There aren’t many jobs Tenere, Inc. will turn down. The Wisconsin-based job shop runs a production mix of parts that is 100 percent customized for any number of industries. From IT and medical to military and aerospace, the fabricator delivers part runs and complete assemblies for OEMs and direct customers alike.
“We do everything from smaller medical parts to larger IT data centers and just about any type of component in between. It gives our shop tremendous variety and versatility for our customers,” said Jason Tempel, manufacturing engineer at Tenere, which has been in business for more than 50 years.
With facilities in Dresser and Osceola, Wisc., as well as a plastics division in Colorado and a sheet metal fabrication operation in Mexico, Tenere serves its customers with a variety of product offerings and capabilities. Like many job shops, however, the lack of skilled labor and need to quickly adapt to different customers and different part runs often creates operational inefficiencies, which can negatively impact the bottom line.
“Our goal is to keep all of our products at a high quality standard and meet our customers’ deadlines,” Tempel said. “We need the flexibility to adapt and roll with new jobs and new demands, but with the shortage of skilled labor, achieving that nimbleness on a regular basis can be a challenge.”
Rivets and countersinking tools
Having worked with turret coining operations for more than 20 years, Tenere sought to improve countersinking methods when making rivets, which have been a major form feature for many of the company’s parts and assemblies throughout the years. The downside of rivets, however, is that they naturally require a secondary operation. While a drill press is often the method of choice for finishing these holes, operators at Tenere often performed the work by hand. The process involved punching the hole, drilling the sink, and de-burring the finished part.
“Back when we first developed our coining operations more than 20 years ago, many of the rivets would have been hand cut, or we would have approached customers with different design features, such as bolted panels or other types of attachment styles,” Tempel said. “Both the handwork and redesigns took a significant amount of time. That changed, however, when we implemented more advanced countersinking tools and practices throughout the last several years.”
Working with Minnesota-based Wilson Tool International – throughout a 20-plus-year professional relationship – Tenere implemented new countersinking tools and techniques, which allowed the fabricator to create the entire rivet form in the punch press, cutting production time by half or even more. Made up of a forming punch and die, the countersink tools additionally chamfer the top of the hole to eliminate the burred edge.
“We do so much rivet driving, especially with our customers in the technology field, and we’ve come to rely on the countersinking tools to maximize what we can get out of our turret machines and use every feature possible,” Tempel said. “Plus, the entire process saves significant time and labor, which has positively impacted our bottom line over the years.”
Designed for coining and forming operations in form-up or form-down styles, the countersink tools are compatible with most types of punch presses, including thick turret, thin turret, Trumpf and Wiedemann machines. The most common type of station used is the B station; however fabricators can normally purchase countersink tools for A, C, D, and E station sizes in up- or down-form versions.
Reducing secondary operations
In an effort to tackle the skilled labor shortage and production inefficiencies, Tempel and his team sought to make the most of their part runs by implementing advanced techniques and special countersink tooling styles, which helped streamline production on the punch press and minimize the need for secondary operations downstream, especially the labor-intensive handwork. The new techniques and special tooling not only provided operational efficiencies, but also brought consistencies on the punch press, which hadn’t been achieved in the past.
“With all the handwork that negatively impacted our production efficiencies in the past, we needed to do anything to gain our efficiencies back,” he said. “Throughout the years, that process included identifying common materials and common punching within the product lines, and making the most of our forming features on the punch press with countersink tools.”
Unlike many shops that tend to have a balance of laser and traditional presses for punching operations, Tenere owns and operates 12 turret machines and just two laser machines.
“We realized that by creating form features on our turret machines with the countersink tooling, that method kept the need for secondary operations down,” Tempel said. “With this strategy the parts come off the turret complete – after forming the rivets and deburring the hole in one operation on the punch press. The countersink tools save us significant dollars on time and labor by eliminating the need for secondary operations.”
Consistency, repeatability and savings
Holding the geometry of each design is an important consideration for any job shop. If the consistency isn’t there, then parts need to be re-run or reworked, often delaying projects, wasting materials and causing other downtime factors that eat quickly into revenues and efficiencies.
“Holding the geometries of the design is a huge benefit of the countersinking tools,” Tempel said. “When we punch the design in, we’ve found that the tools hold those numbers consistently and we see repeatability with the tools, especially in high-volume runs.”
By implementing more refined punch press strategies, Tenere was able to sidestep the skilled labor shortage, achieve more nimble practices and gain efficiencies in the shop. At the same time, the company added a style of tooling and advanced practices at the punch press that delivered higher quality parts with greater consistency and stronger tools with greater repeatability.
“Staffing is still a challenge, but with the countersink tooling, we have gained considerably more flexibility in our shop, which we have seen over the years on a daily basis. We also have the ability to do more on our punch presses with fewer secondary operations, which positively affects the labor challenges,” Tempel said. “Consistency is a huge benefit as well, as it repeatability. But the biggest benefits are the production efficiencies and overall costs savings.”
June 08, 2017