NSI contacted Wayne Trail, a Lincoln Electric company, for advice about how to fix the issues with their existing tube bender. After further discussion and review of their bending process, Wayne Trail explained that replacement of the automated tube manufacturing cell was only part of what needed to happen to fix their manufacturing process. They recommended replacement of the weld fixture into which the bent trailer hitch fit, and educated NSI about the importance of ensuring that the bent materials were meeting required tolerances. The previous bender had been unable to withstand the forces required to bend the large-diameter, thick-wall tube, which caused problems with maintaining the necessary tolerances.
“The fitting of parts into a weld fixture is important, as it enables the tube assembly to be welded correctly,” said Mike Bollheimer, product manager at Wayne Trail. “Our team that built the bending equipment worked hand in hand with the team that built the weld fixture. This was a benefit to Northern Stamping since the Wayne Trail equipment could now assume sole responsibility for how the tube was formed and how it fit in the weld fixture.” The previous system had been built by two separate contractors – one for the bender and one for the weld fixtures.
In the end, Wayne Trail not only resolved the frequent equipment failures and resulting down-time in the tube bending process, but they also enhanced the overall system by opening up options for future processing needs. Wayne Trail looked into the entire process and what NSI needed to be successful in the industry.
“Wayne Trail worked closely with NSI in the handling of several design changes over the course of the project build,” said Jeff Baxter, automation engineer, NSI. “When there was a change, and sample parts were required to do further testing, Wayne Trail helped by providing prototypes.”