Monday, December 18, 2017

Pressroom Equipment 101 - A Glossary of Terms

We love our pressroom equipment. And we like to talk about it.

But sometimes when we speak about our equipment, we’re met with blank stares. Much in the same way parents are when they speak about their children.

In our case though, it’s not because our pressroom equipment could use some discipline or is just not that interesting. Because it IS interesting.

The stares typically come from those who are never on the factory floor. And it’s because they simply don’t understand the terminology. 

So we’re gonna break it down for you. Let’s start with the basic three: 

1. Coil Reel (a.k.a. Uncoiler, Side Winder, De-Coiler, De-Reeler, Pay Out Reel)

When your buddy Tom refers to the coil reel - or any of its various aliases - he’s talking about a revolving spool-shaped device on which metal is wound. 

It has an expanding mandrel that grips the inside diameter of the coil and rotates as the material is pulled off of the coil.

2. Straightener (Flattener, Powered, Pull-thru)

If your sister Louise tries to explain that a straightener will really fry your hair, she’s probably talking about a different straightener. Unless she works in a factory - in which case she should keep her distance from the straightener.  

In any event, straightening involves the action of taking metal stock of various shapes and passing it through a series of staggered rolls - the rolls usually being in horizontal and vertical planes - or by reeling in two-roll straightening machines.

3. Roll Feed (Servo)

Generally speaking, roll feeds have two rolls mounted on top
of each other which are set to pinch the material between them. When those rolls rotate, the material is advanced through the die in the amount at which the feed is set. 

Roll feeds are activated by servomotors (servo roll feeds). 

Conventional Feed Lines

Now, take the coil reel, the straightener and the roll feed we discussed above and arrange them just so and you have a conventional feed line

The coil reel operates by using brake tension - either with a friction brake or one that’s motor-generated. When the material reaches the straightener, the machine operates with variable speed control so that the pulling operation can combine high loads and dynamics with smooth acceleration and deceleration. 

In some cases, there is a coil loop between the straightener and roll feed for increased comfort and safety. It can be bridged for threading, either manually or hydraulically. 

The final link in the feed chain - the roll feed - is the component that gives the whole operation its pulse.

Compact Line (SmartSaver, SpaceSaver)

These are the desired feed lines when there are issues with floor space utilization. And challenges with floor space are especially real for those of us in the stamping industry. That’s because conventional lines require a lot of space for slack loops in light-gauge and medium-gauge processing. 

But when a compact line is specified, a feed line length of 40 to 50 feet can be reduced by as much as half. How does this miracle occur? Not through angels. Compact lines simply combine the three functions of unwinding, straightening, and feeding into one machine.  

So how does this work with the heavier-gauge applications? A cradle/feeder/straightener design is the go-to for saving floor space. And just what is a coil cradle? Not something to rock factory babies to sleep in, that’s for sure.

Coil Cradle

The purpose of a coil cradle is to help unwind coils in rough production environments. (Not altogether different from how a cradle helps babies unwind when the going gets rough - i.e. “enough with the mashed peas already.”) They typically work with thick and narrow materials and are mostly combined with a straightening unit.

Coil cradles offer some advantages: 

  • simple handling of even high-tensile materials with a strong clock-spring
  • short set-up times
  • elaborate coil handling concept which allows for rewinding of unfinished coils

They’re just plain good for space-challenged operations.

And this brings us to two other terms you’re likely to hear and maybe not understand.

1. Air Feed

Contrary to how it sounds, this isn’t the practice of acquiring all one’s nutrients from the air. (This practice is called breatharianism and it’s a real thing. A real scary thing.)

Anyhow, an air feed is used to feed raw material into the die in a stamping press. The method generally requires two air-powered gripping devices, as well as an adjustable-stroke air cylinder which is set to push the material through the prescribed amount.

2. Leveler

As its clever name implies, a leveler is used to level (or flatten) a rolled sheet, strip, or plate by reducing or eliminating distortions. This is usually achieved by drawing the material through a series of rolls on the leveler, which are set to alternately flex the material up and down. 

