Fifty years of pullmax

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  • Fifty yearsofPullmaxNot so much a case of life begins at forty, more a case of carrying on thestandards set during fifty years of trading.

    Pullmax, a company whose name hasbecome synonymous with state ofthe art technology in sheetmetal andplateworking machinery, this yearcelebrates its fiftieth anniversary.

    The Pullmax story starts in 1936 when aSwedish company, ESAB, moved frompremises in Marienholm to a new site inHerkulesgatan, leaving behind a weldingand fabrication shop which had previouslymanufactured test rigs and other equipmentas part of its customer service.

    In 1938 the shop was incorporated as anautonomous company, AB Elektrosvets,and quickly made a name for itself throughparticipation in the construction of the GotaAlv Bridge. Soon, it was also turning outrefrigerators, boats and forklift trucks.

    The construction business involved com-petition with ESAB's own customers, so in1942 Elektrosvets was sold to a companycalled Haldex (owned by SkandinaviskaBanken, later the Savean Group) andrenamed AB Svetsmekano. Haldex ownedthe patent for a method of cutting steel plate,and Svetsmekano were delegated to developthisunder the trade name ofPullmax.

    After the Second World War, the Pullmaxplate cutting machine quickly became worldfamous, more than 50 000 being manufac-tured by the company in Sweden andHolland and under licence in England,Japan and Spain. Sales subsidiaries wereestablished in France, Germany, England,the USA, Canada, Austria and Belgium.

    Conscious of the expiry of the patent in1954, the company developed a new tech-nique, nibbling, to produce the Pullmaxuniversal shearing and nibbling machine.The 1957 acquisition of patent rights for aquick stroke machine further consolidatedthe company's position at the forefront ofplateworking technology and in 1959 thiswas reflected by another name changetoPullmax AB. The new logo commemoratedthe plate shears of the company's first steelcutting patent.

    In 1964, Pullmax was bought by Granges,integrated into the Granges Hedlund Groupand then sold again in 1971 to S Lindmarkand H Karinen. Pullmax's thin sheet special-ism was complemented by the medium and30

    Pullmax's new P209 punching and nibbling machine carries a price tag of 25 000

    thick plate expertise of other companies inthe group and an effective joint marketingorganisation was developed.

    Statsforetag purchased the late machineryinterests from Lindmark and Karinen in1974 to establish the largest machine toolcompany in Scandinavia, SMT-Pullmax AB,with over 1000 employees. However, thesophistication and diversity of modern, hightechnology machine tools is such that thegroup was sub-divided by product range.

    Since 1986, the Pullmax organisation hasco-owned, with the Beyeler Group, thepressbrake and shear manufacturing opera-tions of Ursvikens Mekaniska Verkstad ABand the plate rounding and ring bendingmachine activities of Kumla BendingMachines AB, together with HassleholmsMekaniska Verkstad AB.

    Twenty years ago Pullmax was one of thefirst companies in the world to produce anumerically controlled machine toolthePullmatic 193 co-ordinated punchingmachine, with a 72-tool magazine. In 1972,

    there followed the P31 NC nibbling machineand in 1974 the company's first computernumerically controlled product, the 18SM.Ten years ago the first Pullmatic portalframed punching and nibbling machine,with automatic tool changing and therevolutionary eight axis SMT 300 computer,was introduced.

    Today, Pullmax's own product range hasthree strands: The X93 welding bevellermachine prepares plate edges, without dis-tortion, for welding. The P200 family ofthirteen universal punching and nibblingmachines caters for material up to 4mmthick. Among four CNC models is the P209,said to be the world's least expensive CNCpunching and nibbling machine. The Pull-matic range of portal framed machinescovers material thicknesses up to 15mm andvery high speed output at lesser thicknesses.Modular optional facilities such as plasmacutting, milling and the Optitool indexablepunch head system can be retrofitted to thebasic machines. The Pullmatic 6LH FMS is

    Production Engineer October 1988

  • claimed to be the world's most advancedmanufacturing plant.

    The company also supplies and providesspares and service for the products of theassociated companies mentioned above,including: Kumla/Roundo section rolls,plate rolls and flanging-and-punchingmachines. Ursviken pressbrakes, guillotinesand shears and are also agents for theItalian-made Ficep range of heavy beam, flatplate and angle fabrication lines.

    Pullmax has supplied machines to, ormanufactured machines in, the UK for overforty years. Since 1981 Pullmax UK has beenbased in Leeds, centrally located to offer afast response service to its clients, with anextensive technical centre which houses thesales department, customer liaison depart-ment, training school, spares stock andshowroom.

