A components supplier of commercial lawn mowing equipment installed a new press brake for forming sheet metal into the decks for large mowers. The brake bends the ends of pre-cut sheet metal and forms deck plates that measure 42-72 inches. The metal sheets are 7 to 10 gauge, and range in weight from about 40-125 pounds.
When the new brake was installed, two operators would manually lift and hold the sheets while being formed. The piece had three bends, which required the sheet to be loaded, then turned 180 degrees to be folded the second time, and then repositioned for a third bend. The operation was slow, and positioning the metal properly into the press brake with two people pushing and pulling was very difficult. The process took about six minutes to make the three bends, and was a major drain on labor expenses.
After completing the prototype work for the new application, the company began investigating a better
process for forming the mower decks.