Die-Sep, RUD Chain, IMS aid maintenance of multi-ton tools
Crowbars and elbow grease may be cheap, but when it comes to tackling multi-ton molds and tooling, they’re often not enough. A number of companies, including Die-Sep, RUD Chain and IMS, tout equipment for making the logistics of tooling maintenance easier and safer.
Die-Sep offers a range of equipment that can separate molds weighing up to 64,000 pounds and tip molds weighing as much as 50,000 pounds. According to the company, the machines eliminate much of the work that can cause damage to molds or injuries to employees.
“All the Die-Sep machines allow plant employees to open their molds without using pry bars and damaging their molds or risk hurting anyone,” said Andy Schnorr, an engineer at metal fabricator Trade Tech Inc., which manufactures Die-Sep equipment.
Speaking in March during the Advanced Design and Manufacturing show in Cleveland, Schnorr pointed out the features of Die-Sep’s latest mold separator — its first all-electric model. The unit, which Louis Bowler, executive VP of sales, refers to as the small separator, can handle molds weighing up to 6,000 pounds; the company hasn’t yet given it a formal name. Schnorr designed it after Bowler explained to him that customers had trouble making space for bigger, hydraulic models.
Taking stock of Die-Sep’s portfolio of hydraulically driven machines, Schnorr responded, “I think we can make this design work by moving to electric.”
As a result of the change, the new, 42-inch-wide machine needs just 7 feet, 4 inches to fully open two halves of a mold to a distance of 60 inches. Like Die-Sep’s hydraulic machines, the new separator uses magnets to pry apart the mold halves at the push of a button. A comparable hydraulic version would spread open to 13 feet.
“The power requirements are also less,” Schnorr said, in explaining the appeal of the oil-free machine. “It makes it a lot easier for people to use without having special power requirements.”
While the new model is available only as a separator, Bowler said Die-Sep had plans to launch a version with tipping functionality in a matter of weeks. Die-Sep’s also planning larger, all-electric versions.
Tippers and tool-moving equipment are an important part of RUD Chain’s portfolio, as well.
Technical sales manager Bob Marszalkowski said a trend toward specialization among molders has driven more sales in the equipment. Specifically, he said that shops are diverging, with molders either going big or small, in terms of machine sizes. A custom manufacturer of slings and lashing systems, as well as hoists and chains, the company was working in April with an appliance maker in Ohio to create a system for moving a 32-ton mold.
“They’re looking at a custom platform and tuggers and casters to carry it to their toolroom,” Marszalkowski said. “The problem is these toolrooms are always in a separate facility.”
Marszalkowski stressed the importance of regular mold maintenance, including routine purging practices, to avoid shutdowns and excessive trips to the toolroom.
He noted that making such trips regularly can cause complacency and that can contribute to situations in which the tooling is damaged or someone is hurt.
“The scariest thing is when you’re a production worker at a machine and you’re working at one of these large production houses, and they’re moving a tool over your head,” he said.
While cranes may be necessary to move the largest tools, he advised using specially built equipment, such as carts and tippers, to manipulate and turn molds for maintenance. Along with lifting and lashing systems, his company offers the Tecdos Tool Mover, an automated platform that can be used to tilt and turn tooling weighing up to about 77 tons.
“The use of chains in the flipping of multi-ton molds for maintenance is dangerous,” he said. At the very least, the shift in weight when tipping a mold can result in damage to the crane’s brake. “The worst is injury when the mold pulls the crane down on those below the mold.”
Because the Tool Mover has casters and can be pulled by a forklift or tugger, it can be brought to the molding machine, and it can be safely used to transport tooling elsewhere, if necessary. That’s better than a crane or another too-oft-used alternative — carrying a mold on a forklift.
“I’ve seen people where they’ve actually had guys standing at the back of the fork truck to actually add weight so it doesn’t tip over,” he said.
New equipment from IMS eliminates transportation issues by taking the toolroom to the mold. Released a few months ago, the Res-Q Station is a “mobile tool crib,” spokesperson Christine Fitzgerald said. Featuring a 60-inch-by-28-inch tabletop, it comes in a variety of configurations, with optional lighting, casters and shelving.
“You can put your tools, mold checker, cable checkers, anything to fix, repair, set up and/or diagnose molds, as well as place scales, hose, fittings on it that will be needed, even in poorly lit areas,” Fitzgerald said.
In larger shops, she noted that maintenance employees spend a lot of time hustling between the toolroom and the machines and molds they’re repairing. “Many larger shops lose valuable time running back and forth to the toolroom.”
In addition to boosting productivity, the workstation provides a surface for part trimming and inspection; it’s even used in quality-control areas, Fitzgerald said.
Karen Hanna, copy editor
For more information
Lake Geneva, Wis., 262-767-9751, www.diesep.com
Chagrin Falls, Ohio, 440-543-1615, www.imscompany.com
RUD Chain Inc.
Hiawatha, Iowa, 319-294-0001, www.rud.com