If you are looking for any machine that will run using coils, you no doubt need an uncoiler or decoiler.
Investing in capital equipment is an undertaking that requires you to consider many factors and features. Do you need a machine that meets current manufacturing needs, or do you want to invest in next-generation features? These are questions shop owners ask themselves all the time when purchasing a roll former. However, far less attention is given to investigating the uncoiler. Tube Mill Equipment
If you are looking for any machine that will run using coils, you no doubt need an uncoiler (or decoiler, as it is sometimes referred to). Whether you have roll forming, stamping, or slitting lines, an uncoiler is required to unroll the coil for the next process; there really is no other way to do it. Ensuring that the uncoiler meets your shop and project needs is essential in keeping the roll former forming, because without the material the machine cannot operate.
The industry has changed a lot over the past 30 years, but uncoilers have always been designed based on specifications from the steel coil industry. Thirty years ago steel coils had a standard outer diameter (OD) of 48 in. As machines became more customized and projects required different options, coils were adapted to 60 in. and then to 72 in. And today fabricators occasionally use upwards of 84-in. coils. So uncoilers have had to be adapted to fit the changing coil ODs.
Uncoilers are used everywhere in the roll forming industry. Today’s roll formers have more features and capabilities than their predecessors had. For example, 30 years ago a roll former could operate at 50 ft. per minute (FPM). Now they can run up to 500 FPM. This change in roll forming production has also increased capabilities and the base range of uncoiler options. It’s not enough to just pick any standard uncoiler; a lot of factors and features need to be considered to ensure that shop needs are met.
Uncoiler manufacturers offer a variety of options to ensure roll forming processes can be optimized. Today’s uncoilers range from 1,000 lbs. to more than 60,000 lbs. When choosing an uncoiler, keep these specifications in mind:
You also need to consider what type of projects you will be taking on and the material you will be using.
It all depends on what you’re going to be running on the roll former, including whether the coil is prepainted, galvanized, or stainless steel. These specifications will all determine what uncoiler features you will need.
For example, standard uncoilers are singleended, but having a double-ended uncoiler can reduce material handling wait times. Having two mandrels allows the operator to load a second coil on the machine, ready to be processed when needed. This is especially helpful in situations where operators are constantly having to change over coils.
Fabricators often don’t realize how useful an uncoiler is until they realize that, depending on the size of the coil, they can have changeovers six to eight times or more per day. Having a second coil ready and waiting on the machine eliminates the immediate need for a forklift or crane to load a coil once the first one is out of material. An uncoiler performs a critical function in roll forming environments, especially in large-run operations where the machine may be forming parts across an eight-hour shift.
Knowing your current specifications and capabilities is important when investing in an uncoiler. However, it’s also important to think about the future use of the machine and what possible future projects will be on the roll former. These are all factors that need to be considered accordingly and really help to determine the proper uncoiler.
A coil car helps to load the coil onto the mandrel, eliminating the need to wait for a crane or a forklift to do it.
Opting for a larger mandrel means that you can run a smaller coil on the machine. So, if you opt for a 24-in. mandrel, you can run anything less than this. If you want to jump to a 36-in. option, then you need to invest in a larger uncoiler. It’s important to look to future opportunities.
Safety is a major concern on the shop floor as coils have become larger and heavier. Uncoilers have large, fast-moving parts, so operators must be trained on how the machine works as well as its correct setup.
Coils today can range from 33 to 250 kilopounds per square inch, and the uncoiler has been adapted to meet the demands in the yield strength of the coil. Heavier coils present bigger safety challenges especially when cutting the strap. Hold-down arms and snubber rolls are included on the machine to ensure the coil unwinds only on demand. The machine also can include feed-up drives and a side shift base to help centre the coil for the next process.
As coils get heavier, it becomes much harder to expand the mandrel manually. Hydraulic expanded mandrels and rotation capabilities are commonly requested as shops move operators away from the uncoiler for safety reasons and into other areas of the shop floor. Shock absorbers can be added to minimize uncoiler rotational abuse.
Depending on the process and speed, additional safety features might be required. These features include an outward coil retainer to prevent the coil from falling down, a monitoring system for the OD and RPM of the coil, and a unique braking system like water-cooled brakes for lines running at high speeds. These are all important to help ensure that when the roll forming process stops, the uncoiler also stops.
If you take on a job using multiple coloured materials, special uncoilers are available that offer five mandrels, meaning you can have five different coils resting on the machine at a time. The operator can make a few hundred pieces of one colour and then switch to a second colour without spending time unloading the coil and switching it over.
Another feature is a coil car, which helps to load the coil onto the mandrel. This ensures the operator doesn’t need to wait for a crane or a forklift to load it.
It’s important to take the time to investigate the different options available for the uncoiler. With adjustable mandrels to accommodate coils with varying inside diameters, and several size options for the coil back plate, you have many factors to consider to find the right fit. Making a list of current and potential specifications will help you to determine the necessary features.
A roll former, like any other machine, is making money only when it’s operating. Choosing the right uncoiler for you shop’s current and future needs will help your roll former operate more efficiently and safely.
Jaswinder Bhatti is vice-president of applications engineering for Samco Machinery, 351 Passmore Ave., Toronto, Ont. M1V 3N8, 416-285-0619, www.samco-machinery.com.
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