Storing dies in aluminium extrusion industry has always remained a debatable issue. Although it is a known fact that storage with aluminium reduces the number of die handling, caustic consumption and increases die available time; still the practice could not be accepted by most of the extruders in all over the world. Perhaps, unreliability in order completion, inconsistency in the surface finish (on every loading), breakage of intricate die-part; discouraged this practice. However, in many small companies where the number of varieties of dies is less and more number of small repetitive orders is processed, floor team has inherited a practice of reusing dies with aluminium (By keeping the die close to the press after every use). This practice was initially considered as a short-cut method but later revealed as a cost beneficial practice.
I had an opportunity of analyzing in detail about the practice in more than one company I worked with. Major initially hurdles we faced were:
- Die Breakage
- Rough Surface
- Out of Shape etc.
But with a strong Die-Management, a close-loop connection between the Die-Run-History, Booked Order Tonnage, Planned Quantity and Committed Delivery Period we can make a best use of Stored-Dies-with-Aluminium. The key factor of the whole system is computerization. Most important is ‘Die Master’ which should be efficient & intelligent enough to capture all the die history and later use it for Planning and Scheduling purpose.
Definitely, there are many types of dies which cannot be stored with aluminium such as High Surface Finish Quality-Anodized (big) orders, Pneumatic cylinder dies which requires internal and external Anodize with Ra≤0.6µ, Automotive profiles-used for aesthetic purpose, Multivoid condenser tubes with delicate mandrels etc. Conditions can be defined (logic) in Die Master with respect to the types of order which will prompt/ allow the planner to use Dies with Aluminium in a best effective manner. Input for defining logic comes from feedback of various users on floor.
Close-Loop-Feedback is the pillar of any System success. Once the Die Master is stabilized and planning-module starts working by utilizing the centralized Data, Die with Aluminium will result in to a user friendly and universally accepted system. Effective use of the system can result in a decrease in die handling by 20-30% and caustic consumption by 15-20% over a period of one year. With this, we can expect to bring down the cost factor in the aluminium extrusion industry to a certain level.