Bradbury’s Flat Trak CL measures, displays and makes automated adjustments to the leveler.
Intuitive software analyzes material shape and offers correction suggestions
BY Lauren Duensing

eveling is an experience-driven profession,” says Brownie Cox, leveler product manager for The Bradbury Co. Inc., Moundridge, Kansas. “As the strip moves through the line, it is ever changing, and the operator must react to these changes, making knowledgeable adjustments to counter the wave problems.”

Without an experienced operator at the helm, levelers can create a lot of expensive scrap. “New people require experience to get things set up right,” Cox says. “Scrap is the result of adjustment errors and inexperience. The second issue is inattentiveness. It is difficult to watch the strip all the time.”

Automatic adjustment
Turning to technology takes some of this burden off the operator. Bradbury has developed the Flat Trak CL Strip Evaluation System, which integrates laser-based diagnostic technology into the line to analyze the shape of the material’s surface. The process happens in real time and is displayed on the operator’s screen as a three-dimensional topographical view.

If the system detects abnormalities like edge wave or loose center problems, it will suggest a remedy to be selected by the operator or it can automatically make changes to the leveler rolls to correct the problem. If further adjustments are needed, another suggestion will appear. Once the material is flat within I-Unit standards (a measurement that incorporates the height of the off-flat condition and the peak-to-peak length of a repeating wave), the software will continuously monitor shape.

“In most cases, reduced scrap rates will pay for the Flat Trak CL,” Cox says. “The lasers in the system never get tired and correct changes well before the operator can see them. The luxury of this system is that it creates a product that is the same across all shifts and operators.”

Flat Trak’s monitoring is performed before the material is sheared, reducing scrap output.
The lasers in the system never get tired and correct changes before the operator sees them.
brownie cox, bradbury co. inc.
He points out that assisting new or learning operators with making correct decisions to address out-of-shape material was a “major focus of the development of Flat Trak CL. This system will also free up experienced operators to work on other production-line tasks. Flat Trak is on duty 24/7 and can relieve fatigue caused by continuously monitoring material shape issues, only notifying the operator in case of serious defects.”

One Bradbury customer even used its Flat Trak system with an operator hired from a temp agency. This operator “had never seen a coil of steel,” Cox says. The crane operator would load the coil, and the temp employee would thread the material into the line, push the auto button and walk to the stacker and stack the sheets as they came off the shear, working 50 feet away from the leveler. “The Flat Trak CL made all the adjustments automatically. These sheets had a spec of +/- 0.010 flatness.”

Working together
The Flat Trak CL’s capabilities are “specifically united” to Bradbury’s e-Drive system, Cox says, which has two independent drive sections to avoid material “bunching,” thereby equalizing internal stresses and delivering what Bradbury terms “process flat” metal strip. “Other leveling systems have various adjustment scenarios that are not compatible. If you have a Bradbury leveler, updates are available to add a Flat Trak CL to your line,” Cox says.
The Bradbury Co. Inc., Moundridge, Kansas, 800/397-6394, bradburygroup.com.