Protecting Its Position

Bellows and machinery protection system manufacturer uses advanced bending technology coupled with flexible CAM programming to help maintain market leadership.

LVD Press Brakes in use at Beakbane

As the UK’s leading manufacturer of bellows and machinery protection systems, Beakbane Limited, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, is in the business of protecting its customers’ assets. When it came to protecting its market leadership position, Beakbane realized that advanced manufacturing solutions were a must to help advance its business. The company recently completed a two-year capital investment program to improve its metal cutting and bending capabilities. The investment program included the purchase of two LVD Easy-Form 135 ton, 3 meter, 10-axis CNC press brakes coupled with a CAM offline programming system from LVD.

Beakbane designs and manufactures protective covers in steel and flexible materials, including machine tool guards, flexible connectors, bellows, trolleys, metal fabrications and other machinery protection devices. It provides individual solutions for a wide range of equipment protection problems across diverse industries, such as medical, rail, machine tool and power generation. The company’s clients include some of the largest machine tool builders in the world.

Looking to improve its sheet metal bending operations, Beakbane installed precision press brakes that incorporate the most advanced bending technology currently available. Beakbane’s LVD Easy-Form press brakes feature an in-process angle correction system as well as CNC sheet supports and a powerful offline programming system.

Beakbane purchased its first LVD Easy-Form press brake in 2008, and shortly thereafter in January 2009 added a second Easy-Form machine after quickly experiencing the benefits of LVD’s bending technology.

The press brakes provide a rigid frame and precision technology for accurate control of the bending process. Beakbane uses the machines to bend large parts at high tolerances.

LVD Easy-Form Laser angle measurement system

An integrated LVD Easy-Form Laser angle measurement system automatically monitors and corrects the bend angle in real time to ensure excellent quality from the very first part, reducing set-up time and operator involvement. As a result, each machine requires only one operator to manage the bending process.

Because Beakbane forms large parts, it chose to equip its press brakes with a T1-T2 CNC sheet following system. The use of the T1- T2 sheet supports aids in one-person operation and enhances angle repeatability, part quality , safety and ease of material handling, further improving overall productivity.

Unlike conventional pneumatic sheet support systems, Beakbane’s T1-T2 system is fully programmable and follows a parabolic arc, moving with the material in a combination of axes, both up and down and pivoting toward the bend point. Support arms make full contact with the plate during the total bending process, preventing sheet sagging and producing a better quality part. The controller automatically calculates, trajectory, lifting arm speed and position (all dependant upon V – die opening), reducing operator intervention and setup. For Beakbane, supporting the part throughout the bending process ensures the weight of the sheet does not ‘break the back’ of the part during bending.

Further simplifying bending operations, Beakbane’s press brakes are equipped with LVD’s new CADMAN Touch CNC control. This exclusive control features an easy to use, intuitive user interface to minimize input, allowing Beakbane to move from drawing to completed part in fewer steps. CADMAN Touch operates on a Windows XP embedded PC based control unit and combines the power of the latest generation CNC control with the speed and simplicity of touch screen programming.

Offline and online process integration is achieved through LVD’s CADMAN-B 3D software which enables Beakbane to import an SAT file directly from their SolidWorks system. Offline software was a key consideration for Beakbane, as they wanted a system that could take full advantage of the press brakes’ capabilities.

Using the centralized ‘intelligent’ LVD bending database shared between the press brakes and the offline software, CADMAN automatically calculates bending feasibility, tool setups and a program for the press brakes.

The system automatically determines the optimum bend sequence using 3D data. It also automatically calculates the optimum station set-up and provides a complete graphical set up report for the press brake operator. The software even allows complete flexibility to manually or semi-automatically sequence, gauge and bend parts.

In addition, all axes of the press brakes, including the CNC crowning system, are calculated by the control and are automatically positioned for optimum bending results.

These automated functions keep part repeatability and accuracy at a high level. Once a part is programmed, a subsequent set up takes a few minutes.

“Being able to handle customer drawing files through our SolidWorks system and then directly import parts to automatically generate the information for the tool set-up as well as the machine program is a significant advantage,” said Barry Reeves, managing director. “This capability enables us to offer customers reduced lead times from point of order to manufacture. Furthermore, our employees no longer need hard copy drawings to manage, in turn removing operational costs.”

The press brakes and software have simplified bending operations for Beakbane.

LVD 3D Console

“The graphics of the 3D console clearly show the operator a step-by-step simulation of the bending sequence, which is also a useful training aid,” said Reeves. “Coupled with the use of the Easy-Form Laser angle correction system, and the T1-T2 supports, we are confident that the process is more accurate, physically less demanding, and enables us to save labour costs.”

The efficiency of bending operations has improved the company’s productivity while maintaining the high product quality Beakbane is known for. As a result, the CNC press brakes have become the mainstay of Beakbane’s bending operations.

“The increase in capacity and efficiency provided by the press brakes is necessary to take full advantage of the economic upturn when it comes,” said Reeves. “The use of the angle correction system and the material supports mean that we can be confident our accuracy will be spot on whilst being able to save labour costs.”

Applying advanced metal forming equipment coupled with its individual customer approach keeps Beakbane responsive to customers’ needs. Beakbane works closely with its customers to design and produce products that suit the application. Part of the Beakbane advantage is having the tools and latest technology to respond to demanding requirements.

“The addition of the Easy-Form machines and CADMAN software as an overall bending solution is an important factor in assuring the high quality and accuracy of our products,” said Reeves.

With LVD bending technology, Beakbane has strengthened its manufacturing capabilities, thus safeguarding its ability to continue to offer unique and innovative solutions for machinery protection systems.

This press release was featured in the following publications:-

LVD CNC press brakes improve Beakbane productivity
ManufacturingTalk – March 2009

Advanced technology press brakes delivering performance and cost benefits
Machinery – June 2009