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Thursday, June 04, 2020


CoilMate® helps The Gillette Company® solve manufacturing bottlenecks.

  The Gillette Company®, the world's largest manufacturer of blades and razors, fabricates approximately five billion razor parts annually in its huge South Boston plant. To keep pace with constantly growing consumer demand for its product, especially the new Gillette® sensor, the press department in South Boston was moved into a modern facility and assigned the goal of significantly increasing its production capacity.

     "Achieving this objective required higher speeds and less downtime in the press department" explains Steve Hobbs, manager of metalforming. "We were being asked to substantially increase our volume, so we had to find ways to increase productivity."

     The leading cause of press downtime was the frequent need to change the coils of strip material and refeed the presses. "These changes were occurring as often as three times an hour on some of our lines," says Hobbs. "The operator would have to lift one coil at a time onto the pan reel, or vertical reel, using a hoist or fork lift. Since the coil diameter had to be small enough to be handled by the operator, the presses were not able to run for long periods before they had to be shut down for coil changes".

      A major part of the solution was installation of pallet decoilers - machines that uncoil strip metal and feed it to the press at the proper speed and alignment. They are designed to accommodate larger diameter coils, which reduces the frequency of coil changes. Coils of material are brought in from inventory on a pallet and placed directly onto the pallet decoiler. There is no handling of individual coils. Gillette Products

     Hobbs tried a number of decoilers from different sources before selecting three models manufactured by CoilMate®, a member of the Formtek Group., Clinton, ME. After installing them, Hobbs recalled, "The presses were down a minimal amount of time and our efficiency increased dramatically. These pallet decoilers maintained the loop into the press and also proved to be versatile. We run strip widths from 3/8 in. to 6 in. wide, all on the same decoilers.

     "The first two decoilers purchased from CoilMate® ran for two years nonstop, 24 hours a day, in our brass parts line, where they stood up to abuse. We routinely drop 6,000 lb. coils of material on the platform with a forklift and have had no structural failures. Use of pallet decoilers on all presses has enabled Gillette® to increase productivity significantly."

     Certain design and operating features of these decoilers are worth noting. For example, DC variable speed drives allow material to be uncoiled at a rate that precisely matches the line speed of the presses without the need for adjustments or brakes. The controlling or "dancer" arm is pulled forward by the feeding device based upon how fast the line is running. The moment the press stops, the arm moves back to the zero-speed position and decoiling stops.

     The dancer arm has a pivoting point that allows the roll to pick up the natural helix of the uncoiling material. Because it can pivot on both the vertical and horizontal planes, the dancer arm roll can be set visually by the operator to lie flat on the material without changing the direction of the material. The arm acts as an idler roll, picking up what the material naturally wants to do. The pallet decoiler uses a "hold arm" that extends over the pallet. This arm holds the material level with the passline height, which keeps the material flat and controlled, so there is less pulling and jerking on the dancer arm. This patented feature enables CoilMate® to handle thin to heavy materials equally.

Gillette Decoilers     The larger coils now being used by Gillette® minimize the amount of floor space required for material storage. As much as one and one-half week's worth of material for one press can be loaded on a single pallet. "CoilMate® has customized some of our decoilers for use on jobs where we were trying to conserve floor space and still use the larger coils," says Hobbs. "For our newest razor, the Gillette® sensor, they came up with a modified version of their standard pallet decoiler/straightener combination unit. This model also uses an ultrasonic loop control which aids in conserving floor space." Gillette® has manufacturing operations in 28 countries and its products are distributed in more than 200 nations and territories. The 31-acre South Boston site employs more than a tenth of Gillette's total worldwide workforce. The company also has 16 other blade manufacturing sites in South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

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