wishes to change the bending order, they can still do so by utilizing a drag and drop re-sequencing directly on the operator screen. The operator can simulate the sequence as well.
Another opportunity to reduce set-up time at the press brake machine is to make sure that the bending programs are sequenced for the least amount of tooling changeovers. In this way, all of the programs that require a specific tooling set are placed in sequence, reducing the total number of non-productive times required for tool changes.
An Important First Step
Reducing set-up time on manually operated press brake machines is one of the most effective ways to increase productivity, increase machine capacity, and reduce overall production costs. Only after an exhaustive analysis of the non-productive times from the time the order is received until it ships, can a valued assessment of the true impact of reducing set-up time at the press brake machine be made. Implementing off-line programming is an important first step in reducing set-up time at the press brake, because it leads to increased available press brake bending time and increased productivity.
By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.firstname.lastname@example.org