So there you have it. 

All the jokes aside, we take our machinery very seriously and are proud of our work. We hope this post helped you to better understand what happens on our factory floor from day to day. 

And if you have any “pressing” pressroom equipment concerns, feel free to contact us. We’re always happy to help. Really. We are. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Is It Time for a Controls Upgrade?

Just because your servo roll feed is getting older doesn’t mean it’s becoming obsolete. 

But as the machinery ages, your servo feed controls become
progressively more out of date. And if you’ve done your research, you’ve discovered that the replacement parts are getting harder to find. You might even be getting looks of pity when you inquire about them.

The parts and service folks at Feed Lease will never give you looks of pity. We know your struggle.

But you have to face it. Even if your trusty old feed is going strong, the other components of the system are phasing out. And when it finally decides that enough is enough, it’s gonna stop doing its job. And that means you’re gonna stop doing yours.

Then you’ve got an idle press. 

And That Means Money Lost for Every Hour You Are Idle

So if you’ve got one of these trusty old servo roll feed lines, be grateful it continues to serve you so well. Then do yourself a HUGE favor and take advantage of the Feed Lease in-plant equipment inspection. We’ll give it the well needed once-over to determine whether it’s time for a controls upgrade BEFORE the machine tells you by shutting down your factory. It’s the definition of preventative maintenance.

The inspection can be scheduled at a time when a Feed Lease technician may already be planning to be your plant or factory. And because their control panels are not proprietary, they can perform the inspection on any servo feed machine, not just one from Feed Lease.

In fact, Feed Lease recently did a controls upgrade on a competitor’s machine. The mechanics of the feed were good enough that the company didn’t want to do an entire new feed and Feed Lease happily stepped up to the job - upgrading the competitor’s machine and saving their customer a significant amount of money. 

A controls upgrade includes a new Emerson drive and motor package, Apex gear box W ratio to match (10:1, 15:1, 20:1), 5-meter cable length, belts and sheaves for power transfer, new slope top enclosure and user friendly color touch screen.

So If You Have An Older Machine, NOW Is The Time

Feed Lease wants to make it clean and simple to do a controls upgrade on your existing machines - whether it’s ours or anybody else’s. So give us a call at 248 377-0000.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


As the end of October arrives each year, we get pretty excited here at Feed LeaseYeah, there’s that ever classic combination of costumes and candy. But for us, the end of October heralds the coming of the biggest event of the year - FABTECH.

This year, FABTECH will be held November 6th through 9th and it’s in Chicago, which is like having it in our backyard. If we had a really big backyard.

Of course, we always attend FABTECHIt’s North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event. And with over 50,000 attendees and more than 1,700 exhibiting companies, it’s the place to be. And be seen. It’s just extra special that it’s here in the Midwest this year. 

But What’s Not to Love About FABTECH? 

Even after our long marriage with FABTECH, we’re gonna go ahead and say nothing. And that’s something.

After all, aside from bringing a wealth of innovation and technology solutions, there are some pretty sweet expert-led presentations covering the latest trends and technology in the metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing industries.

And then there’s the whole learning thing. 

That’s right.

FABTECH Offers An Array of Educational Programs 

Because in the immortal words of Francis Bacon, knowledge is power. With 150+ targeted technical, operational, economic and managerial sessions, we’ll be exposed to all sorts of solutions to help us improve productivity and increase profits. Yep. We are gonna get seriously schooled. 

Plus, while we’re exchanging best practices and exploring the latest technology and advancements in the industry, we’ll also be hanging out with old friends while making some new ones. We’re gonna network like no one has ever networked before.

Speaking of networking, come by and see us! 

You Can Find Feed Lease At Booth #A5150

And we’ll be doing some schooling of our own with a special video presentation. So check us out. 

There’s even more in store for FABTECH 2017. Don't miss it!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Looking for THE State-of-the-Art Servo Technology Experience?

