Guest Editorial
By Rob Bisbee, Greenerd Press & Machine Co.
Seek experience
Navigating the ins and outs of press automation


ome manufacturers have automation requirements that are well-defined and documented. Others are uncertain about what automation solution to pursue or even how to get started.

The reasons for automating a press vary, and include working with cumbersome parts, hazardous materials, reducing repetitive movements, or freeing up operators for higher skilled work. Their goals can be realized by properly engineering automated solutions that can maximize productivity and improve parts quality and consistency, as well as reduce scrap.

Consult with experts

Working with a press builder that is also an authorized system integrator and has a long history of providing integrated press automation solutions for a wide range of applications is advantageous. With this approach, manufacturers will have one partner to develop a turnkey press and automation package.

Automation machinery
Automation can increase throughput, reduce cycle time and waste and increase part quality, among other benefits.

Working with a generic automation house or systems integrator can be beneficial for non-press projects, but these sources may lack the specific knowledge that comes with years of working with presses, tooling, dies, and product handling that accompanies the press industry.


When customers approach us with new press projects, one challenge is to identify the correct scale for any automation solution that will address tomorrow’s production needs, while keeping within budget. Tailoring automation offerings to fit a range of applications is important. This includes everything from basic press automation (such as electrically integrating a material feeder to the press) to large multi-press, multi-robotic autonomous working cells.

Greenerd recently worked with a manufacturer to automate the repetitive loading and unloading of one of its presses. We engineered a solution that would seamlessly integrate into the existing press and work within limited floor space. However, the ROI fell short of the client’s goals, so they reluctantly considered canceling the project.

We then evaluated each of the processes that were upstream and downstream of their press and found that parts could be reoriented upstream of the press to reduce transfer times. Also, a downstream process became extraneous when automation was expanded to directly feed the next process. As a result, the need for product transfer/handling bins was eliminated, transfer times were reduced and floor space was opened up. This effort reduced the ROI window and the automation received the green light.


Even in cases where manufacturers may not require automation immediately, they may find it helpful to incorporate a no-cost-added automation piece in a new press design to accommodate different potential capabilities. Such options may include extra inputs and outputs on a press controller to integrate with future equipment, Ethernet communications connectivity for future press data collection or potential robotic integration, plus extra controller programmable memory to expand functionality.

In instances where a manufacturer may already have one or more presses, a press manufacturer/system integrator can offer technical expertise to get automation projects moving in the right direction.


There are many reasons manufacturers may decide to automate their presses. Greenerd is among those vendors that can provide engineering support by presenting potential automation solutions, detailed machine configurations, targeted achievable future cycle rates, and different pricing options for each. After acceptance and installation, providing on-site startup, operator and maintenance training, will bring the automation solution successfully into production.

The most readily realized benefits of automation include increasing throughput and reducing cycle times; reducing waste; increasing quality and parts consistency; lowering production costs; creating easy changeovers; gaining more accurate metrics; freeing up employees for other tasks; reducing or eliminating bottlenecks; and increasing press utilization rates.

Whether a metalformer wants to buy a new press or make an existing press installation more efficient, it’s best to start by talking with a press manufacturer that has long experience integrating automation to and around a press. The value such expertise can bring to an operation can eliminate headaches and provide the best foundation for the future.

Rob Bisbee is an automation team leader for Greenerd Press & Machinery Co. Inc., Nashua, New Hampshire, 603/889-4101,