Southwest Manufacturing News October 2014 : Page 64
Applying Technology Automation • Machines • Spindles • Tooling • Software • Workholding An Engineering Approach That Works Achieving First Part Precision Gearench produces more than 40 different product lines for the oil industry that are used for exploration, drilling, production, refining and com-pletion. To keep up with de-mand for these unique products, Gearench faced the challenge of increasing pro-duction while maintaining its high quality standards. According to Zack Fehler, Manufacturin g En gineer, Gearench, the adjustments re-quired for modular and ad-justable tooling systems left too much potential for error, resulting in long set-up time and scrapped parts. The com-pany sought a way to elimi-nate these problems. Gearench’s solution was to implement a tool presetter, which enables precise pre-set-ting of adjustable round tool diameters (i.e., boring bars, ec-Boring a 3.206” diameter hole with an 8” depth of centric drills). The company cut, while holding a tolerance of +/-0.0025”. selected the Speroni MAGIS 400 tool presetter for its precision and the machining center, which is valued at $75 an hour. ease of use. Presetting each tool on the MAGIS On average, Fehler sets two boring Tool Presetter takes 2.5 minutes, for an heads per job. In the past, touching off each tool in the machine, making a test average total of 5 minutes per job. This cut and adjusting each tool would take means less time spent by an operator, about 20 minutes, for a total of 40 min-and no spindle time is taken away Continued on Page 68 utes per job. This was all downtime on “Defense and aerospace part manufacturing require a different business approach altogether,” said Tim Smith, CEO of Smiths Machine. Smiths Machine, a second-genera-tion, family-owned business, did what many machine shops were doing be-fore the recession. They were riding the wave of automotive parts production and doing seemingly fine, until the massive downturn came. The bank-ruptcies of the tier one automotive companies suddenly left many ma-chine shops vulnerable to volume-based supply from overseas competition. A once well-oiled ma-chine tool business model now seemed unstable and uncertain. Equally uncer-tain was the idea of moving the busi-ness in an entirely different direction. “Defense and aerospace part man-ufacturing require a different business approach altogether,” said Tim Smith, CEO of Smiths Machine. “It is special-ized work that requires special ap-provals, log-down processes and complicated procedures. The complex-ity is challenging. It all starts with a dif-ferent way of thinking, with more of an engineering approach than a produc-tion approach. Our company needed to build a new business model and the operations to support it.” The defense and aerospace ma-chining market is characterized by small lot counts, generally lower mar-gins and a very low tolerance for er-Angled-head cutting rors. Scrap rates thought to be nominal in the past would now be out of the question. “You cannot make a $6,000 part and have a 30% scrap rate or even a 10% scrap rate,” explained Smith. “The emphasis is not on throughput, but on the high quality, highly precise manu-facturing of very complex parts.” Based on these three inseparable machining requirements -quality, pre-cision and complexity -Smiths Ma-chine set out to reach its greater potential in the machine tool market, not as a production machine shop, but as company focused on complex part manufacturing. Having achieved some early success in this new direction, the way forward for the company soon could be summed up more simply: “The more complex the part, the more competitive we are,” said Smith. To protect and grow this competi-tive advantage, the company’s leader-ship knew that their internal processes and technology needed to match up with the unique requirements of the defense and aerospace industries. Major investments in large, complex, 5-axis machines would need to be en-hanced by equally complex control capabilities. Smith recounted how a decision made previously by the com-pany would now come into play in a pro-found way. Traditionally a milling and turning com-pa n y, S mi t h s Machine first teamed up with DMG and Sie-mens in the year 2000 to es-tablish its sin-gular machine tool platform. This brought Continued on Page 66 Holding Tighter Tolerances ducing the needed surface finishes and blends. The ma-chines were old and tired, breaking down on a regular basis and driving up mainte-nance costs and lowering production. “We were at a point where we were reevaluating the way we did everything,” said Mark Ames, President, Mainland Machine. “If there was a more efficient way to do things, we were willing to explore it and find the best way to move forward. “Our first major step took place three years ago, when we invested in two Mori Seiki horizontal mills. With horizontal milling, the ma-chine does not have to be de-voted to a single part for weeks at a time; the ma-With KME CNC’s 5-axis tombstone and a 5-axis vise, chines are capable of running there is no need to make custom fixtures for the first multiple jobs simultane-operation of 5-axis machining. ously.” Mainland Machine, a contract Five-axis machining has been a manufacturer of precision machined major part of Mainland Machine’s pro-components specializing in close toler-duction for quite some time. “The ance CNC production, needed to in-more surfaces that can be machined c re a s e e ff i c i e n c y a n d i m p ro v e without letting go of the part, the more machining reliability. Current machin-precise the part will be,” said Ames. ing operations were problematic, due “Constantly letting go of a part and to the machines being incapable of pro-Continued on Page 69 64 October 2014 • SOUTHWEST MANUFACTURING NEWS • www.mfgnewsweb.com
An Engineering Approach That Works
Smiths Machine, a second-generation, family-owned business, did what many machine shops were doing before the recession. They were riding the wave of automotive parts production and doing seemingly fine, until the massive downturn came. The bankruptcies of the tier one automotive companies suddenly left many machine shops vulnerable to volumebased supply from overseas competition. A once well-oiled machine tool business model now seemed unstable and uncertain. Equally uncertain was the idea of moving the business in an entirely different direction.
