Tooling is of course a significant cost driver in roll […]
Tooling is of course a significant cost driver in roll forming. But reducing costs takes more than scrutinizing the number of passes a roll formed cross section requires. It also calls for looking at the big picture and questioning the status quo.
Installed on a CNC lathe with live tooling, a broaching tool cuts a keyway in the roll’s inside diameter.
Many factors influence the cost of roll forming, and all deserve careful consideration when starting a new project. A big cost driver is, of course, the roll tooling. But cutting costs should involve more than determining what it costs to design and Forming Machine a roll and then finding ways to cut corners.
Cutting costs also requires looking at many factors, which must be considered throughout any project, from the quoting process through production.
Amount of Roll Stations
One would think that the first place to look for potential savings would be in the number of passes required to form a section. Although this is obviously a significant place to start, be sure the job is not “underpassed”—that is, there aren’t enough roll stations to roll form a quality workpiece.
In this predicament, you usually can’t simply add an extra pass into an existing set of tools. You instead need to add extra passes and modify adjacent passes to even out the forming process. These are hidden project costs that, difficult as they may seem to anticipate early on, can be avoided by making sure a roll form section is tooled with an adequate number of forming stations.
The reality is that the number of passes, being the most obvious place to start, is not necessarily the best place to start if you need to reduce costs. If you have an extra pass or two in a set of tools that could have been eliminated, consider them as cheap insurance for the duration of the program. Instead, you can look for savings in a number of other places. This is where using your imagination is as important as paying close attention to detail.
The Importance of Collaboration
Getting everyone involved as early as possible is extremely important. Even if setup people do not buy in to the new concept at the beginning, at least they’ll have time to warm up to the idea before the tools are produced. Nobody enjoys being blindsided. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas or implement new procedures; just make sure to involve everyone affected as soon as possible.
The best money-saving ideas usually come from continuous process improvement. One just has to take the time and, more importantly, put forth the effort to look.
Roll Forming Machine Factors
Tooling designers need to consider the machine on which the tools will run. To that end, they should keep roll diameters toward the low end of the roll form machine’s vertical range.
Also pay attention to how tooling is manufactured, especially if you have an in-house tooling department. Many times smart investments in milling and turning tools can reduce handling and the number of manufacturing steps.
The Best Roll Tool for the Job
Those who do not attempt to cut costs will be left behind in today’s ever-changing manufacturing industry. As in any manufacturing process, imagination and questioning the status quo go a long way in controlling costs, streamlining operations, and, ideally, making lives easier for the people who manage and run roll forming equipment.
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