Mold changing is one of the essential steps in a metal forming process. During a metal forming process, a set of molds is used to deform and hence reshape the metal work pieces into a desired configuration. Mold changing is required in the forming process to fabricate different parts of the work pieces or when manufacturing parts with particular surface designs. Moreover, when the number of products changes, the mold set needs to be changed in order to meet the requirements.
During the mold changing process, the forming machine is idled. The period of time that a machine is not operating is referred to as the downtime. The machine downtime often comes when mold changing, material feeding, and equipment maintenance take place. With longer downtime, the general productivity of a specific production line is declined. A quick mold change system is introduced as one of the measures to minimize the machine downtime.
Quick mold changing is a concept aiming at reducing the equipment downtime and optimizing the productivity of a manufacturing process. This concept is carried out by the implementation of the quick mold change system (QMCS). In contrast to a traditional mold changing system which involves a certain level of manpower and time, the quick mold change process has a high level automation characteristic in nature which cuts down the manpower, time, and errors while boosting the accuracy, precision and efficiency in general.
A quick mold change system consists of two major components: the clamping system and the power unit. With these two components incorporated together, the mold changing process can be done more easily. The clamping system replaces the manual mold change and installation that is traditionally done by machinists. The power unit refers to the hydraulic power system or mechanical power system that drives the movements of a quick mold change system.
The quick mold change system is a machine that clamps, secures, lifts, positions and installs the molds to a forming machine. Such a system can be a high-end fully automated machine that is controlled solely by a CNC system; it can also be a highly automated platform that is operated by a machinist. Even with a semi-automated machine, the operation of the system is very simple still.
With a full-auto QMCS, no operating personnel are required. The entire mold changing process is performed by the machine. The system in this case is a part that is incorporated with the forming machine and the operation is preprogrammed. The semi-auto QMCS usually comes in the form of a mold changing cart that can lift, clamp and position the molds. There are guiding systems to help the operator dock the system to the forming machine so that the mold changing process can be done quicker.
The implementation of a quick mold change system brings about several benefits to the production of parts. To begin with, it is a highly automated process which involves minimal human factors. The advantage of cutting down the human factor in this process is that the precision and accuracy of the operation can be attained. With human operators or machinists to lead the mold changing process, errors may occur at times. To this end, the circumstances can be effectively declined with the aid of a quick mold change system.
The errors that can be made during a mold change process such as docking failure and accidental clash and fall of tools can lead to the excess wear and possibly the damage of equipment and tools. Since the mold change process is operated, controlled, and monitored by a computerized unit, the mold changing can be done both properly and accurately and so the errors are way less likely to be made. This is a key advantage of introducing a quick mold change system to the line.
The use of a quick mold change system cuts down the manpower and minimizes the errors. Both of these benefits ultimately lead to a key advantage that the majority of the industrial manufactures value the most: the reduction of manufacturing costs. On one end, with fewer human operators, the labor cost is reduced; on the other end, with fewer errors and wear, the maintenance cost is reduced. As a result, quick mold change is favored by the manufacturers.
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