Domestic Success from Metal Stamping Manufacturers Clamason UK
Clamason manufactured a top and bottom RFI shielding can to house the digital tuner integrated into 42in and 50in plasma TV sets when they were made in the UK by Pioneer GB Ltd at Castleford, West Yorkshire (Pioneer).
The cover of tin-plated and the base of zinc-plated mild steel were essential for picture quality to shield against radio frequency interference (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Clamason delivered the RFI screening cans in pairs on a JIT basis to Pioneer GB, always filling a timed delivery slot on a specific day.Meanwhile plasma screens were flown in from one of the Pioneer Corporation’s three plants in Japan for the sets to be built at Castleford at a daily rate of up to 1800 units, 75% of which were the 42in model. The highly successful British operation employed 400 workers in a 12,000 sq ft factory and ran three assembly lines working 24/7, its’ product was consistently voted “best in class” in the TV press.
Plasma TV production ceased at Castleford in the spring of 2009.
Panasonic, Canal+ & Pace
Clamason’s automated transfer press line provides the ideal manufacturing solution for set-top boxes for digital TV.
All digital TV uses multiplexing to combine and compress multiple TV channels into a single transmission that needs to be decoded by a suitable digital receiver. Digital set-top boxes or digiboxes are the receivers for digital terrestrial TV (Freeview), digital satellite TV services (from providers BSkyB, and BT Vision and cable TV (Virgin Media) available to the UK viewing public. There are basically three types of set-top box offering different functions reception only, recordable (on to disc or hard drive as in Sky Plus) and high-definition TV (the last-named being recordable but in the latest high-definition format, for example Sky HD).Clamason Industries has manufactured EMI-shielded, metal enclosures for most categories of set-top box, since they can incorporate up to four pressings. The components metal stamping manufacturers Clamason have produced include pre-painted, zinc-plated mild steel top covers (bought in as pre-cut blanks, with piercing and bending performed at Clamason) and the zintec mild steel base, plus in some cases a printed front and back panel. Even those set-top boxes which appear to be made of plastic, such as the Sky HD box from Thomson, still utilise three pressed parts, the outer skin being merely cosmetic.
The transfer press line allows the manufacture of highly complex parts with no carry strip and the automatic insertion of other components and has the facility to reverse the burr side automatically within the process. It is ideally suited to complex and intricate set-top box applications where maintenance of the highest aesthetic standards and surface quality is an essential consideration.
This fully automated line provides rapid transfer of pressings between stations by pick-and-place robots with careful handling. This is worlds apart from the sometimes dangerous conditions at stamping plants in the Far East. There many set-top boxes are made with manual transfer between press operations instead of robotic handling.
Having opened a plant (with a mirror transfer press line for set-top boxes) in 2006 at Nitra in the Slovak Republic, we are well placed to deliver local production solutions to major electronics companies and their network of manufacturing partners in the region, ranging from Panasonic, Hitachi and Philips to Celestica, Elcoteq and Flextronics. This factory is part of Clamason’s strategy of staying geographically close to such key players, who may require critical, bi-weekly or even daily, deliveries on a just-in-time basis.
The potential imposition, under discussion, of tariffs on electronics goods imported from outside the European Union has made the lower labour cost areas of Central, formerly Eastern, Europe a really attractive proposition for international electronics OEMs.
Also, whilst small, simple components are relatively cheap to transport around the world in quantity, expensive, finished electronics assemblies are far more costly to move about. What is more, the carbon footprint of such journeys is becoming a significant issue. It is unsurprising, therefore, to see global companies Hitachi and Panasonic amongst others already in the Czech Republic.
An engineering solution to an everyday problem – how to easily cut plastic cling film from a roll for commercial/ domestic catering, medical wound care, or to cut silver foil wraps with one hand whilst selectively colouring hair in the salon.
The brief required the product to have the flexibility to cut any type of plastic film currently available, which turned out to be very demanding. PVC, Polyolefin and Polyethylene films exhibit markedly different strain during the cutting process (change in sample length divided by original length of sample giving a quantifiable measurement of the ‘stretchiness’ of the material). This was one of the driving factors in the design of the blade.
The blade has been incorporated into a range of sizes of the disposable and recyclable plastic dispenser to accommodate various widths, lengths and thicknesses. The blade also acts as a structural member, stiffening the lid section without the need for excessively thick extrusion section. This is essential for the larger dispenser sizes where the cutting profile should meet the film at the same time across the full length of the dispenser. The user pulls out sufficient film or foil to cover food or plate and then closes the lid to cut the material. The blade is safely housed in a deep channel to prevent accidents.
