It was a real challenge that Drives USA Chain faced when they set out to install the newest piece of machinery into their factory. To start out with, it was located about 400 miles from their Fulton, Illinois location. It also was kind of large, measuring 17 feet tall. Most challenging factor of all was the weight: about 120,000 pounds.
But by early September, they got the job done. And their latest acquisition – a 400 ton Minster stamping press – was up and running.
Buying the press was part of Drives’ master plan. The company has been expanding its line of precision roller chain and engineering chain to tap new markets. To compete for business in oil and gas drilling, steel plants, coal mining, construction equipment and other heavy duty markets, the company is making new chain that is larger, stronger and more heavy-duty rated than anything they have manufactured before.
New markets meant new products. And new products called for expanded manufacturing capabilities. So, the 400-ton stamping press was needed to produce parts at least 25% larger than anything ever before produced at the factory. The Minster EC-2 400 has a 9½ feet by 6½ foot platform. It can stamp out components at up to 150 strokes per minute in progressive dies from 3/8-inch-thick coils of high carbon steel. Even larger, thicker components can be stamped from bar stock or sheet steel.
The press was purchased from PAX Machine Works in Celina, Ohio, a large and well-respected tool and die facility that specializes in the use of Minster equipment. Once the sales was final, Drives shifted their focus to logistics. How, they wondered, does one move a monster?
Drives drafted G & L Industrial Movers of Fort Wayne, Indiana. G & L had their work cut out for them. They had to investigate every mile of the route. Ohio, Indiana and Illinois state police forces got into the act, too. The police helped map out the best routes (to avoid bridges and overpasses) and provided permits and escorts as well.
In early August preparations intensified inside the Drives factory. A 12 x 14 feet doorway had to be made 2 feet wider. All of the overhead lights, pipes, and beams had to be inspected and measured. Even the ceiling height had to be measured to insure the press would fit. A special electrical line was directly connected to the factory main power source. Finally, a team of three Drives maintenance specialists traveled to Ohio to handle peripheral press equipment and assist G & L in loading the press for transport to Fulton.
The long, slow moving process began August 17th and the convoy reached Drives, Inc. late the next afternoon.
The convoy was actually more of a parade: huge forklifts and a crane, followed by a tractor pulling a giant three-section trailer carrying the press. The trailer had 11 axles to spread the weight of this load. The next morning, the crane first lifted the press off the trailer. Then the G & L crew used the huge forklifts to lay the press on its side.
The last 400 feet were the hardest. Very cautiously, the team helped the press traverse the floor in the Drives factory. Finally, it was set in place on a pad of reinforced concrete 4 feet thick.
During the next two long workdays, the Drives crew attached and assembled all of the equipment, refilled the press with 35 gallons of hydraulic fluid, and prepared for operation.
Within three workdays, the press was fully operational and the first components were being stamped. This happened none too soon because the volume of new orders was rapidly growing.
In addition to this 400-ton press, in recent years Drives, Inc. has added several 100 through 200 ton presses, hydraulic ballizing equipment, a 300,000 pound automated static preload system and state-of-the-art chain assembly machines
This equipment – and the new products and new processes associated with it – is designed to help Drives USA Chain grow and expand product offerings. By investing in the future, Drives USA Chain continues their commitment to providing quality products and ultimately-solutions for customers.
About the Minster Press
Drives’ new press is a Minster Series E2 400 HeviStamper®. It was built by The Minster Machine Company of Minster, Ohio. Minster is one of the few remaining American manufacturers of heavy punch presses. They are sold world-wide.
The design of the press is two point, eccentric shaft, straight side. It is used with heavy progressive dies, transfer dies, for heavy material blanking and forming and for cold forming.
Massive and structurally stable, the Minster E2 is designed to resist deflection and retain its high accuracies under full load. E2 presses extend die life, increase close tolerance accuracy and operate at high speed.
- Feature metric imperial
- Capacity 3640 kN 400 tons
- Maximum stroke 355 mm 14″
- Upright opening 1015 mm 40″
- Maximum speed 150 strokes per minute 150 strokes per minute
- Drive motor 56.25 kW 75 hp
- Overall height 5360 mm 211″
- Weight 55,000 kg 120,000 lbs
- Press width 2440 mm 96″
- Bed opening (working area) 1829 x 1219 mm 72″ x 48″
- Floor space 2655 x 2030 mm 141.5″ x 80″