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Question and Answer

How do I begin a maintenance program for my stamping and die cutting equipment?

by Staff

August-September, 1995
Having an extensive maintenance program in place is a critical necessity for any size finishing company. The price for new or used equipment combined with the demands of today's customers has propelled maintenace into one of the most vital functions of any operating plant.

Where do I start?
To begin with, proper maintenance procedures should be provided by the manufacturer or supplier of your press. Rather than receiving a maintenance manual and having it thrown in the back of a drawer, an entire day or even more should be dedicated to having the company who sold you the press go over specific maintenance procedures with both your operators and maintenance staff (if separate). Even if you do not have separate maintenance personnel, a supervisor or manager should be assigned to regulate the up-keep of each piece of equipment.

Once your staff has been properly educated on proper maintenance procedures, a complete program must be put in place. The program should include daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly procedures. Create a spreadsheet with the procedures down the far left-hand column and when you should perform each procedure across the top row (daily, weekly, etc.). This should be provided to all operators and maintenance personnel and attached to the wall or to each press it pertains to.

To implement this type of program, you may want to set up a preventative maintenance team to determine the maintenance check list for your machinery. This team should record program schedules for each piece of equipment. The history will reveal the type of maintenance required and the parts most likely to fail. Those parts should be inventoried for quick and easy replacement.

What should be included?
With the help of several technical experts in the industry, InsideFinishing has put together an operator checklist for stamping and die cutting equipment. This is a general list of basic procedures. As stated previously, it is recommended to follow the program provided by the press manufacturer or supplier.

Basic Operator Maintenance Check List:

  • Only have properly trained personnel maintain and operate the equipment.
  • Check for loose parts, bolts, etc., before operating the press.
  • Vacuum any waste around or inside the press.
  • Lubricate strategic points (do not use penetrating fluid as a lubricant. It is not recommended because these fluids are usually water-based and can cause rusting. Always use oil or grease to lubricate necessary parts).
  • Clean photo sensors, photo-electric cells, and other safety devices before starting up your equipment.
  • Perform a visual check of correct oil levels.
  • Check that all filters are clean and replace if necessary.
  • Do not operate equipment beyond recommended tonnage (available from the manufacturer).

The suggestions above point out specific procedures an operator should follow before beginning each shift on press. It is also recommended that time be set aside at least once a month for more detailed preventative maintenance of your machinery. These procedures include more extensive ones, as the above, as well as others that are recommended by the manufacturer. The maintenance should be closely planned with the production department to schedule press down time for maintenance and repairs around customer jobs. It is also highly recommended to schedule one or two visits per year by a specialist from the company that sold the machine. This is an ideal time to enhance your maintenance skills and to be brought up-to-date on any possible improvements available for your existing equipment.

For many companies, equipment maintenance is a headache that never seems to happen until it has to - the press breaks down! Through implementing a thorough, specific maintenance program, you will soon find how easy it is to transform what is often considered a burden into a powerful asset for your company and your customers.

InsideFinishing would like to thank Justo Martin, Director - Technical Services of Bobst Group Inc. (201) 226-8000, and Jim Kingsby of JK Hot Stamp Consultants (913) 764-4947 for their contributions to this article.