THE technology that integrated punching and shearing to take sheet metal workshops into a new era has marked its 15th year with the release of a new generation unit.
Finn-Power's Shear Genius automates the entire material flow in sheet metal jobs, from material storage, loading and unloading, to scrap removal, component sorting and stacking.
Apart from significantly heightening productivity and profits, the CNC controlled Shear Genius increases operator safety and reduces scheduled downtime commitments.
Ingo Bentrup, managing director of Advanced Sheetmetal Technologies - distributor Shear Genius - says the production rates gained with this latest technology takes a user into 'world's best practice' category.
"On the factory floor, the biggest productivity gained from the integrated system is that the traditional sequence of 'blanking-punching-folding' has been replaced by the far more efficient 'punching-blanking-folding' system.
"This is because Shear Genius and Finn-Power machines that preceded it punch on the uncut raw sheets then cuts them to individual sizes (blanks) automatically at the end of the process.
"Effectively, this integrated technology will see the end of dangerous workshop practice where staff are cutting, sorting and stacking sharp-edged blanks by hand and manually inserting them into punch press machines,” he said.
"The process is now completely automated from the moment a raw material sheet of steel is loaded onto the Shear Genius, up to the point where a finished product emerges.
"Even the scrap is automatically removed by conveyors into safely guarded areas so manual handling is unnecessary once the machine begins the job - thus allowing machine operators to concentrate on core duties."
Shear Genius is available in sizes to handle the following raw sheet sizes: 1250mm x 2500mm; 1500mm x 3000mm; and 1500mm x 4000mm.
A very high rate of productivity is gained from the turret because more complex nesting can be achieved and slitting operations are not required.
Due to the high level of automation, unmanned operation is possible for long periods because loading of sheet stock and unloading of finished parts and scrap is totally automated.
The CNC control facilitates a highly economical use of material. There is far less scrap and more parts can be produced out of sheet stock by eliminating skeleton frames between parts.
Better part accuracy is possible as punching and shearing is performed on the one machine without any removal of the sheet from work holders.
Risk of injury to workers is reduced. With fewer operations needed, manual removal of parts from the machine or from a skeleton frame is no longer needed, and there are no shaker tabs to remove and no secondary shearing.
Programming time is reduced because slitting operations are obviated, while nesting a shear cuts are added automatically. Step marks and burrs are totally eliminated, thus giving excellent finished part quality.
"The machine can easily replace two standalone turret punch presses - each of which requires a full time operator," said Mr Bentrup.
"Rather than taking away jobs, wherever these integrated Finn-Power units have been installed it has created employment because the company has grown with its new efficiency, plus it has freed up floor staff from dangerous manual handling tasks which they normally prefer not to do.
"Fifteen years ago the technology was rejected as a nonsense as the conservative market could not think beyond standalone turret punches and shears, but now full automation is a performance necessity in sheet metal manufacture.
"Companies who have invested see jobs out much faster and a far better quality of components."
With Shear Genius, a three-tonne pallet of steel can be processed in an average of six hours and this can be maintained on a 24/7 non-stop basis for weeks if required.
Earlier Finn-Power models required manual blade adjustments which then had to be performed during scheduled maintenance, but now it is automated through the CNC technology.
For thorough integration of materials handling with Shear Genius, the Night Train FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System) enhances right angle shearing and laser cutting and its automatic loading and unloading functions, so the handling aspects of the operation are totally automated.
Various Finn-Power machines can be set up to work side by side with Night Train FMS overseeing and integrating safe, automated handling of raw materials, blanks and processed parts.