Special tools, special requirements, and special customers for bending

press brake tooling installed on CNC press brake

We will tell you today a good story about press brake tools and bending solutions. There are a lot of projects which are hard to develop and if it is a new application for us it is not possible to remind the previous experience what was done already and to repeat.
Tooling-producing factories deal with standard production programs and have just several engineers with very limited time for the new project so it will be the normal picture if the customer after his request will receive no detailed quotation or no detailed solution but quite an expensive price roughly if he wants to continue the project and probably 2/3 of this budget will be R&D works.

Request with minimum details

The one additional factor we know from our experience — customers are normally lazy to make the preliminary study inside their factory and when we have the request they even cannot tell us the coefficient of the spring back of their material. It could be discovered by making some tests before — bending several parts to determine the conditions of their materials but no — they trying to send us the request with their steel (which will be unknown to us how it will be deformed during bending) and want the complete offer sometimes with quite precise parameters which are impossible to confirm or not confirm without testing.

We know perfectly also — a normal company doesn’t want to take care of a solution that will not work properly or if it will be the difference of bending between what customer expectations and what customers will receive in real. And it is reasonable not to touch such projects from the beginning because the discussions could take a lot of time and finished with nothing with a lot of work from the manufacturer which will be completely useless. And one point is if the customer wants to take care of a lot of things and is ready to make tests, discuss the drawing, explain the limits, and quite another story that he just wants without efforts from his side and probably even if you will develop something for him it is a risk that he will share your work to others to get the cheapest price.
That is why also reputable press brake tooling manufacturers prefer not to disclose the principles of the solution without money paid and the project looks like a “bending tool to make your part, complete set, 20000 EUR” or similar.

Special tools with obligations for final results

Also in a lot of cases responsibility of the customer, even if confirmed is ignored. For example simple story — we have a project for a special shape and we offered the solution to make it in two separate bends with two different sets of tooling (one standard and one special). Another company offered the complete set to make shape in one bend and for us this solution looks strange and we do not believe that it will work as expected. The customer is telling — it is my responsibility, give me the price for the same. For us it is a tricky thing — we believe that he will receive the tooling which is not working but moreover, the shape will be already deformed in the place of the second bend and he cannot even rebend it after to get his part with the standard tooling. So, better to decline.

And we know why this happen and it is the correct way to deal — even if there will be no legal responsibility (because the customer confirmed that it is his risk). Could be the real story that with time, this decision-maker will go probably away from the factory and the new tooling manager will make a nice post on Reddit about the manufacturer who supplied the strange and useless piece of metal. We see and know such stories about big companies and it also the question of market trust and company reputation after.

We like the efforts from the customer’s side — it helps us to understand that on the other side, it is an actual project and our work could be reasonable. With most of our customers we work through Internet communications without meetings and detailed information helps us to prepare from us the detailed information as well. Even if the customer will disappear after we know that we made our work, we made a good offer, and probably the customer will understand our efforts in the future and will return to us with the order confirmation.

Sometimes it happens that the problem with technical details is based because of communication with not the right people. The project is led by the purchase manager who has his task to receive the quotation and all the information should be provided by the engineer or press brake operator and manager knows nothing about the details of the project he had to care. But we cannot organize communications between internal offices of the customer’s factory and we believe that it should be done by the customer itself.

Special bending tools for press brake – unique solution

What are more problems with special bending tools?
Customers could have no idea that it will cost a lot. Or it will cost more than his press brake if he has the machine 40 years old. And in this case from our side is reasonable not to touch deeply on the technical details but to try to roughly calculate the pricing and ask the customer if is this a reason to continue. A lot of customers ask for bending tooling for really old machines, and they are surprised with the price or later they are changing their solution and come basically from bending to other technologies. We had one case this year to develop the tooling to make the profiles — finally, the customer went from our offer to a Chinese profile roll-forming line because he understood that it is better for him. For us, the useless work was done.
And we need to tell from the beginning in a lot of projects because we have the internal feeling that it will be a waste of time.

Believe us — an engineering job is not so easy because it could be finished without any result. For standard tooling for us is not a problem to give any quotation for any request — it is our standard job and mainly we promise the quotation (if it is not big) within 24 hours from the request. But any special tooling request requires additional calculations, work of the technical office, the study of the parts, etc. so we look for our possibilities and interest from the beginning as any other company who cares about their limited sources.

We also know how our competitors are working and we know that our answer will be more professional even if we will decline the job. For example, it was one case in the past where we cannot deal with ourselves because in the production plant we use there is no turning center and we planned in the project the tool with the shaft which should be made on the turning lathe.

We made a complete project of the tooling and asked for prices mainly from all producers in Europe. Or they decline or their prices were 3–4 times bigger than the real job price with a reasonable profit. It helped us to understand one more time how tool makers have cared about their sources even if the job is cleared, do not want to make something new and very limited if the question is out of standard job or job where they already have the experience.

Sometimes the question ends from the beginning. A lot of times we declined the deep bending because customers even didn’t have enough daylight for it or other applications because were off of the possible tonnage of their press brake. It is quite a normal story that potential customers do not have even simple calculations but try to request the offer and to make work for the tool maker companies.

We also encounter our previous studies

Moreover, we underlined a lot of times — a perfect project for us when the customer will come to us with the solution and ask us to repeat the bending tool at a fair price. But mostly we are making solutions and after that, we have the risk that customers will go to others to repeat. And the job there will be ours. Imagine — indeed, our image for the website of press brake tools was improperly used (without our permission and credit) by more than 20 companies to promote the tooling from their own (and we have met it also in the offer of the big press brake manufacturer as well). Can you imagine who will take care to respect the copyrights during the repeat of the drawing of another manufacturer? Nobody.
And sometimes there were funny stories that we received the drawing from our dealer, checked it and answered “Oh, but it is already our”…

Well, we have a lot of stories from our dealers as well. For example — special profile, complicated solution, three stations bending with special tools, and serious job to create the complete detailed project. The customer received all, checked, and responded — “oh, thank you so much, I have 15 profiles more (with different geometries), can you check please that offered bending tools will be enough to get all”? Really? Sure thing everything is possible but if the customer doesn’t want to use his engineers and thinks that he doesn’t need to hire somebody — let him pay for our job just to study the drawings.

Special bending tools can help the customer to get a lot of money for the orders or to free him from buying other machine tools probably. Sometimes we can open completely new possibilities that customer never knows like completely punching and bending with a press brake, special deformations, making of brackets and other elements in one stroke, and a lot more.

We have long experience in special solutions and probably sometimes we can raise projects already done to repeat with your application and to provide the most optimized and already tested solution which is working in reality! In return for sure as any commercial company, we would like to have respect for our work, caring of business ethics, and understanding from the customer side what resources we are investing for each application and why our answer should be one or another.

This post is also published on @Medium