    Each member of the product supportgroup is a specialist in a particular sector of

    a sophisticated back-up organisation and weat the Leeds Technical Centre aim to providea comprehensive service for all the com-pany's products, from the simplest to themost complex. Judging by the level ofcustomer satisfaction, we think we're gettingit about right."

    And get it right it did for Brown DesignEngineering (BDE) who developed and nowmanufacture Caterpillar's new RTC60rough terrain telescopic forklift truck underan exclusive design and build contract. BDEhas installed four Pullmax plateworkingmachines in its new, 7M purpose-builtfactory at Stockton-on-Tees.

    The plant is also involved in subcontract'work for Artix, makers of an extensive rangeof articulated dump trucks marketedthrough Caterpillar; and in the developmentand production of Multidrive's new all-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-steer articulatedtruck.

    the Pullmax and associated ranges withEnglish speaking advisers in the Swedishfactories only a phone call away if needed.

    A comprehensive stock of spares, exclus-ively dedicated to the Pullmax and associ-ated ranges, provides customers with areliable, single source service. A computeralso provides a statistical analysis facilitybased on actual service records to producereliable performance forecasts and pay-backpredictions.

    The Centre also provides training coursesto ensure that customers' staff get the bestpossible results from their Pullmaxmachines.

    In the words of managing director PaulRhodes: "Sophisticated equipment deserves

    Looking along the 7.3metre bed length ofBDE's Pullmax EKP 640tonne press brake

    BDE, Artix and Multidrive are all parts ofthe privately owned David J B Brown groupof companies which also includes AWD,formerly Bedford Trucks.

    The Pullmax equipment supplied to thenew factory comprises a Pullmatic 3015/12CNC punching and nibbling machine, aGSB 650 5m x 23mm CNC guillotine shear,an EKP CNC press brake of 640 ton x 7.3metre bed capacity and an X93 bevellingmachine.

    The Pullmatic unit is the third to bebought by the group: earlier machines werethe basic punching model and a unit with anauxiliary plasma cutting head and automaticplate handling. The latest version, which canpunch plate up to 12.5mm thick, incor-

    porates Pullmax's new Optitool indexablepunch head system, enabling any of thetools, in fifteen workstations, to be rotated toany angle and applied with the full 40 tonnespunching force anywhere on a 1550mm x3000mm workpiece with an accuracy of+ / - 0.1mm per metre. Automatic platerepositioning increases the overall plate sizewhich can be conveniently worked.

    Accurately sheared blanks with perpen-dicular edges come straight off the GSB 650guillotine, thanks to a patented electro-hydraulic blade gap adjustment systemwhich rotates the upper blade forwards orbackwards to alter the blade gap and bladeangle simultaneously. This results in the topblade hitting the sheet precisely above thebottom blade, but going on to pass it with thecorrect clearance. Sheets up to 5m wide and23mm thick can be cut by the GSB and as theonly shear in the BDE shop, it handleseverything from 3mm to 23mm material.

    Accuracy was also a consideration in thepurchase of the EKP servo-hydraulic pressbrake. Despite its 640 tonne pressing forceand 7.3m bed length, it offers tolerances astight as those of much smaller machines andBDE use it for all sheet materials from 3mmto 15mm thick. It is equipped to minimisedowntime between jobs, with a motorisedtool magazine and hydraulic tool clamping.A servo-driven arrangement enables thelower vee tooling to be changed across arange of sizes from 18mm to 250mmopening, without the need to rotate the tooland with automatic tool centring. The unit isequipped with nine axis multi-processorCNC sequence control and a CRT displayfor interactive programming.

    Perhaps the most interesting feature ofthis machine is the revolutionary six axisbackgauge which allows either of the back-gauge fingers to position itself in any threedimensional position within its overall travellimitations independently from the other.

    Clean, distortion-free edges are a pre-requisite for effective single or double weldjoints and BDE chose a Pullmax X93beveller for the preparation of X, V, Y or Kform joints. The workpiece is automaticallyfed through the machine, to produce bevelsup to 25mm wide, at any angle between 25and 55, without the use of heat ofchemicals.

    BDE's production engineer Ian Baxteremphasised the importance of quality andaccuracy: "As a major Caterpillar supplier,our quality assurance must be of the highestpossible standard. By producing even thesmallest components within the vehicle to ahigh level of accuracy and consistency,quality is introduced at this base level andmaintained throughout the manufacture ofthe first vehicle. For ourselves, we know firsthand that since producing componen