November 7, 2023
Engineered solutions: The iES approach to custom projects
Sometimes, an off-the-shelf piece of tube bending or forming equipment just won’t cut it.
It could be because your application is new and there are no standard offerings in place to process your tubes. Or maybe there is a standard process, but your tube geometry or your design has evolved — like the automotive industry with its changing emissions regulations and alternative fuel advancements.
In situations like these, you may find yourself facing a daunting search for a custom tool or machine to fit your exact needs. That’s where we come in. At Innovative Engineered Solutions, we’ll tackle any challenge from an uncommon mount or custom fixture to something no one’s ever done before.
Keep reading for an in-depth guide on what to expect if you work with us on a custom tool or machine. Or, if your time is short, watch this overview video.
You’ve requested a quote. Now what? Our engineering team gathers more information
Once we’ve received your quote request, our engineering team will ask you a few questions about your component, facilities and manufacturing process. This includes:
Your application. What are you trying to achieve? How will you need to process your part?
A part print or picture of the component. What should the final component look like? Will it be welded? Will it need to slip-fit into another joint?
Material details. What type of metal are you working with? What size will it be? Is the tube shaped (elliptical, square, rectangular, etc.)? What surface finish and tolerances will it have?
Operator involvement. Will there be multiple processing steps? Are there any ergonomic or safety concerns?
Manufacturing rate. What is your cycle time? How many parts do you produce a year?
Automation. Will there be automation involved? If so, how will the components be handled? How will parts move from one station to the next?
This data doesn’t just determine if we can make your component; it determines if an operator can safely process your part with our machine or tool. The more information you give us, the more likely it is that we can design an innovative solution that meets your needs.
The quoting timeline varies. If you only need a ballpark estimate, we could have that back to you within hours. For simpler custom projects — such as a modified fixture or tooling with an uncommon mount — it may only take a day to receive your detailed quote.
But a complex request that requires a hefty engineering lift for these preliminary designs, like a custom cell with automation, could take weeks. Don’t worry, we’re putting in the hard work needed to make sure your quote is accurate, and your project will meet your needs.
Once we finalize the quote and receive customer buy-in to move forward, we continue into the design phase.
Experienced engineers simulate, review and finalize your design
With the project underway, we gather everyone for an internal kick off — mechanical engineers, controls engineers, tooling engineers, operations, purchasing, everyone with a horse in the race. We discuss all the process, cycle and safety requirements, as well as any special features, while we build out a document with all the components we will either need to make or source.
Armed with the preliminary designs from the quoting process and all the details from that first meeting, the engineering team formulates a strategy for the remainder of the design and then they get started.
We use Autodesk Inventor to model our projects and finite element analysis to simulate how the design will react under tens of thousands of pounds of force. This helps us identify where and how the frame or head will bend, points of failure on individual components or the complete assembly, and any stress points in the design or operation that need to be addressed.
Then, with everything modeled, the control architecture designed and the schematics ready, we call a design review.
The design review
This virtual meeting is our chance to show you your new machine or tool. We’ll walk you through each component and how they work together to process your part. From operations and controls to ergonomics and safety guards, we’ll make sure all your expectations are met and your questions are answered. That way, there won’t be any surprises when you receive your final product — every button, lever, knob, mount, fixturing, wire and detail will be what you’re expecting.
With the overall design of the machine or tool approved, we pull the 3D renderings apart and design each component individually. This includes the dimensions and tolerances for each piece, the controls, wiring for electronics and hydraulics — the nitty gritty details.
We release your project to manufacturing and assembly
On our facility floor, our team manufactures or purchases all the components needed for your project, then sends everything on to assembly. For custom tooling projects, the process stops here. But for custom machine projects, assembly involves a few more steps.
These steps include putting together the machine base and the heads, sorting out any hoses or plumbing for hydraulic components, incorporating the electrical panel and finishing up any necessary field wiring. From there, we hook the machine to power, download the software that animates the process controls, and then adjust the final settings on the transducers.
At this point, the only step left is to verify all the safety guards — the e-stops, light curtains and guard switches — and then dry run the machine to complete our quality assurance checklist.
Your team comes to our facilities for runoff and training
It’s much easier to find and fix issues in our shop than it is to find and fix them once we’ve sent a tool or machine out the door. That’s why we do two runoffs.
During the internal run, we dry run the custom tool or machine for a thousand cycles before testing with any actual parts. Once we add components, we’ll usually run anywhere between 100 and 150 parts, make any necessary adjustments, then bring you in for the second runoff.
For this next runoff, there are two goals:
Process up to 300 parts with no failures
Train your team on how to operate and maintain your new equipment. This includes set up, routine maintenance and small adjustments to accommodate for part variation.
The more you participate, ask questions and operate the equipment yourself, the easier it will be to get your tool or machine up and running in your facilities.
From here, all that’s left is scheduling delivery to your door.
Work with a partner who can build exactly what you need
Stop wasting your time searching for an off-the-shelf solution to a one-of-a-kind problem.
Whether you need tooling with a custom mount, a machine that pierces a complex set of holes, an automated three-step cell or anything between, Innovative Engineered Solutions is up to the challenge.
To get started on your custom project, request a quote. Our team will be in touch within 24 hours.