A lot of time and effort often goes into finding the right equipment for your facility. Purchasing a new automatic cutting machine is no different. With so many options, where does one start? Asking these five questions during the decision-making process will help ensure you end up with equipment that fits all of your needs.
Will my new cutting and stripping machine be flexible enough to process all of my current and future applications?
Unless you will be running the same few jobs day in and day out, you’ll want a machine that is as flexible as possible. It is best to focus on the extreme ends of the application range in regards to wire and cable size. For example, if the largest wire you currently process is 10 AWG, determine if there is a chance you will need to process 8 AWG or larger wires in the future. You should also determine if there is a chance you will require advanced features like a multi-blade cutter head (for processing multi-conductor cable jackets and inner conductors) or a rotary incision unit to make radial incisions through the various cable-layers when processing coaxial and other multi-layer cables. Being prepared for future needs will allow you to get the most out of your purchase.
How long will changeovers take and are tools required?
Most modern cutting and stripping machines are fully programmable, however, there are always several job specific mechanical parts (guide tubes, blades, etc.) that have to be changed between jobs. Changeover times can be minimized if these changes can be accomplished without requiring tools. The smaller your batch size, the more frequent your changeovers will be. A wire stripping machine with shorter changeover times will provide a quicker ROI and continue to pay dividends over the life of the machine.
What is a realistic production rate that I can expect with my new cutting and stripping machine?
When comparing datasheets for several different wire cutting and stripping machines, you will sometimes see a specification listed for Maximum Transport Speed. A high maximum transport speed does not always correlate to a high production rate, unless you are running longer lengths. The cutting axis and other machine specifications all contribute to the machine cycle time, so it is better to focus on the Maximum Production Rate listed for each wire length and application. It is always best to send wire or cable samples to the machine manufacturer before purchasing to get realistic production rates for your specific application.
What pre- and post-processing accessories are available for my new cut and strip machine?
Keep in mind that typical entry level cut and strip machines cannot be integrated with a full range of pre- and post-processing accessories. Determine what additional operations you’ll need and whether the manufacturer of the cut and strip machine offers fully integrated accessories for those operations. Typical operations include hotstamp or inkjet marking, coiling and stacking to name a few.
Another of the most basic accessories is a prefeeder. They are available in many different sizes and styles. The most basic models feed wire and cable directly by pulling it through motorized belts or rollers. The more advanced automatic wire prefeeder drives the cable reel directly, which is gentler on the wire or cable being fed. The most advanced models also feature a motorized reel lift and full enclosure for maximum safety. Make sure to specify a prefeeder that matches or exceeds the maximum acceleration and feed rates of your new cut and strip machine.
In the world of wire processing equipment, terminal crimping machines are like offensive linemen on a football team. They’re the unsung heroes that perform in the trenches out of the limelight. Applicators don’t get the same buzz and attention as laser wire marking or stripping machines, just like linemen are often overlooked in favor of quarterbacks or running backs.
Crimping presses haven’t changed much in recent years. But the tooling—that’s another story. Today, there are terminal crimping applicators equipped with RFID chips that store and relay setup and maintenance information. There are flexible applicators with multiple feed options. There are applicators with built-in cameras to aid setup. There’s even an applicator made from composite material.
Applicators are used to ensure quality and consistency in wire processing applications. They eliminate many problems that can arise from manual placement since terminals are automatically fed into position. Machine termination also ensures a complete cycle. In addition, crimp quality monitoring systems can be employed to ensure consistency and identify quality issues.
Harness shops usually crimp from hand or lose piece to applicator when they have high capacity. Although all crimping tools are designed to provide repeatable results, the crimper will produce the best throughput when used on a benchtop crimping machine. If used on fully automatic terminal crimping machines, this will be more true.
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