Rolling with the Flow

Every year, it seems roll forming manufacturers are being asked to improve turnaround times and speed up roll forming capabilities,…

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Every year, it seems roll forming manufacturers are being asked to improve turnaround times and speed up roll forming capabilities, all while coping with heavier and higher strength materials while still focusing on safety. No problem, right?

Fortunately, solutions are available, such as improved and larger equipment and better technology. Material handling equipment in front of and at the back end of a roll forming line can help to increase production to meet the demands of customers today as well as tomorrow.

This five-head uncoiler significantly reduces coil changeover time as well as roll former downtime.

Out front

Front-end decoilers are one method to speed up operations. A decoiler – or uncoiler – feeds the coil into the next station of the process. Decoilers change over coils as materials are used and can be single-ended or double-ended, handling coils up to 40,000 lbs. The single-ended decoiler is slower, but requires less space on the floor. Decoilers can also be designed to hold multiple coils of various gauges or colors, allowing operators to quickly switch coils and keep the roll forming lines running.

Another option out front is a coil car and upender that allows for coil to be safely moved, lifted, turned into position and loaded on the coil car while the decoiler is still running. The coil car and upender can also unload partially used coils.

Coil coming off a decoiler may feed an end shear and a pre-cut operation at the front end of the roll forming machine. An end shear welder allows the operator to join the leading edge of the new coil to the trail edge of the running coil to save time feeding new coil through the entire line. It not only reduces downtime, it also limits damage due to manual feeding, thereby reducing scrap. Using an end shear welder allows for an uninterrupted feed, increasing uptime by 96 percent.

There may also be an accumulator where coil is accumulated and then fed into the roll former. Once the entire coil is in the accumulator, new coils can be loaded onto the decoiler without stopping the roll forming line, saving anywhere from 10 to 15 min. per coil change. Coil is automatically fed into the roll forming machine.

An upender allows coils to be safely moved, lifted, turned into position and loaded onto a coil car while the decoiler is still running.

Out back

Various end-of-the-line material handling options are also available to increase efficiency with finished products at the end of the roll forming process.

A nester collects and nests bundles of finished parts and sets them up for shipping. A bundler automates the handling of mini-bundles and automatically builds pre-programmed master bundles ready to be shipped based on orders. A stacker gathers finished parts and stacks them for movement with a forklift. Instead of workers picking up heavy parts up to 25 ft. long, they are handled by a machine, which improves safety and assures products are packed in correct quantities.

Once parts come off a roll former and are bundled or stacked, proper packaging is needed to ensure parts arrive without damage. Packing systems include shrink or bubble wrapping or strapping to protect products being loaded and unloaded from a truck.

When high-frequency welding and spot welding systems are integrated into a roll forming line, efficiency is greatly increased.

In a post-pandemic world, a roll forming line with material handling equipment allows workers to work safely, being 6 ft. or more apart. Without material handling, more workers are needed to do the job and those workers are more likely to be required to work in closer proximity to each other to complete their jobs.

It’s also important to note that an experienced roll forming manufacturer will take the time to train operators. Customers should be encouraged to send an operator to the equipment manufacturer’s facility to observe the machine being tested and have an opportunity to check out different challenges and gain an understanding of the machine or line. This greatly helps the operator to get things up and running safely as soon as possible.

Samco Machinery

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