With employers everywhere facing chronic labor shortages, automation can play a key role in bridging the labor gap for the forging industry. It can also improve worker safety and boost productivity, often significantly.
Automation upgrades for new and remanufactured equipment are growing in importance and sophistication every year — from horizontal forging machines and vertical presses to hammers, solid ball die forgers and much more. As the largest forging equipment supplier in North America, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press is at the forefront of the automation movement.
Robotics can form a big part of any automation upgrade. Repetitive tasks that were once performed manually — such as moving heavy steel rods, pipe and other stock in and out of forging equipment — can often be replaced with robotic arms or servos:
- Robotic arms can be installed to remove trim on newly forged parts
- Robots can automate part transfers in two-stage forging die presses
- Parts can be moved through various stages of the forging process with robots and other motorized devices
The skilled design and engineering teams at Ajax/CECO/Erie Press can help you meet your automation goals. We recommend a 6-step planning process that starts by selecting an experienced automation integrator, who can design the system components beyond your forging equipment:
- Identify your forged parts with the highest payback potential. This usually means selectively automating forged components into families that are similar. Larger, more unusual parts are often not economically feasible for automation.
- Assign a project manager (ideally a mechanical engineer) who can work directly with the automation integrator to collaborate on decisions.
- Carefully define your project parameters, including timing and specifications.
- Conduct a thorough safety review of plant requirements. Robotic systems, for example, may require additional safety features, such as gates.
- Gather all information into a proposal drawing and write up a Request for Quote (RFQ).
- Review layouts as they are presented, make amendments as necessary and complete the approval of the system design.
Moving materials from point A to point B has always been a large and often time-consuming aspect of the forging process. As the industry moves away from the traditional practice of putting a human on every non-forging task, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press can help you replace these manual handling processes with advanced automation technologies.