- The purpose of this project was to research, design and build a shoe press for a local company called Soft Star Shoes. Soft Star Shoes were looking for different ways to replace their barging process, which is the process of attaching the rubber sole of the shoe to the upper leather. To perform this process, Soft Star Shoes used hammering, which was physically straining, caused operators to get frustrated, as well as, slowed the production process.
After receiving the problem description and customer requirements, a decision to go with an automated press was made. The team researched existing shoe presses to use as benchmarks in the design process. The team then performed ergonomic analysis to understand the severity of the problem, and stress-strain and reliability analyses to find maximum loads, and fracturing points. In addition, the team interviewed Soft Star Shoes barge employees to determine the requirements that needed to be met for the press to be considered a good replacement for the hammering process.
Using this information, the team designed and built a shoe press that meets the customer’s needs. The new device is a 17” by 17” by 12” press that is held by five vertical columns. These columns are attached to two 0.5” thick steel plates (one on the top and one on the bottom). The press is powered using a 115 V ball screw device, which is inserted through a hole in the top steel plate, and carries a 14” x 14” x 0.5” pressing plate. The device travels a vertical distance of 10” to perform the pressing process. Tests were started upon finishing the design process. The tests were conducted based on the engineering requirements generated. The press passed all these tests, which meant that the team has achieved the sponsor’s needs. However, the project was not done at that point. The press was dirty and the steel was rusted. So cosmetic operations were performed. Cleaning, Painting and adding lights to the press were a critical factor in delivering a good-looking press. After completing the cosmetics, the press was delivered to the sponsoring company.
Furthermore, the press had a big impact on Soft Star Shoes’ production floor. It allowed the company to replace the existing barging process, which improved their ergonomic rating, as well as, their shoe output. Operators did not need to apply any physical force to barge the shoes, which reduced the chances of musculoskeletal disorders within the company’s walls. In addition, the new press barged a pair of shoes in 4 minutes and 5 seconds, which meant more than a 60% improvement on the process output.