"Defense and aerospace part manufacturing require a different business approach altogether," said Tim Smith, CEO of Smiths Machine. "It is specialized work that requires special approvals, log-down processes and complicated procedures. The complexity is challenging. It all starts with a different way of thinking, with more of an engineering approach than a production approach. Our company needed to build a new business model and the operations to support it."
The defense and aerospace machining market is characterized by small lot counts, generally lower margins and a very low tolerance for errors. Scrap rates thought to be nominal in the past would now be out of the question.
"You cannot make a $6,000 part and have a 30% scrap rate or even a 10% scrap rate," explained Smith. "The emphasis is not on throughput, but on the high quality, highly precise manufacturing of very complex parts."
Based on these three inseparable machining requirements - quality, precision and complexity - Smiths Machine set out to reach its greater potential in the machine tool market, not as a production machine shop, but as company focused on complex part manufacturing. Having achieved some early success in this new direction, the way forward for the company soon could be summed up more simply: "The more complex the part, the more competitive we are," said Smith.
To protect and grow this competitive advantage, the company's leadership knew that their internal processes and technology needed to match up with the unique requirements of the defense and aerospace industries. Major investments in large, complex, 5- axis machines would need to be enhanced by equally complex control capabilities. Smith recounted how a decision made previously by the comp any would now come into play in a profound way.
Traditionally a milling and turning company, Smiths Machine first teamed up with DMG and Siemens in the year 2000 to establish its singular machine tool platform. This brought about a synergistic approach to complex milling and turning, an advantage that took on greater significance when the company decided to focus on the defense and aerospace markets later in the decade.
"Siemens controls were available on DMG milling and turning machines, and that was a natural fit for us," Smith recalled. The DMG/ Siemens platform has enabled Smiths Machine to establish and maintain a high level of operational proficiency. The central advantage here, Smith said, has been the ability to invest, train and keep his people moving forward based on a stable technology platform.
"The technology and the people using it are the backbone of our organization," Smith said. "Even with 25 machines, we can share knowledge between the milling and the turning machines. The common control is a Siemens Sinumerik 840D si. Our technology purchases are based on where we want to be in 10 years, not on a workforce that is fractionally trained and a platform that can rapidly deteriorate due to a change in market condition or a change in employment condition."
Smith said an example of this singular platform advantage is the control's similarity across milling and turning operations. "All controls are customized to a certain extent," Smith acknowledged. "But unlike Siemens, many other control series are individually customized so that the keyboard layout will be different from machine to machine. The Sinumerik 840D si CNC is consistent. So when you train your operators, you can say, here is the jog button, here is the axes button, here is your alarm button and your offset button. And this level of consistency extends to a graphical interface that really complements how we teach and learn."
Teaching and learning are closely held values within an organization that uses a breadth of visual techniques to foster education, efficient information sharing and quality control.
"We are a very visual company," Smith said. "We use a lot of colors and we buy a lot of printer toner. Our parts inventory uses colorcoded tags and the same is true across our production. We use yellows and blues and reds for consistent instruction. The Siemens 840D si control uses the same approach. Users are guided visually for such things as axis direction, approach point, final depth and other variables inside a cycle. This is true from control to control, for milling and turning."
Smith said visually guided information flow is characteristic of today's complex range of next-generation electronic communications, because this speeds understanding and information sharing. Whether for a smart phone or a CNC, graphically guided interfaces enable rapid learning and proficiency, a fact that has been well leveraged by the 840D control interface design.
Gerhard Hetzler, Engineering Manager at Smiths Machine, has experienced firsthand how the company's singular platform approach has brought continuity to such manufacturing functions as post, machine simulation, NC code and control functionality.
While the Siemens 840D sl control has evolved in significant ways over the years, Hetzler said these changes have served only to accelerate the performance of the programmers and operators, rather than impede them with new and different procedures. The control platform has also given Smiths Machine the freedom to create custom cycles that can be copied and shared from control to control, and so machine to machine.
"I will give an example," said Hetzler. "To catch occasional entry errors on the tool management side, we created a cycle that checks the length of the tool and within a specific tolerance. Within a matter of milliseconds, the control compares that value to what was entered in the tool management side, and if the tolerance is exceeded by 2 mm, the control immediately stops the machine."
Hetzler said another advantage flowing out of the DMG/Siemens relationship is the continued simplification of complex cutting operations, especially in the area of angular milling heads.
"Siemens has come a very long way to improve the cycles and support related to milling heads," Hetzler said. "Aerospace requires a lot more use of angular milling. Even a 5-axis approach cannot do it. An angular milling head is needed. I would put this on the top of my list of the advantages DMG and Siemens have developed. Additionally, this relates to another important development, Siemens NX."