Quit your looking. We know when and where it is. October 3rd and 4th in Cleveland, Ohio.

Yeah, that’s right. Cleveland. Ohio. Because that’s where the Servo Technology Experience conference is being held this year. And anyone who’s anyone in the metalforming industry is going to want to be there. Seriously.

First of all, it’s powered by the PMA and MetalForming magazine. So that’s cool. But what’s more, we’ll be there too. And not only because it’s one of the best conferences around.

Feed Lease Is Also Sponsoring the Event!

Look. It’s no big secret that the press industry is leaning more and more toward servo presses because of the advancements in metal stamping presses. There are just a slew of different jobs being done now by servo presses. (We don’t know exactly how many is in a slew, but you can bet it’s a whole lot.)

This conference will give you the low-down on state-of-the-art servo technology that’s currently used in presses, transfer systems, coil-feed lines and more. Geared for engineers and technicians working in metalforming plants, there will be a wealth of technical presentations and case studies describing how modern servo-based equipment can help you - the stamper - to improve productivity and quality.

Here’s the breakdown of what you can expect :

Day One

The focus will be on servo-press technology and include scheduled breakout sessions with leading suppliers of servo presses. You’ll have the chance to network with industry thought leaders and get insight into how this new technology is currently influencing the metal-stamping industry and where it’s headed.

Day Two

Attention will shift to transfer systems, coil-feed lines and other servo-based technology that’s occupying pressrooms today. You’ll get a chance to learn how these systems work in unison to lead stampers to increase your performance and profitability.

And Feed Lease Will Be Right in the Heart of It All

That’s right. We’ll be there interacting with customers, doing presentations, making new friends, talking the talk, walking the walk and sharing our expertise. And we’re looking forward to it.

So don’t miss out on the servo event of the year. See ya in Cleveland, October 3rd.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Absolute Easiest Way to Take the Error out of Coil Loading

People are always talking about the cutting edge. 
But when it comes to handling coils, we’re more interested in the leading edge. And we’re especially interested in keeping that leading edge at the top of the coil.

As anyone who has ever handled coils knows, setting the coil on the coil car correctly every time doesn't always happen. 

It seems like a simple operation, but sometimes stuff happens. And humans are prone to making mistakes. (Hence the saying, “They’re only human.”)

For example, let’s just say that the guy who’s responsible for loading the coil onto the coil car next Thursday accidentally drinks decaf that morning. We won’t go into the horrid details as to what will cause this decaf mishap. But suffice it to say, in his foggy-headed attempt to load the coil onto the coil car, he’s going to accidentally place it backwards.

The leading edge is now on the bottom and we all know what that means. (Hint: It’s not good.) 

It means you’re going to have to saddle up for the time suck required to call in the crane and/or forklift to turn that coil around. In no time, you’ll likely find yourself lamenting the following:

If only there were a rotating coil car that could orient the payout off the top of the coil!

Well, there is. (You probably already knew where we were going with this.)

We call it the Feed Lease Coil Load Car with Rotating V-nest. 

It’s really just a fancy name for a rotating coil car with an independent rotating platen that allows the operator to ensure the coil wrap direction is properly oriented on the mandrel. And with it, there’s no need for heavy machinery (or caffeine) to orient the payout off the top of the coil.

So yes, it is entirely possible to speed up your coil loading process with the simple push of a button. But wait, there’s more.

Because if your issue isn’t so much a groggy employee, but rather the challenges of tight loading space, say no more. Presto-whammo! You can simply load the v-nest from the side, then index it into position for loading on the reel. So, yeah. It’s pretty much the same thing as magic.

And Feed Lease is among the few who produce this rotating coil car. 

Plus, the rotation is done with the space-age technology of hydraulics. That’s right. Hydraulics. So one could argue that we’re interested in cutting edge too. (But maybe not.) 

For more information on our coil load car with rotating v-nest, contact us

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer. Brought to you by metal stampers.