Digital TV Decoder Boxes
The world-class Franco-American digital set-top box producers Thomson chose Clamason Industries to manufacture the top and bottom pressed metal enclosure components for their’ European top up TV‘ digital decoder box. This contract of almost £1m in value was won in the face of aggressive competition from Far Eastern manufacturers, who for all that are becoming less attractive as their shipping and other essential purchases on the international market steadily increase in cost, outweighing the commonly regarded benefit of cheap labour.The digital decoder were assembled by Thomson in their large facility at Genlis near Dijon, France, whilst the precision pressings were made on a transfer press line at metal stamping company Clamason’s satellite plant in Nitra, Slovakia. A total quantity of 300,000 decoder boxes were made between July 2008 and June 2009.
Underlining its global approach to project management, metal stamping manufacturers Clamason supervised the manufacture in Taiwan of the press tools necessary for the contract. The top cover was made from pre-painted black, grade DX51D mild steel on the outside, whilst the inside featured anti-fingerprint Zintec zinc coating. The base was simply anti-fingerprint Zintec but also included, to finish it off, the attachment of four rubber feet and screen-printing detailing the connection requirements. For home entertainments products, aesthetic quality in the lounge environment is valued by the consumer as highly as technical excellence.
The fresh Thomson top covers for refurbished Sky Digital set-top boxes were manufactured on a transfer press line at Clamason – a metal stamping company in Kingswinford, West Midlands, along with similar digital TV and DVR products for Panasonic and Pioneer, who also use A-Novo‘s UK facility.
In addition to meeting refurbishment needs, having taken over a contract from Amtek in Hungary, Clamason had already produced in Nitra a ‘top up TV‘ chassis, assembled under licence by one of the world’s principal electronics manufacturing subcontractors, the US $30 billion turnover, Singapore-based group Flextronics.
So Clamason’s £1m contract to make the top and bottom pressed metal enclosure components for Thomson‘s European ‘top up TV‘ digital decoder box superseding this project from July 2008. Clamason also continued to manufacture until 2010, Sky+ covers and chassis for original equipment.
In the final analysis the burgeoning market for home entertainments products will always offer a broad spectrum of opportunities for companies capable of fulfilling the exacting demands of projects sourced and managed on a global scale.
Securistyle – Window Hardware
Clamason’s know-how opens a window of opportunity for easy-cleaning facility on Securistyle’s new Defender Egress’ range.
Cheltenham-based Securistyle (an Assa Abloy company) is one of the largest UK manufacturers of window hardware components such as hinges, handles and locking mechanisms. Its market-leading window ironmongery, which includes the Defender Egress’ friction hinge, is widely specified in the social housing sector, as well as the private sector and commercial markets, both in the UK and internationally.
Manufactured from austenitic stainless steel for added durability and maximum resistance to corrosion, Securistyle‘s top-selling product range has recently been redesigned and enhanced. The Defender Egress’ friction hinge is a domestic product for emergency exit and incorporates an easy-cleaning facility: it is tested to 30,000 cycles and carries a ten-year guarantee.
Metal stamping company, Clamason Industries’ 3in long ‘insert slider’ component in structurally rigid, stainless steel grade 301 is overmoulded with an acetal copolymer at Clamason’s plastics moulding subcontractor and fits into the stainless steel track, both 12in and 16in versions, on the Defender Egress’. Clamason manufactures 2.5 million per year of this component, which is produced in pairs for the top and bottom of a window. The principle is that you ‘press & push’ the slider, which moves the sash away from the frame, creating a gap to reach the outside of a window from within a building for cleaning purposes.
In more detail the hinge operates as follows. From the fully closed and locked position, the vent can be opened to a full 90 to provide emergency exit in compliance with BS 5588 Part 1:1990 and Building Regulations Approved Document B for fire escape windows. Furthermore, in order to get to the glass from inside a building to clean it, the insert sliders (i.e. release levers) at both top and bottom of the vent can be depressed, allowing the pivot point to be moved towards the centre of the opening. That provides the required gap between vent and frame for cleaning access in accordance with BS 8213 Part 1:2004. The vent is closed and reset into its fire escape mode by simply grasping the handle and pulling the vent shut.
Clamason redesigned its insert slider component, manufactured on its 80t Kaiser /Bruderer press, to later incorporate subcontract plastic overmoulding. The further process advantageously avoids the potential for finger injury when operating the mechanism in situ, minimising a risk to safety.
