INCREASE TOOL LIFE WITH PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

It may seem counterintuitive to pull a tool and die set out of the stamping press for maintenance in order to achieve optimal machine uptime and tool life. However, scheduling preventive maintenance is the most effective way to maximize tool life and increase productivity.

Stamping Press

WHY SCHEDULE MAINTENANCE?
When tooling is dull, has buildup or galling, the likelihood of running parts that don’t meet specifications increases, resulting in more scrapped parts. Tool wear gets worse the longer you run the punch. If it becomes too extensive, the punch will fail and maintenance will no longer be an option. The tool will need to be replaced at a much greater cost than simply maintaining the tooling in the first place. Not to mention, running worn punches can also lead to wear in other parts of the tool.

WHEN TO SCHEDULE MAINTENANCE
Determining how frequently tooling should be maintained will depend on the material you are stamping, the quantities that are run, and the production requirements of your customer. A tool running mild steel will run a lot longer between maintenance than a tool running a stainless steel or one of the new alloys, which can be very abrasive and have higher tensile strength. Whenever possible, maintenance should be scheduled when the tool is not in use to minimize downtime. However, there are instances during longer runs or when stamping tougher materials that a punch may need to be sharpened mid-run in order to prevent damage and maintain the quality of the part being produced.

INSPECT TOOLING FOR SIGNS OF WEAR
Even with a maintenance schedule, it’s important to be aware of signs that maintenance is needed. It may be time to inspect your punch if:

  • the stamped part has burrs
  • the quality of the finished part is less than expected
  • there are sudden feeding issues with a progressive die
  • the stamping press gets noticeably louder

Signs of Punch Tip Wear

Every time a set of tooling is taken out of the press for maintenance it should get a thorough inspection of all of the working components. Die surfaces should be inspected, cleaned to remove debris and lubricated. Bearings and bushings need to be inspected regularly and lubricated or replaced as needed. Look for galling on cam surfaces and check springs for damage. Coils springs that are bent or nitrogen springs with worn seals should be replaced. Finally, deburr everything prior to reassembly, ensure that everything is flat, and check alignment to avoid issues that lead to early maintenance requirements.

PUNCH SHARPENING TIPS
Surface grinding is the most common method for sharpening punches. It’s important to choose a grinding wheel with the right combination of grit and compound for your punch. Use adequate coolant when grinding to help prevent micro-fractures caused by excessive heat that can lead to premature punch failure. Taking many passes in small amounts when grinding will produce better results.

For additional tips and techniques for properly grinding tools, recommended grit and more, watch our Technically Speaking video on preventive maintenance.

Scheduling and performing regular maintenance is more cost effective than waiting for a worn punch to produce scrap parts or fail entirely. A short amount of planned downtime for maintenance is far less disruptive then shutting a press down unexpectedly to deal with a broken tool.

Read the full article as published in Fabricating & Metalworking.

MAKING LEAN A WAY OF LIFE

Nearly every business that embarks on a lean program does so with the goal of cutting costs. Those that are successful discover that at its core, lean is about three key points in every organization: purpose, people and process. If your purpose is clear, your people are empowered, and your processes are continually improving, you’ll see productivity increase and the cost savings will follow.

LEAN Current State Map

EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES
At Wilson Tool, we’ve learned the secret to a successful, sustainable lean transformation is employee engagement. You cannot have lasting change throughout your organization without total buy-in from the top down. To do so, you must create a culture that embraces lean as a way of life, with everyone engaging in problem solving every day, everywhere.

A critical first step to creating a lean culture is fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect at every level and developing trust by implementing a no layoff policy due to lean activities. People are more likely to contribute ideas and make changes that improve workflow and increase productivity if they know their job is secure.

IMPLEMENT AN IDEA PROGRAM
Unless it is something that’s already part of your company culture, regularly sharing and implementing ideas for ways to improve does not come naturally to most employees. You must give them the tools and the time to do the work needed to make simple improvements every day. And we don’t mean adding a suggestion box to the employee lunch room.

