At Bent River, we engineer, design, fabricate, build, and install a range of factory tooling and ground support projects.

From simple tooling projects where we fabricate, assemble and test a customer provided design package to large and complex projects that require an engineering phase prior to fabrication, Bent River supports your manufacturing process and your ability to handle and manipulate your product.

Customers can jump past tooling phases based on what is needed to meet their requirements.

Every new tooling project goes through a specific process

  • STEP 0: Customer Specification Phase
  • STEP 1: Project Proposal Phase
  • STEP 2: Concept Phase
  • STEP 3: Design Phase
  • STEP 4: Fabrication Phase
  • STEP 5: Assembly Phase
  • STEP 6: Test, Training and Delivery Phase

Step 0: Customer Specification Phase

The moment you contact Bent River Machine to request a bid or make a proposal to partner on a project, we make sure that we understand your needs. Before discussion begins, Bent River always executes a mutual non-disclosure agreement so that both parties are comfortable sharing their processes, ideas and solutions.

The custom tooling projects that we support begin in several different ways. Sometimes customers invite our engineering team to visit their line and make recommendations on methods that their manufacturing process can be improved. These recommendations then become general specifications for new manual or semi automatic tooling. Some customers know exactly what they want and come to Bent River with a detailed proposal. We work together with their engineering and operators to design and build the tooling that our customer requires.

Step 1: Project Proposal Phase

As soon as we have agreed upon the tooling that needs to be proposed, either through a discovery and interview process or from an actual specification that the customer provides, Bent River will go to work formulating a formal proposal.

Bent River will provide a proposal for the tooling with a time line, cost and protocol for test, training and delivery. This document will also include some sort of written or three dimensional definition of your tooling.

Once all of the details about the project and the basic needs are discussed, and the purchase order placed; the engineering team enters into the planning of the actual design and implementation of your tooling.

Step 2: Concept Phase

During the concept design phase Bent River Machine will:

  • Analyze risks and work to eliminate or reduce them
  • Conduct failure analysis and time studies
  • Analyze and comply with ergonomic requirements
  • Create a three-dimensional rendering of the tooling that can be examined and manipulated to determine its function
  • Communicate with the customer team to ensure the tool being designed is meeting the needs of production.
  • The customer will finalize their specification and provide any product or existing equipment that will be integrated into the current project.
  • Complete a Design Review where Bent River and the customer get together to determine that the concept will meet the needs of their manufacturing department.

Once the customer approves the machine concept, it goes into the design phase where every piece is drawn and all the hardware and purchased pieces are defined.

Step 3: Design Phase

During this phase Bent River Machine creates all the documentation so the machine can be built and the design captured. You will receive a complete set of this documentation as part of our deliverable when you receive the machine.

We manage our design projects visually in our facility, working closely with both customers and vendors to avoid delays in the schedule due to missing information. Customers are always notified of scheduled critical path issues as well.

Mechanical Design

If the project includes semi-automatic or automatic tooling, there could be pneumatic or electrical design as well. This process will begin with a block diagram that will become an electrical on pneumatic schematic. Ergonomic design and safety will also be part of the detail design phase to ensure that operators are as comfortable and safe as possible while operating the tooling. Each individual part will be listed with all of its hardware and the other components required as well before going into the actual building phase.

Controls Design

If the tooling requires an actual axis of motion, the tooling will have a PLC or some other device and is programmed by a controls engineer. This engineer will use proven blocks of code for standard processes, then tie those blocks together to provide for the unique characteristics of your piece of automation.

We have significant experience with many different Programmable Logic Computers (PLC) architectures in our automation. In our own designs, we often specify WAGO and Code Assist, a universal set of routines for PLCs. In collaboration with our client, we select the PLC and Human Machine Interface (HMI) to meet their needs and minimize the time it takes to write the logic for the motion in a machine.

The majority of our tooling projects are either manual or pneumatic tooling. They may include purchased assembly devices such as ultrasonic welders, screw guns, lift assisting tools, and many variations on positioning tools. There are many tools that are already designed and available as a purchased component that could be integrated into a tooling project. These devices would be part of the concept and specified in the design.

Step 4: Fabrication Phase

Once the project has been designed and everyone involved approves of the design, the project then goes out to our machine shop. This phase of the process is where the drawing takes shape into a three-dimensional component. With a full complement of CNC and manual machines, we bring the design to life.

Click here to download our complete equipment list.

Occasionally, as fabrication progresses, a problem with the fit arises or an interference occurs. Our shop always budgets time in the schedule in order to account for possible issues and promptly solve them. This allows us to compress lead times and increase our design success.

Step 5: Assembly Phase

This is the exciting phase when your tooling is put together. The fabricated components are brought together and assembled according to the approved drawings. This phase usually progresses quickly depending on the complexity of the tooling.

Step 6: Test, Training, and Delivery Phase

Testing the product is an important part of ensuring its quality, and that it works as the specifications require. Depending on the complexity of the tool, some customers bring their operators to our facility to evaluate and buy-off the project. Occasionally we do the buy-off on film and ship the tooling to the customer. Bent River is available and committed to getting the tool integrated into our customer’s manufacturing line.

Ready to get started?

The Bent River Machine team would like to assist you to determine and define the processes in your business that can be improved by custom automation or custom tooling. Call us today 928-863-3850 or send an email to find out how to become more efficient in your business.