Most steel component manufacturers know the problems of changing from one product to the next on a roll forming line.
Whether one is producing steel studs, joists, tracks, roof trusses, zee and cee purlins, there are usually the hours of downtime, the fact that no sellable product is being made during that changeover, those fussy roll tooling and die setups, the lack of trained skilled operators who can get the part right, the half coil or full coil in the scrap bucket from the setup, and the list goes on. Even changes in the material thickness can cause downtime for a rollforming line such as going from 20-gauge to 12-gauge on the same product profile. The good news is that there is a better way with today’s rollforming equipment.
One of the fastest ways to change from one product to the next when there are differences only in the web or middle area of the profile is the introduction of a duplex rollformer. The duplex rollformer has its roll tooling split with one half of the tooling permanently mounted on the inboard side of the mill; and the other half of the tooling on the outboard side of the mill. This can be done with a “stub-shaft” design or with “thru-shaft” design where the inboard and outboard portions of the mill glide towards or away from each other. These mills can be designed to have the inboard side of the mill in a fixed inboard position and the outboard side doing the gliding; or it can be centerline-compatible as seen in most of the steel stud and track lines used in the steel framing industry. Changing from a 3-5/8″ web stud to a 6″ web stud is literally at the touch of a button.
In addition to the duplex mills, there is the field-proven flexibility of the double-duplex rollforming mill. Here the mill has an upstream duplex rollformer followed immediately by a downstream duplex rollformer-usually on the same mill base. The first mill will control the flange or leg height simply by gliding in and out. The second mill will control the web width in the same manner. This allows special rollformer such as the Studmaker to make changes to the flange height or the web width or both-without lifting a finger. The latest rollforming innovations now also include changing from one shape A to shape B at the touch of a button. Some rollformers such as the Purlinmaster can rollform cee purlins and, in seven (7) seconds, can change the tooling to rollform zee purlins. The additional feature of Auto-Gauging is also allowing the operator to change from one thickness of coil to another thickness without touching the equipment at all. It is simply selected at the operator control console. With new developments in the today’s rollformers, roll changeover may not be the problem it once was.