CNC machine tools and sheet metal machinery
Farming for productivity - Durma hydraulic downstroking press brakes

Farming for productivity

By Steed Webzell

With many manufacturing sectors struggling in the challenging economic environment, it's good to hear that the agriculture industry is presently very buoyant. It's particularly great news for the hundreds of manufacturers that serve this diverse and robust sector, such as Richard Larrington Ltd, for example.

Based in Lincolnshire, this growing OEM enjoyed thirty percent growth in 2008 and currently has the strongest order book in its history. It has also just received its biggest ever export order, to Ireland.

The company manufactures agricultural trailers such as potato box loaders, straw spreaders and rotary ploughs. Now turning over in the region of £1.2 million, Larrington recently invested around £250,000 in new plant and machinery at its 40,000ft² facility in Boston.

As well as a new overhead gantry crane and CNC plasma cutter, the company also invested in a brand new press brake. And yet this is no ordinary press brake. With some of its trailer sections as long as 8m, Larrington wanted something special to help cut subcontract costs and reduce product manufacturing times for shorter parts, which were taking too long using the company’s existing manual Sedgewick plate bender.

Having been alerted to the capabilities of Durma hydraulic downstroking press brakes, company managing director Richard Larrington promptly contacted UK agent, Axe & Status.

“We immediately liked the look and specification of the Durma machine, particularly with respect to its price,” he says. “Other quotes for machines with a similar specification were around double the price.”

Two Durma AD-E40200 synchro hydraulic press brakes were duly installed last year. The machines sit side-by-side and feature integrated controls so they can run independently, performing entirely separate operations on each 4m bed, or in little more than five minutes they can be linked to run in tandem producing parts over its entire 8m capacity.

“As you can imagine, the Durma installation has not only saved thousands of pounds a year on subcontract costs, it has also accelerated the manufacture of shorter parts and introduced significant production flexibility to our operation,” says Mr Larrington.

Typically the company uses its new Durma tandem system to form steel sheet and plate up to 6mm thick in batches of ten to fifteen. Programming and changeover times are quick, and sheet manipulation is made simple thanks to total ram control that allows the operator to program slow pressing and return speeds when handling large sheets. This greatly improves handling the sheet or plate as it is being pushed into the lower die to create the bend.

Another advantage is that it is possible to program the ram to go up very slowly for a short distance, then stop and pause while the operator has a chance to take the sheet back under his control. This not only improves material handling but can increase part quality by virtually eliminating 'dishing’ or ‘bowling' around the bend area.

The Durma has proved particularly useful for a new project at Larrington that involves the manufacture of a new chassis for its box loader trailers. Known as the LWSS (light weight super structure) chassis, it is both stronger and lighter than any chassis it has produced previously. Interest is already gaining momentum. The company is currently making its sixth LWSS and word is spreading fast.

“The Durma has accelerated the manufacture of parts for LWSS and enhanced both product styling and bending accuracy enormously,” says Mr Larrington.

In fact the machine has made a significant difference across the company’s product range. For instance, regarding shorter parts, two sets of box loader components (around eighty parts) previously took around fifteen hours on Larrington’s Sedgewick plate bender, they now take just 3.5 hours using the Durma.

“This is one of a number of Durma tandem installations in the UK,” says Mr Larrington.

“It’s already proving to be an invaluable inhouse resource, but could conceivably represent a good opportunity to add subcontract forming to our portfolio of services at some stage in the future.”

Article reproduced with kind permission from Engineering Subcontractor - April 2009

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