Blue Star

At Wilson Tool, we developed Solutions That Achieve Results (STAR) through a Kaizen event. Project STAR is an idea program that encourages employees to implement small, continuous improvements that focus on quality, cost, delivery and safety within their own work areas. We strive for 100% participation throughout the company with a minimum of two ideas per person. We further incentivize participation by offering a reward for every five ideas implemented, as well as quarterly and group rewards.

The key is to find whatever motivation works for your team so they are eager to participate and feel empowered to make changes. No idea is too small, or too off the wall. The more ideas they see implemented quickly and successfully, the more ideas they will share.

CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
Finally, lean is a mindset, not a project of the month or something that’s done in spare time or when it’s convenient. It is a way of life for the entire company, from the corporate offices to the shop floor to shipping and receiving, and beyond. Everyone, everywhere, every day.

Learn more about Wilson Tool’s popular lean seminars for sheet metal fabricators.

CHALLENGING APPLICATION? CONSIDER A CUSTOM RETAINER.

Custom Retainer

Wilson Tool International offers a wide range of standard retainers to meet the needs of most stamping applications. However, from time to time, a challenging application comes along where a standard retainer will not work as required. For such applications, we recommend a custom retainer manufactured by Wilson Tool to your unique design specifications.

The size and design of custom retainers are limited only by your imagination. To get started, you’ll need to identify whether you need a light duty or heavy duty retainer, as the thickness varies. Or possibly even a headed retainer. The CAD drawing you provide should indicate whether the punches are shaped or rounds. This affects the manufacturing process as well as cost. All custom retainers are manufactured to meet ANSI standards.

Depending on your application, manufacturing your own custom retainer in-house using HP Accu-Lock® retainer inserts may be an option.

Learn more about custom retainers from Wilson Tool.

SHARE YOUR IDEAS FOR TECHNICALLY SPEAKING VIDEO TOPICS

Technically Speaking by Wilson Tool International aims to help you solve common fabrication issues in a quick and simple way. We have created two Technically Speaking videos for the stamping industry and would like your opinion on additional videos. If you have an idea for a future Technically Speaking topic, send it to us.

Stamping Preventive Maintenance Video   Stamping Cost vs Value Video

IMPROVE PRESS TIME PERFORMANCE

Stamping Event

Join Wilson Tool International on Wednesday, August 14 from 8:30AM - 4:30PM, at The LeGrand Center in Shelby, North Carolina. We will present our latest, industry-leading innovations in Stamping. 

Presentations and instructional information will be offered on tool maintenance, coatings, spring safety, metallurgical properties of tool steel, and tool optimization -- to name a few.

Learn how you can apply these ideas to bring your press operations to the next level of performance.  

For more information and to register Click Here

GET TO KNOW WILSON TOOL INTERNATIONAL

BRETT WILCUTT, SALES ENGINEER AND IMPAX TRAINER

Brett Wilcutt

Brett has been a sales engineer in Wilson Tool’s stamping division since 2013. He is proud that during those six years he has been named Salesman of the Region three times.

His favorite part of working with Wilson Tool is seeing customers have that “Aha!” moment – an experience he’s had more than a few times during sales calls when the features and benefits of Impax Tooling Solutions® finally make sense to the customer.

“Whether it is a new tool steel, coating, or something like Slug Hugger® dies, the customer sees the solution I have been offering not only has a place, but is the right answer to their current situation,” said Wilcutt. “It is in these moments that I have gained some of my most loyal customers.”

Brett’s weekends are filled with soccer and baseball games with his boys, Jack (11) and Johnny (5). When he gets the time, he also really enjoys playing golf.

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SAVE THE DATE

You can always find upcoming Wilson Tool events including customer training, trade shows and more in the Events section of the website.

Pre-recorded webinar events are also always available at wilsontool.com/resources. When you arrive at the website, just click on webinars to find the full listing.

MEMORIAL DAY CLOSURE
The Wilson Tool International Offices & Manufacturing Facility in White Bear Lake, MN will be closed on Monday, May 27th in observance of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday. Our offices will re-open on Tuesday, May 28.