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Guide to Press Productivity
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Guide to Press Productivity

Dotted Line

Sep 04, 2009
By Greenerd Press & Machine Company, Inc.

A down economy is the perfect time to evaluate your production efficiencies, or lack thereof. A thorough examination of your pressworking operation may indicate that hydraulic press technology is more efficient than a mechanical press solution. Hydraulic presses can handle a wide range of applications, which in turn can broaden your opportunities for more business.

Hydraulic presses offer manufacturers a number of unique benefits. Today's hydraulic presses are faster and more reliable then ever and the technology has gone through significant change. Improvements in seals, more efficient pumps, and stronger hoses and couplings have virtually eliminated leaks and minimized maintenance.  

Check out the top ten benefits of hydraulic presses below and then complete our Hydraulic Features Rating and perhaps you may find it’s time for you to get serious about going hydraulic.

1. Save Time During Set-Up and Changeovers
Hydraulic presses can save time during set-up and changeovers. Because the full power of a hydraulic press can be delivered at any point in the stroke, there is no need to determine the exact location of maximum tonnage.  Thus, hydraulic presses eliminate the very tricky, time-consuming task of setting the stroke on a mechanical press. Users of hydraulic presses are often amazed at how quick they can change dies and get on with a new job during changeovers.

2. Flexibility for a Wide Range of Applications
Hydraulic presses are becoming more and more common on high volume production lines. A single hydraulic press can do a wide variety of jobs within its tonnage range. Commonly seen applications include deep draws, shell reductions, urethane bulging, forming, blank and pierce, stake, punch, press fits, straightening, and assembly. They are also used for powdered metal forming, abrasive wheel forming, bonding, broaching, ball sizing, plastic and rubber compression, and transfer molding.

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other electronically-based controls have improved speed and flexibility. With new computer interfaces and monitoring, hydraulic presses are now widely used in advanced computer-integrated manufacturing systems.

The jobs listed below, and hundreds of others, are being done on hydraulic presses today.
  • Electric motor manufacturers assemble motor shafts to rotors, compress laminations, and press cores into housing.
  • Automotive manufacturers press tiny shafts into water pumps, assemble shock absorbers, blank and form diaphragms, and stake disc brakes together.
  • Jewelers coin Boy Scout pins.
  • Frozen fish blocks are shaped for more efficient processing.
  • Aerospace companies form tough titanium housings.
  • Tuba bells and cymbals are shaped in huge forming presses.
  • Hardened road grader blades and machine ways are straightened.
  • Hollowware manufacturers blank and draw brass bowls automatically from coiled stock.
  • Computer disc shafts are pressed into precision bearings.

3. Full Power at any point in the Stroke
The full power of a hydraulic press can be delivered at any point in the stroke. Advantages? In drawing operations, for example, you have the full power of the press available at the top of the stroke. You don't have to buy a 200-ton press to get 100 tons throughout the stroke. Other advantages are faster set-ups and no time consuming job of adjusting the stroke nut on the slide to accommodate different dies.

4. Built-in Overload Protection
Hydraulic presses provide built-in overload protection. For example, a 100-ton hydraulic press will exert only the tonnage you have specified -- 100 tons pressure if you have it set for 100 tons, or less, if you have set it for less -- no matter what mistakes you make in set-up. This eliminates worries about overloading or breaking the press or smashing a die. When hydraulic press reaches its set pressure, that's all the pressure there is. The relief valve opens at that limit and there is no danger of overload.

The built-in overload protection applies to the tools, too. If they are built to withstand a certain load, there is no danger of damaging them because of overloading. Tools can be sized to withstand the load of a particular job, not a particular press. The pressure of the press can be set down to suit the job. The lack of impact, shock, and vibration promotes longer tool life.

5. Much Lower Operating Costs
Hydraulic presses are relatively simple, and provide a significant cost advantage over mechanical presses in comparable sizes. The numbers of moving parts are few, and these are fully lubricated in a flow of pressurized oil. Breakdowns are infrequent but when they do occur, are usually minor. Typical routine maintenance items may include replacements of packing, solenoid coils, and occasionally a valve. Not only are these parts inexpensive, but also they are easily replaced without having to disassemble the entire machine. This allows for more up-time and lower maintenance costs.

6. Larger Capacities for Less Cost
It is easier and less expensive to buy certain kinds of capacity in hydraulic presses. Stroke lengths of 12, 18, and 24 inches are common. Extra stroke length is easy to provide. Open gap (daylight), too, can be added without much additional cost. Similarly, larger table areas and small presses with big bed areas can be provided. Large 200-ton presses with relatively small beds are available; tonnage of the press doesn't dictate what the bed size will be.

7. Greater Control
With a hydraulic press, the ram force, the direction, the speed, the release of force, and the duration of pressure dwell, all can be adjusted to fit a particular job. Jobs with light dies can be done with the pressure turned down. The ram can be made to approach the work rapidly, then shifted to a slower speed before contacting the work. Tool life is thus prolonged. Timers, feeders, heaters, coolers, and a variety of auxiliary functions can be brought into the sequence to suit the job.
8. Noise Reduction
Fewer moving parts and the elimination of a flywheel reduce the overall noise level of hydraulic presses compared to mechanical presses. Properly sized and properly mounted pumping units meet and exceed current Federal standards for noise, even with the pump under full pressure.  Because each phase of the ram movement can be controlled, noise levels can also be controlled. A hydraulic ram can be programmed to pass through the work slowly and quietly.

9. Maximize Your Space

Hydraulic presses feature a compact design. A typical 20-ton hydraulic press is eight feet high, six feet deep, and two feet wide. A 200-ton press is only ten feet high, nine feet deep, and a little over three feet wide. At ten times the capacity, the 200-ton press only takes up 50 percent more floor space. That means you can maximize your press room floor space with more streamlined machinery.

10. Stay Safe
Improperly used, all machines are potentially dangerous. But because ram movements can be controlled with hydraulic presses, it’s easy to make it safe. Non-tie down, anti-repeat, dual palm button controls are used. The interlocking of guards, as well as other safety devices, is relatively easy because of the nature of a hydraulic press control system.

Taking a serious look at your current applications and press processes is well worth the time and effort.  After a careful assessment, you may well find that hydraulic press technology is the solution to improve productivity and your bottom line, not only in difficult economic conditions, but for the ever-growing demands for smaller lots, varied applications – a trend that will only increase in the future.

Hydraulic Feature Importance Chart

Rate the importance of the following features from 1-10 (1 is not important at all and 10 is very important)

Feature Rating
Ease of setups and changeovers  
Application flexibility  
Full power stroke  
Overload protection  
Lower operating costs  
Large capacity for low cost  
Press control  
Noise reduction  
Maximize floor space  
Total Score:  

If your score was between:

10 and 30 then perhaps you're doing fine with your mechanical presses for now.

31 and 50 then you might want to start gathering some data on going hydraulic.

51 and 70 then you should be thinking about moving to hydraulic presses.

70+ it's time to get serious about going hydraulic.

Evaluate your needs and start talking to hydraulic press manufacturers.