Making a call about what to do with your ageing machinery is a difficult one. It can be hard to determine when’s the best time (from financial and productivity perspectives) to replace machinery which is still functional but technologically out of date. Retrofitting is a great alternative option for operators who are not in a position to invest in an upgrade and want to make the most of what they’ve already got. Taking this route can improve productivity, minimise waste, and reduce operator fatigue. This guide provides an overview of how to go about determining if your current press brake is a suitable candidate for a retrofitting upgrade.
What condition is your press brake in?
First and foremost, you need to assess your press brake’s electrical, hydraulic and mechanical condition to determine if it’s worth augmenting. The key areas you need to assess are ram accuracy, pedestal control, backguage control and press brake control.
If your ram is still producing accurate enough bending results for your current applications, retro fitting will probably be the most cost effective way to improve productivity. If the ram is not currently accurate enough for your applications, no amount of retro fitting is likely to resolve this.
Is your pedestal control functional? If not, look into the availability of spare parts. Control retrofits need functional controls to work with in the first place, if replacement parts for your machine are costly or too hard to find, it may mean a retrofit is no longer the most cost effective option.
Replacing a backbulge control is a relatively straightforward way to increase the productivity of your press brake so if your backguage control is struggling, it could be a retro fit candidate.
Press brake control
Does the functionality of your press brake come through the control head? If so, retrofit options will expensive. If not, a lot of basic interfaces can be used for your machine and it is a relatively cost effective fix.
What type of machine do you have?
The technology that your press brake uses to function dictates what types of retrofitting solutions can be applied.
Mechanical press brake
- There is no way to gain true programmability of this type of ram
- A stand-alone CNC backguage system may be added
Hydraulic press brake
- Usually require PC based retrofit controls which are quite sophisticated and can therefore be quite expensive
How do you use your press brake?
What are the main pain points that affect productivity/efficiency when your press brake? Understanding what these are will help you determine what types of retrofits to undertake.
- If the bend-to bend dimension is more important to you than the flange then a front gauging solution would be best
- If flange dimensions are more important, back gauging is the solution
- If you frequently need to adjust the height of your gauging surface or fingers to accommodate tool changes, then an R axis backgauge system that lets you program height adjustments for every bend is ideal
Ram depth and angle
- If the ram depth and angle needs to be frequently adjusted, then productivity can be boosted by retrofitting a ran of Y axis to the frontgauge or backgauge system
- If there are varying angles in the same part, a Y axis also allows you to adjust angle and depth for each bend
Part handling and gauge adjustments
Adding the following axes to your backgauge system can help with a multitude of productivity issues:
X axis: To minimize handling the same part multiple times
Y axis: To minimize handling the same part multiple times
R axis: To minimize handling the same part multiple times, if your gauging surface/plane requires multiple changes for one part
Z1 axis: To minimize handling the same part multiple times, if your gauging surface/plane requires multiple changes for one part, to reduce the setup time between finger adjustments
Z2 axis: To minimize handling the same part multiple times, if your gauging surface/plane requires multiple changes for one part, to reduce the setup time between finger adjustments
- An offline programming retrofit allows engineers to pre-program a job from their computer to reduce operator error and optimize bend sequence and process
Determine what you need
The size of your press brake as well as your desired control capabilities will determine the cost of your retrofit. Control capabilities can be incredibly sophisticated and offer a wide range of features including job storage, or multiple job storage, ram programmability, programmable fingers to the backgauge system, programmable gauge bar height, the option to program a ran in angle or depth mode, remote programming, tool libraries, networking and software integration.
Acra are sheet metal manufacturing machinery experts who are here to advise you on the most cost effective solution for your machinery. We offer repairs and retrofitting services as well as quality new and used press brake models for sale. To learn more about our capabilities please call 0 39794 6675.