New Turret Press Helps Warner Mass-Produce Roughneck Bodies

WARNER BODIES' turret press enables mass production of the new Roughneck service body built at Warner's 70,000-sq-ft plant in Noblesville, Indiana.

"Our Nisshinbo turret press has revolutionized how we build service bodies," says Bob West, materials manager at Warner Bodies.

The turret press was installed in March 1997 when Warner built a 20,000-sq-ft addition to its 50,000-sq-ft manufacturing plant. Last July, Warner moved into the addition, which has truck body mounting bays, a truck body prep area, four new paint booths, an undercoating stall, restrooms, and a lunch room.

"Because of the new addition, Warner will be able to double production," West says.

Warner completely reconfigured its plant floor space, adding new equipment and positioning welding fixtures for faster assembly, West says. To help increase production speed, Warner purchased additional spot welders that can assemble service bodies faster than MIG welders.

"Our next big push is to do more spot-welding of Roughneck service bodies," West says. "Then we will begin doing more spot-welding of other service bodies."

The Roughneck service body is designed for faster assembly with spot welders, West says. Warner currently has over 30 MIG welding stations on its assembly line, some of which will be replaced with spot welders. Welding wire for the MIG stations is purchased in 600-lb spools to save money.

Turret Press Capabilities Among the 22 stations on the turret press, a progressive lower punch for putting louvers in service body doors makes 480 strokes per minute, says Matt Franklin, an engineer at Warner. Turret press work stations use Wilson tools, which are made for Nisshinbo model HTP 1000 thick turret presses used in heavy-duty applications. The presses can exert more tonnage for cutting parts than comparable turret presses.

"We searched 1 1/2 years for a machine we thought would enhance our production," Franklin says. "Our turret press is one of the few Nisshinbos used in the United States."

A rolling shear can cut aluminum or steel up to 1/4-inch thick and form steel up to 14 gauge. At the same time, the rolling shear on the turret press makes wheel-well cutouts and places reinforcing ribs in 16-gauge automotive-grade galvanneal sheet used for service body sidepanels.

Another tool in a turret press work station was designed by Warner Bodies to fabricate shelf brackets, Franklin says. The tool cuts and forms brackets in one hit.

The turret press is programmed to make a variety of cuts on sidepanels of service bodies, he says. Cuts and bends such as cutouts for wheel wells and four-inch holes for taillights are made simultaneously on each galvanneal sheet before it is removed from the turret press.

Programmable From Autocad Included in the work stations are two servo motors with programmable positioning, Franklin says. Fabri' Win software used by designers at Warner Bodies converts scanned Autocad drawings into numerically-controlled (NC) code, which is used to assign the placement and sequencing of tool hits made by the turret press.

"Fabri'Win allows us to write NC code from an Autocad drawing," Franklin says. "This software has been available for a few years, but not many manufacturers our size use this technology."

Each piece of the Roughneck service body was designed in Autocad and fits together on a computer screen before any bodies are built, he says. A prototype truck body is designed electronically instead of being hand-fitted on the shop floor.

"The Roughneck service body is designed around the capabilities of the Nisshinbo turret press," Franklin says.

The Roughneck is available in 98- or 108-inch lengths, West says. Service body sidepanels are made of 16-gauge material, the tailgate is made of 14-gauge material, and the floor is made of 12-gauge treadplate.

Sidepack doors are made of 18-gauge material. Standard features on the Roughneck include stainless steel rotary latches, spring-loaded door holders, and a lighted treadplate step bumper.

Roughneck Features Another standard feature of the Roughneck is a removable panel in the left sidepack compartment that enlarges the horizontal compartment for longer items. When the panel is removed, the storage area is lengthened by aligning an adjustable shelf in the rear compartment with the floor of the horizontal compartment.

The Nisshinbo turret press gave Warner the capabilities to build the Roughneck service body, Franklin says. Before purchasing the turret press to fabricate metal for its service bodies, Warner did a lot of hand notching and used plasma cutters and drills.

Besides the Nisshinbo turret press, Warner has three punch presses and four press brakes. A three-stage backgauge on the pressbrake traverses two planes, moving horizontally as well as vertically.

The backgauge is automated and can be programmed for different parts, West says. This eliminates the need for a press brake operator to measure every bend.

Warner sells its truck bodies through distributors located mostly in the midwest. Warner Bodies largest distributor is Buckeye Truck Equipment in Columbus, Ohio. Warner's second largest distributor on the West Coast is Air Tec Equipment Inc in Vancouver, Washington.

Substantial Company Growth The company has grown substantially since it was purchased by Bill Boice in 1985, West says. That year, Warner had 14 employees, built 200 truck bodies, and had sales of less than $1 million.

Under Boice's ownership, sales doubled the first year, says Carl Rugenstein, controller at Boice Manufacturing. Warner currently has over 100 employees, and in 1996 and 1997 it had annual sales of over $6 million. >From 1995 to 1997, Boice Manufacturing was identified by Indiana University as one of the state's 100 fastest growing companies.

After purchasing the turret press and other new fabrication equipment, Warner added a night shift from 11 pm to 7 am. The six employees on this shift primarily do fabrication work.

"We've been thriving on the custom utility body market and are making inroads into the market for standard service bodies," Rugenstein says. "Warner has great expectations for the Roughneck service body in this market."

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