EXP® tooling helps pizza oven manufacturer save costs and time on custom part runs

“The EXP® punch tips cost us about two times less than standard tooling.”


One of the timeless classics of American cuisine, pizza reigns among adventurous foodies and cautious diners alike when it comes to go-to grub. Whether Chicago or New York, thick or thin crust, pepperoni or peaches for toppings, perfecting the pie is essential for restaurants around the country.

As demand for better and more inventive equipment continues to rise, Edge Ovens meets the needs of the oven-baked pizza industry by accommodating custom orders. The Pennsylvania shop manufactures complete conveyor ovens at their Dunbar facility, which is owned and operated by MF&B Restaurant Systems, Inc. (MF&B).

“We try to please all of our customers as much as we can,” said Jeremie Pastorius, manufacturing manager with MF&B. “Which means we will go out of our way to make special parts when we receive those requests.”

While keeping customers happy is vital, making custom parts doesn’t come without its challenges. Meeting demand and producing special orders while maintaining standard production and minimizing downtime can often become a balancing act for large and small manufacturers alike. Storage space, tool life and speed of production are all factors that can help maximize outcomes when it comes to custom parts.

Saving space.

Under most circumstances, a custom job is going to require one or more unique tools. Once that job is complete, however, finding storage space for large-sized tooling that may have only been used once can be challenging. Add on extra costs for purchasing entire tool sets for a single use and that can create all kinds of operational frustrations.

“When we’re running a custom part, we often needed to order special tools,” Pastorius said. “If we have to purchase a full-bodied tool, that means we need the tool holder and the whole nine yards – that can get expensive. Then we have a big tool laying around, taking up space and we only used it for one job.”

To make the most of storage space and maintain cost consciousness while meeting demand for custom parts, Pastorius learned about a technology that provided tooling in a standard holder with universal punches. Called EXP® Punch Technology from Minnesota-based Wilson Tool, the technology is designed for thick and thin turret punch presses.

“The EXP® punch tips cost us about two times less than the standard tooling,” Pastorius said. “Plus, we’ve gained about 40 percent more space in our storage areas. We just have the tip, the die and the stripper, which also costs less than half the price of full-bodied tools.”

The proprietary design is available for use in both A and B station thick turret assemblies as well as A and B station Ultra, B station FAB, and MTX Multi-tools. The universal punches can be used with all types of guide assemblies, and individual punch configurations include rounds, shapes and specials, and other options for fabricators.

Less grinding. More efficiencies.

Grinding tools involves time and labor, all of which can impact smooth operations. What’s more, regular grinding requirements can have an adverse effect on maintaining production while factoring in custom orders. Pastorius and MF&B faced challenges when running custom parts after experiencing the need for repeated grinding and significant tool breakage when using full-bodied tools.

“After a tool has experienced repeated grinding, entire assemblies can become out of adjustment,” he said. “When an assembly is out of adjustment, there is much greater risk for breaking the tool and wasting the sheet.”

Broken tools and wasted sheet metal are faults that require time and labor to fix and costs incurred as a result can add up quickly. Pastorius found a solution in the universal punch tips, because he and his operators found they provide a longer grind life.

“The grind life is phenomenal,” he said. “I have quite a few tips with hundreds of thousands of hits on them, and probably at least two or three with over a million and it’s still the same tip. As long as we keep them sharp, they just keep punching. Whenever we grind the tips, we can easily adjust the holder, so every time we grind even just a little bit, we’ve got a brand new tool until the actual holder is out of adjustment.”

While Pastorius indicated it often takes a long time for a job to reach the point where the holder is out of adjustment, MF&B found a simple solution in the punch tips for helping maintain proper adjustment. When operators do find that a tip needs to be sharpened or replaced they simply swap out the old tip for a new one. This saves time and costs as opposed to buying a new full-bodied tool, plus helps prevent unnecessary downtime and maintenance costs by risking tool breakage and a wasted sheet by running the job with a dull tip.

“I have a spare tip in my drawer for every tip we use,” Pastorius said. “So if one needs sharpening and we’re in a hurry, I just put in a brand new tip and we’re ready to go. Then whenever I get a few minutes, I sharpen it and put it back in the drawer and it’s like a brand new tool, ready to go for next time.”

Changeover in these situations can often be just as fast as pulling a new tip out of a drawer. The process of switching out EXP® universal punch tips includes pushing a tip into the holder and turning a key to lock it into place.

“For a custom job, whether we’re using the punch tips for 1,000 hits, 10,000 hits or two hits, it takes us about 40 seconds to switch in the new tip,” he said. “When we’re done with the custom job, we just take the tip off, put it back in the drawer and put the standard tool back in. We’re back up running standard orders that quickly.”

Conserving time, space and costs.

Of all the production benefits Pastorius and MF&B have experienced by using the universal punch tips, storage, speed and cost effectiveness have helped the manufacturer meet the need for custom parts. That translates to happy customers, smoother production and more profitable operations.

“The tips save on storage and are more economical because the initial cost is lower than full-bodied tools,” Pastorius said. “Plus, we can replace a tip in no time and we’re ready to go. Saving all of this time and money helps our business, and generates savings and efficiencies we can pass on to our customers.”

January 20, 2017