Stamper Powers up to do the Heavy Lifting
STAMPING JOURNAL JULY / AUGUST 2016
July 12, 2016
By: Kate Bachman
Stamping manufacturer StampSource brought in more than $3 million worth of work—a 25 percent revenue increase—with a capital investment of two heavy-duty feeders and three high-tonnage presses. It was the largest expansion in the company’s 66-year history.
StampSource, Charlotte, N.C., is a $13 million-annual-sales contract manufacturer with up to 75 employees at peak demand working two shifts. The company recently purchased three presses and two heavy-duty feeders that have expanded its capabilities, allowing it to accommodate larger dies and stamp heavier-gauge stampings and more complicated parts than it could before.
The manufacturer’s stampings and assemblies vary widely in size. “Our products run the gamut,” said Sharma Burk, sales engineer. “We do everything from a grill scraper to school bus and child safety seat components to power distribution transformer components and framework for solar farms.”(To learn more about StampSource’s solar industry forming, read “Manufacturing for Solar” on sustainablemfr.com.)
StampSource prefers to keep most of its work in-house. In addition to production stamping, it has die design and engineering support, a fully staffed toolroom, laser cutting, gas tungsten arc welding, gas metal arc welding, robotic welding, and press brake bending. It also performs assembly and kitting. “We are able to push an item from the stamping department through the fabrication department, and then on to the kitting department. The only thing we don’t currently do in-house is plating and powder coating, although we do offer these secondary services through external partners. We try to keep everything in-house as much as we can and be all-encompassing,” Burk said.
“When our customers come in, they give us a drawing and say, ‘Can you make this?’ and they hand it over for us to take from there. For us to be able to do everything in-house really helps us on our end,” Burk said.
Often customers send in their own dies. Having a full toolroom can be beneficial, Burk said. “You have the opportunity to put the die on the table and open it up and review what it is doing. You can work with the die more intricately and put it back in the machine and test it to get acceptable parts. Having this expertise allows our customers the freedom to move a die without being concerned about the quality of the end part.”
Expanding Capacity to Fit Aspirations
When company owners Steve Hollis and Luke Faulstick searched for ways to increase revenue, they looked inward at the company’s in-house capacity. It had a weakness in that it could not stamp heavy-gauge, heavy-duty parts. A key customer produces transformers comprising several heavy-gauge parts. To bring that business in, StampSource made a strategic business decision to expand its machine base.
“We had reached our press capacity. Plus, some of these dies are so big, our press bed sizes weren’t going to work. We had small or OBI [open-back inclinable] presses. Our biggest press was a 200 ton. The thickest gauge material we could form was 3⁄16 inch,” said Scott Herbert, engineer. “There were things we weren’t able to do because we didn’t have the right tonnage and bed size.
“We needed tonnage and we needed to accommodate larger die sizes.”
The owners decided to look at the cost efficiency of bringing the projects in-house and getting the machinery to perform it, Burk said. They performed a capacity analysis to see which and how many machines would be needed to ramp up to full production. The analysis indicated that the acquisition would save money in the long run, Burk said.
Powering up With Power Presses StampSource purchased three presses—a new 275-ton SEYI SN2-275, a refurbished 400-ton Niagara SE2-400-54-48, and a refurbished 500-ton Danly—plus a heavy-duty Dallas Industries feed line to perform the “heavy-lifting,” so to speak. StampSource also purchased a medium-duty CWP feed line to increase throughput on an existing 110-ton press (see Figure 4). Doing so increased company revenue by 25 percent. “We brought in over $3 million worth of work with that capital investment,” Burk said.
“With this expansion, we can now process heavy-gauge coils up to 3-gauge and 30 in. wide,” Herbert said. “The 400- and 500-ton presses really upped our capabilities in terms of the types of stampings that we can do, just from a straight tonnage standpoint.”
Long Press Beds. The biggest gains were in the die sizes, rather than the tonnage, Herbert relayed. “With that increase in bed size, we were able to bring in the larger jobs because we were able to fit the die up in the press. Some of the jobs can require as much as 8- to 10-station progressive dies.
“The larger bed of the 275-ton press is what sets us up to take these larger parts,” he added.
Controls. The company installed a Wintriss Smart Pac® on the 275-ton press. “We’re able to utilize a number of cams for different actions. We’ve got part ejection, cam slide forming, and in-die protection—that protection is the key to consistent part quality. This helps us be more automated and less manual labor-dependent.”
Heavy-duty Feeder Fits Heavy-duty Press “To go with the 400-ton press, we also purchased a heavy-duty feed line so we can process relatively heavy-gauge material—2- to 3-gauge up to 30 in. wide,” Herbert said. The Dallas feed line comprises a D-500 feed rated at 0.187 in. by 36 in. wide, a Dallas DPS-3.5-7-36-RH straightener, and a Dallas DJR-30,000-lb. x 36 RH uncoiler, also rated at that size. The feeds are hands-free, allowing personnel to load a coil without ever having to touch it. “This increases safety immeasurably,” Herbert said.