Ahhhh. June 21st through September 20th; the three months that make up summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a time when things heat up and a brand new season of leisurely outdoor activities presents itself.

Yep. Here at Feed Lease, we know that summer is all about good times.

It’s also a time, though, when things tend to slow down a bit in the metal stamping industry.

And that’s interesting because, well, summer wouldn’t be summer without metal stampers.

Imagine the following scenario:

It’s a late warm August afternoon and your family has just arrived at an RV site to begin your summer vacation. The kids are released from the RV, tearing out into the woods like wild animals. You walk around to the back of the RV to check on your aluminum fishing boat, knowing full well it made the journey just fine. Like it always does.

Your kids are ready to hop in the boat and get right out onto the lake to do some fishing. “Tomorrow,” you respond, then ask them to help get things set up for dinner. They are cooperative at first, placing silverware on the table in the RV and setting up your favorite kettle style charcoal grill they make fun of you for continuing to use. But they are soon distracted again.

It isn’t long before a group of kids come rolling along in a golf cart and lure your kids away to go play the washer toss game. It’s okay though because it’s only the next site over and if you’re being really honest, their particular brand of “help” has ceased being terribly helpful. Plus, you need some down time to discuss things with the spouse and your brother Larry. (Yep. Seems “Uncle Larry” comes on every trip.)

Once evening rolls in, you’ve all finished eating and are sitting around the big fire your brother built. The kids are sleepy after their long journey; which was facilitated by two hours of exhaustive play in the above ground pool at home before you left. (While you mowed the lawn.) And now you’re ready to settle in and start your vacation. You’ve got a tentative plan in place. Four or five days out in the woods and on the lake to get back to nature, finished off by two days at Cedar Point, like you promised the kids. And Uncle Larry.

Sounds pretty nice, right?

But how would this same scenario look without the metal stamping industry?

Here’s how it would go down.

      First of all, the kids would have to exhaust themselves in a boggy pond because without the metal structural frame or connectors, there could be no above ground pool.

      And forget about the silverware at dinner, you’ll have to use plastic. Yeah, you could get by without the barbecue tools, but what about the barbecue? Without metal stamping, there’s no barbecue. Kettle or otherwise. No burgers and franks tonight. Unless you like them raw.

      So how about some fish then? You better start gathering sticks to make spears because no matter how killer your fishing poles are, without the reels made by metal stampers, they’ll be more nothing more than glorified pool cues.

      Furthermore, you’re going to have to spear those bottom-feeders in the boggy pond because the lake is no longer a possibility. That’s right. The aluminum boat, its seats, parts of its motor, the trailer it rode on and the trailer hitch to which the trailer was connected are all made possible by the metal stamping industry. So are the filleting knives, so even if you catch a fish, good luck cleaning it. 

      Actually, while you’re gathering sticks, you might as well just plan to gather a whole bunch more. Then get some tarps or canvas and get ready to call your backyard the campsite because here’s the kicker. Without metal stamping, there’d be no RV. There’d also be no golf carts, no riding lawn mowers and - worst of all - no washer toss game.

      Oh, and Cedar Point fails to exist.

Without the metal stamping industry, it’ll be just you and your family, sitting on your far-too-long lawn, staring into Uncle Larry’s fire near that mosquito ridden bog, waiting until the sun goes down so you can crawl into your canvas tents, hungry and with nothing to look forward to.

Okay. It might not be that grim. But summer would definitely be a whole lot different without all of the products made by the machines of the metal stamping industry. Especially those made right here in the good ole U.S. of A.

So remember that sticking with “Made in the U.S.A.” keeps American manufacturing alive and well during the slower summer months.

And it keeps you cruising in your RV, fishing in your aluminum fishing boat and, most importantly, a superstar at the washer toss game.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Don’t Wait Until You NEED A Retrofit from Feed Lease

Your servo roll feed is getting older.

If it’s really old, it might even be regarded as an elder. And like a wise old elder, you give it the respect it deserves for continuing to carry on. You live by the motto - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 
But here’s the problem with that thinking.

