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Design Decisions: Automation in Rollforming
3/4/2013

A machine operator setting up a rollforming machine.
A machine operator setting up a rollforming machine.

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bobjengr
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ROLLFORMING
bobjengr   3/6/2013 3:51:11 PM
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Excellent article Dylan.  Rollforming is a very old technology but one that has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.  The advent of machinery that will completely automate the roll forming process is available--at a price.  Set-up, of course, is dependent upon knowledgeable individuals  who know the equipment.   Some months ago I visited a company that manufactures corrugated roofing panels.  Their rollforming operation was a real eye-opener.  The speed at which the material was formed was absolutely amazing and the product was definitely well within specifications and tolerances.  I can't remember the number of feet produced each minute but the main impediment was storing the inventory.  They actually had two buildings for this.   As I recall, they produced six or seven colors using pre-painted material.  This company fabricated and maintained their own dies.  The owner indicated it was a real specialty and trusted no one to do that job.  Again, great article.

TJ McDermott
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High levels of automation mean...
TJ McDermott   3/6/2013 11:13:07 AM
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High levels of automation mean the skills needed to maintain the equipment are also of a higher nature.

Even with the best-intentioned managers who pay for good maintenance training, not using the skills learned means they atrophy.  When it comes time to use the skills, they're only vague memories.

Getting good service might mean hiring outside specialists (from the manufacturer possibly), leading to longer down-times.

I'm not being luddite about this - I'm simply pointing out what comes along with automation.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Automation in Rollforming
Elizabeth M   3/5/2013 6:14:36 AM
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Thanks for the informative article about something I haven't given much thought to until now, nor knew much about! It does make sense to move to automation in many industries, that's for certain. As, apresher said, it definitely isn't the other way around! And humans can be repurposed more effectively based on the processes machines take over...hopefully, anyway, rather than being displaced.

apresher
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Automation in Rollforming
apresher   3/4/2013 5:07:56 PM
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Good article.  Higher levels of automation is generally a job preserver and creator, and a way to achieve productivity, quality and cost improvements. There certainly isn't a trend to more manual labor in manufacturing.  Thanks.

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