The press line is now being used as a heavy blanking line to blank large discs and beams.
The new CWP feed line mounted to the 110-ton press consists of a 0.125-in. by 30-in.-wide servo feed and a 0.125- by 30-in. CWP CoilPak30 straightener with a 6,000-lb. uncoiler attached.
To accommodate the new machinery, the company moved things around and found new places to store raw material. “The feed lines for those presses are quite big. One of the areas has a nice big pit next to the machine for the scrap material to drop down into,” Herbert said. Construction crews excavated the pits and poured concrete.
The group is still working on reorganizing the warehouse. The welding department was moved from the back room to the front of the facility. “Pretty much everybody was touched by the project,” Herbert said.
Expanded Possibilities The new presses and feeders offer opportunities to quote new projects as well, Burk stated. “For us, it’s exciting because we’ve been able to expand our capabilities and accommodate larger stampings for our current customer base that we’ve been unable to do before.
“We have one progressive die for a part that has 19 stations. Looking at the strip when it comes off the die is fascinating. The 3-foot-long progressive die strip is displayed on my office wall,” Burk said.
“Our possibilities are limitless,” she continued. “We’ll go after everything. Anything that is metal and within reason for us to do on a progressive die or a single-hit die, we’re after it.”
Solar energy accounts for 64 percent of new electricity capacity. Six manufacturers, including SolarWorld, Johnson Bros. Metal Forming, Hynes Industries, StampSource, All-New Stamping, and CEWA Technologies have found market opportunities manufacturing for solar.
Solar energy accounts for 64 percent of new electricity capacity, according to the U.S. Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA). It is projected to grow an additional 94 percent by the end of this year.
The U.S. installed 1,665 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in the first quarter of 2016 to reach 29.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes. With more than 1 million individual solar installations nationwide, the industry is on pace to nearly double in size in 2016.
This would lead to conclusions that manufacturing opportunities abound for U.S. manufacturers; however, six of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers are Chinese companies. Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy, and Chinese-based Canadian Solar are the top three, according to a 2014 FORTUNE® article.
Six manufacturers, including SolarWorld, Johnson Bros. Metal Forming, Hynes Industries, StampSource, All-New Stamping, and CEWA Technologies have found market opportunities in the solar energy industry. Many astute manufacturers have mined opportunities beyond the crystalline silicon modules–and are making coin in the process.
Founded in 1947, Johnson Bros. has experienced many changes in the industry, along with growth. Annual sales have grown to $7 million with 36 full-time and six part-time employees. Company leadership see market opportunities in renewables. “Outsourcing has made it difficult for American manufacturers and Johnson Bros. in the last few years but the future now looks very promising. As we move into an environmentally friendly society, Johnson Brothers continues to create green energy products,” the manufacturer’s website states.
Because solar panel frames vary greatly in shape, size and weight, the manufacturer makes a range of custom roll-formed shapes for all different solar panel frames and structures. A solar frame must vary in strength based on its intended use and the weight of the panels it will hold. “Solar panel parts and panel components are at the core of what we produce for the solar industry.
Hynes Industries, Youngstown, Ohio, manufactures custom roll-formed solar racking components, which are used to hold the solar panels in place on roof installations (see Figure 3). Its foray into the solar industry began as construction and material handling markets were fading. “We were looking for a new, growing market,” remarked Rob Touzalin, innovation and new product development. “We noticed that solar panels had to sit on steel or aluminum structures. We saw that as a new market possibility.”
The company is equipped with 38 automated roll-forming lines with in-line punching and stamping capabilities, and a full complement of secondary finishing equipment.
“A big thing with these mounting systems is the wind load—very important,” Touzalin continued. “These panels have to stay steady at wind speeds from 90 to 120 miles per hour. So we help our customers by suggesting redesigns or by designing stampings that handle the maximal wind load—holding down panels while holding down costs.”
Stamp Source, Charlotte, N.C., recently boosted its now $13 million annual revenue by entering the solar energy market.
The manufacturer expanded its stamping capacity with three new presses, which empowers it to take on the additional work. Stamp Source makes the structural metal framework underneath the panels that hold them. “One of the things we’re doing on the 275 [new 275-ton press] is work for Daetwyler Clean Energy which makes the framework for solar arrays in solar farms,” said Sharma Burk, sales engineer. One of the OEM’s new projects is building solar farms on top of landfills, she added.
CEWA Technologies has found its solar market opportunity outside of solar photovoltaic modules altogether. The manufacturer makes concentrating solar power (CSP) dishes.
CEWA Technologies is a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based developer of concentrating solar power dishes and solar tracking technology to produce sustainable thermal energy and electricity.
The point concentrator dishes tare compact CSP units that use primary and secondary mirrors to efficiently heat a working fluid, generate electricity, or do both at the same time.
The concentrating solar power (CSP) dishes are capable of delivering 33.5 kW of thermal power, 14 kW of electricity or a combination of the two at a price competitive with fossil fuels – even without government subsidies, according to the company.
The company’s website states that CEWA Technologies is actively seeking qualified manufacturers to produce its point concentrator dishes.