Balconi Presseccentriche

A technological “giant” for the automotive

foto 5bassa
Giacomo Pavesi, technical-sales manager of Balconi Presseccentriche S.p.A. at Varedo (MB).

A “Made in Italy” press weighing 1600 tons has been manufactured for the Chinese branch of an important supplier of car companies.  With excellent results.

 Canton (or Guangzhou, in Chinese) is a very ancient city, whose origins date back even to 200 b. C. It currently counts almost 13 million inhabitants; it is the third Chinese city by importance after Shanghai and Beijing, and it is an economic centre of primary importance thanks to the presence of big manufacturing industries. Among them there is Snop Automotive Parts, productive subsidiary of Snop, French Group of world relevance operating in the implementation of parts, components, instruments and equipment for the automotive industry. In the Canton factory, in particular, Snop carries out the activity of sheet metal forming for the implementation of structural parts of cars, for the major international automotive companies. Concerning this, it has recently invested in a really special machine produced by Balconi Presseccentriche S.p.A. headquartered at Varedo (MB), Italian excellence enterprise specialized in the manufacturing of mechanical presses and servo-presses featuring high precision and absolute reliability. Giacomo Pavesi, technical-sales manager of the Lombard company, narrates this important success of the “Made in Italy”: «In the Chinese branch of Snop they produce the frame and the structural parts of cars. We are therefore talking about an enormous production of pieces, differing for sizes and shape, generally made of demanding materials like high strength steels, so widely used in the automotive industry nowadays». For that reason, Snop Automotive Parts in Guangzhou decided, in 2012, to invest in a forefront press weighing 1600 tons and standing out for high flexibility and efficiency. Pavesi: «The search for local suppliers did not lead to a satisfactory result, also because an “Asian” machine, with perhaps “appealing” cost but probably less technological and sturdy than necessary, would have offered scarce guarantees of efficiency, quality and precision in time, as well as little automation possibilities ». The pursuit of reliability and automation in a notoriously competitive Country for the low labour cost might seem contradictory. «It is however – goes on Pavesi – like that; evidently, today, also for Chinese subcontractors it starts being more important, for instance, to work with an automated press that grants precise pieces in time rather than with a machine easily subjected to wear and/or needing greater personnel employment ». For that reason, Chinese decided to turn to Balconi, historical supplier of the French parent company, for which it has already manufactured about 100 presses.

An operator of Balconi in the eccentric gear assembly phase with link drive system.
An operator of Balconi in the eccentric gear assembly phase with link drive system.

Highest flexibility and sturdiness
The machine implemented by Balconi Presseccentriche for Snop Automotive Parts of Guangzhou is a 1600-ton press called “4DMRF-LD”, supplied with transfer and feeding line for strips with maximum width of 1850 mm. Giacomo Pavesi describes its main characteristics: «It is a big-size machine, weighing more than 450 tons and equipped with 5500 x 2500 mm worktable, able to implement parts with big sizes and complex shapes, also with deep drawings, not only with follow dies but also with electronic three-axis transfer ». The double operational configuration with follow dies and transfer, combined with the possibility of machining sheet metals of whatever material, with width included between 200 and 1850 mm, confers utmost flexibility to the press. Giacomo Pavesi: «In the case of transfer use, the machine receives the material “cut” by a shears, supplied with the machine, which works at the same rate as the press. Depending on the type of piece to be carried out, the shears can be quickly equipped with a different blade, so that the sheet metal can be cut in the appropriate shape: in rectangles, in semicircle, like  a “Z”, etc.  The piece is then transferred to the first transfer station, where a hydraulic bearing featuring 200 tons of pressure, adjustable from the operator panel “in stroke and position”, allows forming the material in the most opportune manner, dosing the bearing force and thus avoiding tears. Afterwards the piece prosecutes its “path” in the other stations of the transfer, up to obtaining the finished part». The machine has kinematics with slide “slowdown” in the piece forming phase, to permit a smoother and more homogeneous forming to the high strength material, without decreasing the number of parts produced per minute. The PLC allows managing the programming through the control panel, which can store and recall the code filed in the “die receipt” where are saved all the production parameters of the feeding line, of the transfer and of the shears. «Other outstanding characteristics of the 4DMRF-LD press – adds Giacomo Pavesi – are the excellent sturdiness and the great rigidity of the structure, qualities that allow implementing pieces of high precision, which preserves also the service life of dies, which are also very complex and therefore also very expensive, with the use of high strength materials, too ».

Great satisfaction
Manufacturing the “4DMRF-LD” press needed one year of work, without considering the transport, – long and expensive – until the installation of the whole plant at the Guangzhou factory. Pavesi: «It was a really important work, successfully accomplished in compliance with the very short terms imposed by Snop, which needed to use the machine as soon as possible to satisfy a very important customer». It is known that the automotive world is changing, since today big-size batches are increasingly infrequent: «Automotive industries – explains Pavesi – today demand for a great variety of parts but in small batches. This means that plants and machines must be able to change quickly and automatically the production programme, in order to avoid idle times, long manual interventions for adjustments and tooling and so on. That’s why a press like 4DMRF-LD, purposely studied to be versatile and to change the piece to be produced continuously, allows users to be faster and more competitive ». Not only: «The line – goes on Giacomo Pavesi – fully complies with the safety standards imposed by the European safety regulations, directives that are much more severe than those today in force in the Far East; besides, it is strongly automated, that’s to say fully manageable and programmable by the control panel, able to self-adjust automatically at the changeover, then drastically reducing the labour use». Not by chance, even if it has been operating for very short time, the machine already works on three shifts with utmost safety and precision. James Zhang, director of Snop Guangzhou, expressed his greatest satisfaction for the results obtained, honestly beyond the rosiest expectations. Also because, thanks to the in-depth personnel training carried out by Balconi, the user friendliness, the high automation degree and the high reliability, the customer was immediately able to use the plant autonomously, obtaining he best  in terms of efficiency and flexibility.

The 4DMRF-LD press, weighing 1600 tons, by Balconi Presseccentriche installed at the factory of Guangzhou of Snop Automotive Parts.
The 4DMRF-LD press, weighing 1600 tons, by Balconi Presseccentriche installed at the factory of Guangzhou of Snop Automotive Parts.

A single target: customer satisfaction
Balconi Presseccentriche, obviously, took care of the line installation by the customer, first of all providing for the ship transport that, for a machine like that, was really exceptional. Giacomo Pavesi: «We took care of everything, also of the unnerving entry customs practices. It was a really complex and dedicated work, which we have anyway accomplished at best until its completion. The customer, to which we asked the only effort of making the necessary space available, was really satisfied». Also because, once installed and tested, the press was “entrusted” by Balconi operators to Snop technicians after over one month of support, that’s so say of operational running-in and training “on the field”. «On the other hand – specifies Pavesi – it is a complex and innovative line, and a certain training period was necessary to learn its functioning». Not only: the line – which is managed by PLC – can be “remotely” controlled also through swivelling tele-cameras equipped with zoom for the “visual” control of the production in strategic points. Giacomo Pavesi comments with deep satisfaction: «We grant the teleservice 24 hours a day to our Chinese customer. Nevertheless, the plant is so reliable and safe that, since the day of its commissioning, it has never been necessary to activate an extraordinary service».

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