Accordingly, Clamason’s convenient one-stop-shop avoids the pitfalls inherent in the multiple sourcing of components and the attendant assembly operation.
The project illustrates well how Clamason’s expertise and experience are increasingly being called upon to fulfil a central role in project management and the organisation and co-ordination of subcontractors. The latter may include suppliers of precision diecastings, plastic mouldings and fasteners or of zinc plating, anodising and painting services.
ABRU – Leaders in Ladders
Abru Ltd (Abru), a member of the Werner group, is generally claimed to be the UK’s no.1 manufacturer of industrial and domestic ladders of all types aluminium alloy and wooden stepladders, extension ladders and loft ladders. Thanks in no small part to significant investment in its Belper, Derbyshire, plant, Abru remains strongly competitive, and its status as a major supplier to both the B&Q and Homebase DIY chains bears testimony to its excellence in customer service and its dedicated policy of continuous improvement.Whilst many of Abru‘s lower volume products have been transferred to low-cost Far East producers over the years, three- and five-rung domestic step ladders have remained firmly in the UK, with Clamason?providing a reliable, single-source, manufacturing solution for 40,000 to 60,000 domestic aluminium ladder platforms each month an annual contract value in the region of 600,000.
The ladder platform, approximately 250mm square in 1.5mm thick, grade 5251 H26 aluminium alloy, is produced on Clamason’s Chin Fong Worcester transfer press line of six presses located together. In the case of Abru, only five of the six stations are employed. This system provides rapid transfer of a pressing between operations by pick-and-place robots, with careful handling to maintain surface quality.
The tools were manufactured in the Far East, in order to take advantage of a lower cost base and quicker delivery. Whilst Clamason has recourse to a number of UK toolmakers and will continue to do so, there are times, such as with this project, when a quick turnround is of critical importance. Accordingly, using their own agent, Clamason secured tools and production samples from the Far East in just three weeks.
Year-on-year metal stamping manufacturers Clamason has made significant improvements to the process for manufacturing Abru‘s ladder platforms, reducing cost despite the fact that aluminium as a raw material continues to rise in price. Initially the 12mm diameter, mild steel tube which acts as a hinge for the platform was manually inserted after pressing, a slow and labour-intensive process. Now Clamason uses its engineering expertise to insert the tube automatically during the press cycle, an operation well suited to the transfer press line. The tube itself, sourced on the Continent of Europe in 15m lengths, is automatically handled and cut-to-length on a parallel line. The short lengths are then loaded from the side via a conveyor onto a station of the transfer press for both siting in the platform and the forming of a retaining swage on each end of the tube. Meanwhile metal stamping manufacturers Clamason has also been focussing on logistics. The use of larger stillages has now reduced twice-weekly deliveries to just one, another example of ongoing service improvement.
As soon as a three-year contract had been completed for Abru, a new five-year deal was signed. Commenting upon the partnership, the Supply Chain Manager of?Abru, Chris Weedon, stated: We see no need to look elsewhere for sourcing our ladder platform because Clamason Industries has proved itself to be a first-class supplier in all respects, and one with whom we are happy to commit to another long-term agreement.
Above and beyond the ladder application, Clamason exploits the special advantages of its transfer press line for making a number of other components. Its versatility, adaptability, care in handling and the lack of carry strip make it ideal for a variety of complex parts and the automatic insertion of other parts (such as other precision pressings, machined parts, zinc, aluminium or magnesium diecastings, or even plastic mouldings).
Then, by turning over the blank after the first stage, the line enables the same press tool to make both left and right hand versions of the same component a huge competitive cost advantage for tooling. What is more, the line has the facility to reverse the burr side of a component automatically within the process.
Vehicle applications for metal stamping manufacturers Clamason’s transfer press operations include engine control unit (ECU) housings, airbag inflator housings and GPS antennae, whilst, back in the domestic arena, Sky TV set-top boxes are taking up to 30% of its current capacity. It means a step up for all these products too.
Now a similar transfer press facility, mirroring the one at Kingswinford, has been installed at Clamason’s plant in Slovakia. That line facilitates dual sourcing whilst easing deliveries to the regional factories of multinational OEM’s. Customers in Central Europe such as first-tier automotive (Delphi and TRW) and home entertainments (Panasonic and Thomson) commonly demand bi-weekly or even daily deliveries on a just-in-time basis in special returnable packaging. So Clamason will supply customers with what they want when they want it.