Stamping Operation Uses Unique Custom Zig-Zag Feeder

Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing in-house design decreases maintenance time and costs.

Many stampers use staggered, or zig-zag, feeders to process raw materials of suboptimal dimensions. These feeders stagger the material as it is fed through the die.

Companies like Phoenix Speciality Manufacturing, a manufacturer of washers, shims and precision stampings, use these feeders on their machines to produce better yields. However, these feeders are not without their weaknesses.

“While we always ensured we used the highest quality feeders from companies, sending these feeders off for repair or routine maintenance was very costly,” said Russell Hurst, operations manager at Phoenix.

The Phoenix team recognized that staggered feeders from third party companies were not achieving the most efficient manufacturing life cycle. A significant upgrade to Phoenix’s feeders was required to improve operations and streamline the manufacturing process.

So rather than continue to utilize third party staggered feeders, Phoenix decided to develop their own version of the technology, moving maintenance and repair jobs in-house.

In-house Redesign of Staggered Feeders

Maintenance technician Lance Cramer first took an interest in developing an improved solution for how the feeders operated in 2013. Cramer, well-versed in PLC programming, proposed designing, building and programming a complete machine specific to the Phoenix Specialty business.

The new feeder was designed and built in-house, utilizing both off-the-shelf and custom-built components that were fabricated and inventoried within the company’s own maintenance fabrication shop.

Cramer’s in-house feeders allow for a fully internalized operation for the company’s entire manufacturing process.

Rather than continually working around repairs and maintenance, the new feeders can be maintained in-house without shipping out for repairs. All required work – including electronic assembly, wiring and programming – are now handled by internal Phoenix Specialty maintenance personnel.

Additionally, the new feeders can be built for 1/3 the cost of off-the-shelf units, allowing the company to aggressively deploy the feeders throughout the facility.

The new feeders began formal operation in December of 2015. The company claims the new design has already shown improvements in both efficiency and ease of use.

“Being the fastest requires that the company maintain a large selection of raw material inventory,” Hurst said. “Having feeders that can get the most yield allows Phoenix to manufacture and ship product before most companies have even received the material.”

For more information on Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing, visit their website here.

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