For many fabrication shops, press brake forming has been one of the primary tools used during the metal deformation process. While the mechanics of the machine seem to indicate a simple process, achieving accuracy can be difficult. Inexperienced operators can increase waste, which slowly eats away at the shop’s profit. By upgrading your shop’s equipment and evaluating your operation you can create a more lean press brake process.
1. Focus on areas that need improvement. If you aren’t sure of the changeover points and areas where time is lost, using video recordings can help management and employees work together to brainstorm and critique areas of weakness. Some of the most common areas that create unnecessary movement and waste include looking around tools, excessive travelling between the tool storage areas and the brake, and transporting parts, sheet metal, or tools.
2. Increase training through visual aids. By increasing a smooth and consistent transition between materials and operators, you can reduce waste and improve your overall production. Creating flow charts and organizational tools can help streamline and group similar components for less alterations, but visual aids that model techniques can help operators work more effectively.
3. Organize the brake area. Reducing the amount of time it takes to locate a tool can significantly reduce waste in the shop. Placing cabinets or toolboxes near the brake area and clearly labeling where parts or items go can keep things organized. By including shadow boards with the outlines and shapes of each tool used on the brake, operators can more quickly identity what part is needed for the job.
4. Assess the equipment for upgrades. If you have the funds available, you may want to consider upgrading your old press brake for a brand new multiaxis brake system. If that is too expensive, you can also look intro retrofitting your brake with the new elements.
Increasing the productivity of your shop should increase your profit, but only so long as you continue to eliminate waste. Taking simple steps can help your operators be more efficient and provide more consistency in your products.