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Industry News
Chinese-built hydraulic presses make big impression

The presses, possibly the largest of their kind in North America, are more than 30 feet tall and will be used for processing sheet molding compound (SMC).

Author:
Posted on: 2/5/2010
Source: Composites Technology

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Ashley Industrial Molding Inc. (Ashley, Ind.) has begun molding operations with three massive new 4,000-ton Gib-Guided hydraulic compression molding presses recently installed at its new plant in Oelwein, Iowa. A custom molder of sheet molding compound (SMC) and resin injection molding (RIM)-processed components for the agricultural, industrial, construction, forestry and military markets, Ashley took delivery on the presses from Greenerd Press & Machine Co. Inc. (Nashua, N.H.), the exclusive North American sales/service agent for the press builder, Tianjin, China-based Tianjin Tianduan Press Co. Ltd. Presses were built, in part, using American-made parts that were imported from the U.S. for the press’ vital operational components. They are the largest compression molding machines Greenerd has ever delivered, the biggest that Ashley has operated and possibly the largest compression molding presses yet installed in North America.

The machines feature Allen Bradley Industrial PC Versa View 6181P-12TPXPH with Win XP Software with touch-screen controls that provide recipe storage, trending, diagnostics and Ethernet communication. The controls allow the operator to access feedback on each part in a run, troubleshoot any problems and adjust tonnages and speed as necessary, identify the most efficient way to produce a part, and reduce cycle times. The controls reportedly provide Ashley with something it’s never had before — the ability to serialize each part, which opened up new business opportunities for the company. In addition, the Ethernet communication will allow Ashley to monitor production at the Iowa plant from its Indiana headquarters.

Each press weighs about 500 metric tonnes (more than 1.1 million lb). Delivering them was a logistical challenge. After they were disassembled in China, the hydraulic presses took up 60 percent of an ocean freighter. They were then shipped on three barges up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Dubuque, Iowa. From there, the pieces were delivered to the 135,000 ft2 (12,540m2) Oelwein plant in August 2009 on 53 semi-trailer truckloads, then re-assembled and installed onsite by Greenerd technicians. The finished presses tower 34 ft/10.4m above and extend 11 ft/3.6m below the shop floor.

“Greenerd had all three presses assembled, installed and in production in just 60 days,” says Scott Pflughoeft, VP of manufacturing at Ashley. “They stayed on site, fine-tuning the programming and making adjustments, until everything was running smoothly.”

The presses will be used to produce large body panels for agricultural equipment, including 8000- and 9000-series tractors for John Deere (Moline, Ill.).

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