As the machinery ages, your proprietary servo feed controls become progressively more out of date. And if you’ve done your research, you’ve discovered that the replacement parts are less and less available. Or even worse, they may be obsolete. When you inquire about needing these parts, people are laughing at you. (If they’re kind, they’re doing it behind your back.)

Of course, the parts and service folks at Feed Lease would never laugh at you.

But you’ve got to face it. Because being in denial about your trusty old machine can cost you big. Even if the feed is still going strong, the other components of the system are phasing out. And when it finally decides that enough is enough, it’s gonna stop doing its job. And that means you’re gonna stop doing yours.

An idle press is money lost. A whole lot of money.

So if you’ve got one of these trusty old servo feed lines, be grateful it’s been serving you so well. Then do yourself a HUGE favor and take advantage of the Feed Lease in-plant equipment inspection. We’ll give it the well needed once-over to determine whether it’s time for a retrofit BEFORE the machine tells you by shutting down your factory. It’s preventative maintenance at its best.

The inspection can be scheduled at a time when a Feed Lease technician may already be planning to be your plant or factory. And because their control panels are not proprietary, they can perform the inspection on any servo feed machine, not just one from Feed Lease.

In fact, they recently did a retrofit on a competitor’s machine for one of their customers. The mechanics of the feed were good enough that the company didn’t want to do an entire new feed and Feed Lease happily stepped up to the job - retrofitting the competitor’s machine and saving their customer a significant amount of money.

The retrofit can be installed by you, if you’re comfortable doing it, or it can be done by Feed Lease.

The retrofit involves replacing the control panel, motor and drive, and the package includes operator control console/station, servo motor, remote jog control and belts and pulleys as required. It also comes with a 4-year warranty. Often times Feed Lease will perform the install because the customer may want some training. 

Whatever the case, Feed Lease wants to make it clean and simple to retrofit your existing machines whether it’s theirs or anybody else’s. So contact us or give us a call.

So if you have an older machine, NOW is the time.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Another Great Reason to Head to Mexico in February

This hardly seems post worthy, does it? Who needs any excuse to head to sunny Mexico in the cold, dark month of February? But here at Feed Lease, our motivation for heading south of the border strays from what most would consider traditional.

Sure, we’ll take advantage of the sun and the warmth and the enchiladas. We’re not crazy.

But we have an affinity for a part of Mexico you probably wouldn’t consider and it isn’t the sipping margaritas in a cantina part. It’s the metal stamping industry.

That’s why Feed Lease is happily heading to the PMA Metalforming Technology Conference in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, February 16-17 to connect with the great people in that industry.

Technology continues to play an increasingly important role in securing new business and minimizing cost in the metal stamping industry in Mexico - an industry that’s strong and thriving. There are numerous companies with a wide range of equipment and the ability to produce a broad range of component parts from a number of metals. Feed Lease is a worldwide company and we love working in Mexico to support the employees and manufacturers in this industry.

(And frankly, the beaches are nice.)

More importantly though, these conferences serve as educational forums with knowledgeable speakers and sponsors that help promote the continued growth and expansion of Mexico’s press stamping industry.

PMA has developed this event to arm senior Mexican business leaders and their key technical staff in Mexican facilities with the most updated information on numerous technology trends in the metal forming industry. All of which will help them increase operation productivity.

The Metalforming Technology Conference addresses topics such as mechanical presses and their components; safety considerations, maintenance procedures and schedules, as well as whether to replace or repair your press.

Other topics include preventive and predictive tool and die maintenance, sensors and die protection and lubrication systems and lubricants. The sessions are conducted in Spanish and will be developed for company executives as well as engineers, technicians and operators.

Feed Lease participates in quite a few of these educational conferences and we always find them to be informative and beneficial. Plus, we love connecting with our friends in Mexico. So get away from the cold for a few days and join us in Mexico. It’s going to be a good - and educational - time.

Hasta la vista.