Birmingham Specialities is a multi-faceted engineering firm, committed to providing a complete manufacturing service. We have been operating in Birmingham for almost 100 years, and over this time we have developed a tried and tested approach to metalwork. We specialise in single operation and progression metal pressing and our presswork processes are at the center of everything we offer; from P-Clips to precision electrical components. This focus has allowed us to become experts in our field and made us the first choice across a wide range of industries when businesses are looking for a precision engineering company.
In this post we will further detail these two main presswork processes to help you better understand what we offer and how we can help with your current and future projects.
Single operation presswork utilises individual tools in separate presses. The metal is moved from station to station and a single set of features is added during each operation. Examples of features include: blanking the part, piercing a hole or multiple holes and forming a bend. Depending on the requirements, it may be possible to produce multiple features in one blow; for example, you might blank the part and pierce a set of holes at the same time.
Depending on the part being produced and the features required, it may only take one press and one tool to achieve the finished part. If multiple presses and tools are required, there are a number of ways to streamline this process. For example: presses can be run side by side with an operator at each press or a robot could be used to move material between each station. Simultaneous runs like this significantly reduce the number of work in progress parts as they don’t need to be stored between operations.
A single operation presswork would be expected to generate around 450 parts an hour, per operation, depending on the size and complexity of the piece.
As with all processes, there are advantages and disadvantages to be aware of. Blanks can be easily positioned in the tools and no complicated adjustments or calculations need to be made during setup. Each tool is typically low cost because the tooling is smaller, less complex and more accessible for maintenance.
However, there is also a high process cost because each machine must be maintained to industry standards, set by a qualified engineer and run by an operator. Since one part is being produced at a time, production can also be slower than with other presses and so there can be a longer lead time and higher overheads.
Single operation presswork is best suited to low and medium volume production of simple parts, as this is the sweet spot where it becomes the best value for money option.
Auto Feed And Progression Presswork
Progression presswork uses one complex tool with multiple stages to produce many forms, with the part progressing through the tool after each operation. Material is fed into the machine from a coil, rather than a single blank being loaded for each process, and a continuous stream of parts are produced. Our auto fed presses can complete up to 5,000 cycles per hour, depending on the size and complexity of the workpiece.
This type of presswork can be left to operate without being monitored and one press with one tool can produce a complete part in most cases.
As this is a bigger and more complex presswork process, it is also more expensive. There is a higher tooling cost because of the size and complexity of the tooling required, and because larger, more expensive presses are needed. If any element of the tooling needs to be repaired, production must be stopped until this is complete.
Despite these negatives, it can still be a very cost-effective method of production due to the speed at which large volumes of finished parts can be produced.
Here at Birmingham Specialities we have 30+ presses of various sizes, ranging from 5 to 160 tonnes. We use hydraulic, mechanical and pneumatic presses which ensures we have the right equipment to suit the volume, complexity and cost requirements of your project.
All of our presses are set and operated by fully trained staff and are maintained to industry standards. Our fully equipped toolroom and CNC machine shop allow us to design and manufacture the right tooling and processes to fully realise your needs. A range of ancillary operations such as riveting and surface finishing are also available, to provide a complete solution for your project.
Our second Birmingham-based location, which opened in 2019, has allowed us to further improve our offering, and has been a great investment for both ourselves and our customers. It has provided us with the additional space needed to purchase new equipment and to hold more stock, meeting the needs of our existing clients and opening possibilities for new clients. We serve individuals and businesses across a diverse range of industries, from commercial vehicles to telecommunications, and so having two facilities, and a larger space, has been hugely beneficial.
Our customers are at the centre of everything we offer and so we strive to provide any products and services you may require. We want to make it as easy as possible to acquire the end-product you desire, which is why we prioritise communication and place an emphasis on listening to our customers. We want to take the time to talk to you, learn about your requirements and your pain points, and provide a tailored service accordingly.
This has already greatly influenced our sales approach. We have recently begun trialling financing options that make partnering with us even easier, and help to reduce pressure and stress for our customers. Rather than paying the whole tooling cost at the outset, clients can pay an agreed upon sum in the beginning, and then amortise payment of the tooling among a set number of parts to help reduce the initial capex. This has already proven really effective in maintaining productive working relationships and in securing new customers and partnerships.
We also offer a limited stock-holding capacity for our clients, further helped by our additional location. This is hugely beneficial: it allows clients access to their parts as and when they need them, and takes away the burden of storing large quantities of unused parts. This is just one aspect of our vision for the future, wherein engineering and manufacturing is more accessible, flexible and effective than ever before.
We are incredibly passionate about our presswork processes, and about meeting the needs of our diverse customer base. At Birmingham Specialties, we are willing to go the extra mile to ensure your project runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.