Several years ago, Utex Industries, Inc. in Weimar, Texas approached French® with their need for a new integrated hydraulic press system to mold composite and rubber seals for the oil and gas industry. The system needed to allow flexibility in their existing process, increase production and also be adaptable to future business needs.
John Parker, Plant Engineer at Utex recalls of the design process, “French’s engineers worked with us over several years to develop the right solution for our needs. To help create a cross-functional solution we used data collected through years of productivity studies and input from our production and maintenance personnel. French developed many iterations that were critiqued and tweaked by our teams before the final automatic hydraulic press system emerged.”
Unfortunately, just as the new press cell concept was being finalized, a fire damaged numerous pieces of equipment at the Utex Weimar manufacturing facility. As a result of the fire, the project moved forward at an accelerated pace. Not only did Utex need to replace some of their lost production capability, but they also wanted to take a clean slate approach to dramatically improve their production with the new hydraulic press cells.
To fulfill Utex’s molding requirements, French incorporated multiple custom features to the automatic 350-ton sideplate hydraulic press system. In order to be adaptable to various changes in the production schedule, the press system has selectable programming to sequence the molding process based upon single or multiple operators and has both front and rear operation. The press cell accommodates one to four tools with quick tool exchanges (SMED concepts) and has the flexibility to run various tools from one to sixteen cavities. Selectable two or three piece mold shuttle, separation and part eject provides additional flexibility and consistent productivity. An integrated maintenance jib crane provides dedicated lifting capacity that allows quick service to any of the major hydraulic components. To further reduce overall downtime and maximize production utilization, the press system was designed with individually selectable press lockout and maintenance schedules.
“The automatic four-press cell design gave us a clean slate approach to our production process,” testifies Parker. “Since these presses have been in operation they have greatly improved our production levels and allowed us to consistently mold high quality components.”
French has been the industry technology and quality leader since 1900, serving customers in over 80 countries. The family-owned, ISO-certified company custom designs, manufactures and supports a wide assortment of stand-alone hydraulic presses and turnkey systems for the composite, friction, lamination and rubber industries. Press tonnages generally range from 20 to 2,000 tons, with various platen sizes, for compression, transfer, lamination or vacuum molding. French presses are well known for their superior value, very low deflection, rugged construction, long life and industry-leading three-year warranty, all of which optimize your process, improve part quality and give you the lowest life cycle costs. French is the parent company to TMP, A Division of French, who also offers hydraulic presses.