2022-05-14 23:44:02 By : Ms. Judy chen

The best quarterback can see the entire field of play, making adjustments to play calls to maximize each offensive possession. A metal fabricator or metal former needs the same complete field overview if a company is to make the most of its production efforts. Getty Images

If you follow football, you know that successful plays depend on each player’s ability to execute their assignment while responding to the situation on the field as it unfolds. This demands that players see the field of play, respond to immediate activity, and anticipate other players’ actions.

Forming sheet metal components is similar. The biggest difference is that the field of play isn’t as visible as a few yards of football field. Technology offers us the opportunity to expose field conditions and anticipate activities as they evolve.

On the game field, each player needs the ability to monitor and respond to player positions as they happen. Different player positions have to monitor a different set of variables.

A quarterbacks must assess the entire field of play. He needs to read the offensive lineup before the snap, how well his linemen are protecting him from being tackled, where his receivers are, where defensive players are in relation to his receivers, how close his receivers are to the sideline, and where the first down marker is.

Offensive linemen must understand their immediate surroundings to create rushing lanes and defend the quarterback. Defensive linemen need to understand that defending their assigned gaps forces a running back into the arms of a defender, but must adapt when a teammate is double-teamed[or pancaked.

Defensive backs must know where receivers are, watch the quarterback’s actions to anticipate a pass, and read routes to anticipate receiver or runner movements.

On the plant floor, each employee also has a window of activities they must monitor. Managers and maintenance personnel must know the status of equipment and people to anticipate maintenance activities and ensure all positions are manned and operating efficiently. Operators should be aware of the operating condition of their tools and equipment to anticipate events before they become problems. Managers should know material specifications and properties of the coils and blanks moving through the plant floor.

Material properties, machine component conditions, tooling, maintenance, operating conditions, and processes all influence your ability to form components reliably. Each blank has a set of mechanical and chemical properties that follow it through the forming process. Your material’s properties might even change as they progress through your forming processes. Your choice and application of lubrication affects friction and heat during the forming operation, as does the condition of the lubricant. The condition of equipment bearings, energy conditioning, hydraulic pumps, and metal fatigue also play roles in the success of your forming operation.

Most of your forming variables aren’t evident to the naked eye. Monitoring, data persistence, and awareness make many of these variables visible and enable you to learn from history, respond to immediate changes, and anticipate future conditions of your equipment and their impact on formed components.

Whether you call it IoT, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, data analysis, or just computing, the technology of sensors, data collection, and interfaces offers opportunities to see your operations in greater detail and clarity. Such technologies offer the chance to determine which material property ranges work best for a given geometry. They can help you monitor equipment and component states to anticipate maintenance needs and identify optimal operating conditions. They can identify correlations and possible causes and effects of both favorable and unfavorable events.

Monitoring your plant floor conditions requires an information source, an interface to support capture, storage, analysis, and notification. In some cases, the information is already available; in others you might need to install monitoring devices on important components. Some examples of opportunities to capture status information follow:

These examples and others can offer guidance to identify and prevent failures in the forming process. Monitoring and analysis can identify immediate issues for remediation by maintenance or operations staff. Analysis of persistent information can teach you what material properties result in the fewest forming failures. It can help you optimize your choices and application of lubricant. You can identify equipment conditions that are destructive to your forming success or that lead to equipment failure itself.

Today’s sheet metal forming organizations must use technology to better understand their forming operation. Advanced materials and component requirements demand us to capture and evaluate more information about the materials and equipment we use. Much of the information needed is available. Monitoring and information technologies offer the opportunity to make hidden variables visible and measure their relationship to forming success and failure. Even smaller suppliers can benefit from capturing readily available information (mill certifications and tonnage monitors) to identify the root causes of failure and better manage their operations.

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