Siemens NX software integrates CAD, CAE and CAM for faster part manufacturing, encompassing all areas of tooling, machining and quality inspection. NX has become integral to Smiths Machine's CNC platform, because it supports part planning through manufacturing, with the prevention of errors and related costs.
"Our ability to develop all of our own post-processors in house is supported by Siemens NX," Hetzler explained. "We set up our angular milling heads in NX, so we can post the G-code before we even send it out to the machine."
An early introduction to the power of NX came when the company found that it needed to write code to produce an especially challenging aerospace landing gear. The code took six weeks to manually program. This was before the company learned that it could do the same task in nine days using NX.
"Siemens knows 5-axis machining and NX is a Siemens product that leverages 5-axis," Hetzler said. "For example, we can do 3+2 axes work in NX. There is a cycle for that called Cycle 800. So when NX outputs the NC code, the machine then also understands it. Other control brands will have a cycle that can be made to work, but they are a lot more problematic. We are talking about managing the change of plane, a concept that has been around for a long time and was always problematic to do. Now Cycle 800 in NX does it all for you."
Hetzler said Cycle 800 makes programming the change of plane easier, faster and with higher accuracy than traditionally calculated methods. "We would normally round off after the third or fourth decimal," he recalled. "Now the control calculates to nine decimals. When you start talking microns, especially in the aerospace industry, it makes a huge difference. And this difference has been fully implemented by DMG. They have invested a lot of time and money to make sure from their side that Siemens NX and Cycle 800 work 100% of the time."
Smiths Machine's momentum continues to be supported by the DMG/Siemens CNC technology platform and strategic relationships. This support includes Siemens service contracts, expedited motor repairs, direct parts availability and online NX tech support.
Smiths Machine has been able to grow its workforce by 70 people during the last five years. That is a 300% employment surge that mostly happened during the recession, a time when many machine shops (and for that matter, many businesses), were struggling just to hang on.
When Smith and Hetzler talk about how far the company has come during the last five years, they quickly add that there is much more to look forward to. Looking back does help the company's many new employees understand Smiths Machine's heritage and core values, but there is too much shared excitement about looking ahead to ponder over past success.
As to how the company will go about achieving what is yet possible, Smith and Hetzler said they have another five-year plan that will continue to bring together the right people and the right technology - so no secret there.
For more information contact:
Tim Smith, CEO
14120 Hwy 11 North
Cottondale, AL 35453
Siemens Industry, Inc.
Drive Technologies -
390 Kent Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Achieving First Part Precision
Gearench produces more than 40 different product lines for the oil industry that are used for exploration, drilling, production, refining and completion. To keep up with demand for these unique products, Gearench faced the challenge of increasing production while maintaining its high quality standards.
According to Zack Fehler, Manufacturing Engineer, Gearench, the adjustments required for modular and adjustable tooling systems left too much potential for error, resulting in long set-up time and scrapped parts. The company sought a way to eliminate these problems.
Gearench's solution was to implement a tool presetter, which enables precise pre-setting of adjustable round tool diameters (i.e., boring bars, eccentric drills). The company selected the Speroni MAGIS 400 tool presetter for its precision and ease of use.
On average, Fehler sets two boring heads per job. In the past, touching off each tool in the machine, making a test cut and adjusting each tool would take about 20 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes per job. This was all downtime on the machining center, which is valued at $75 an hour.
Presetting each tool on the MAGIS Tool Presetter takes 2.5 minutes, for an average total of 5 minutes per job. This means less time spent by an operator, and no spindle time is taken away from an active machine. Using the MAGIS control, the operator is able to "dial in" a boring head to the exact offset the program requires. This eliminates the test cut, adjustment and re-machining steps - contributing to a 60% reduction in set-up time
"By using the MAGlS presetter, we are able to circumvent many issues that spawn from manual tool setting," said Fehler. "These issues include set-up part repair, re-machining of repaired workpieces, or even scrapped set-up parts. Calculating the time savings alone comes out to $335 per setup - and this is not even accounting for the value of possible scrapped parts." In Gearench's case, with only two tools preset per job and two critical jobs per week, the company saves $81,640 annually.
The presetter has not only reduced set-up time, but has also completely removed the need for allocating additional raw materials for set-up purposes. It has also increased product quality by allowing the company to set, monitor and maintain high tolerance diameters on adjustable round tools. The quality of finished products has increased because of the presetter's ability to prevent out-oftolerance holes due to over- or undersized cutting tools.
Ease of use was another important factor in the choice of this presetter. Fehler explained, "When it comes to integrating new technology, it is important that the end users are able to understand and take advantage of that technology, regardless of their technical background. With the Speroni, this was a smooth process. We began benefiting the day the unit was installed and we have continued to find new ways to use its features throughout various production processes.
"The MAGIS has become a valuable asset to our production process and will continue to be utilized as a major quality engineering tool in our machining processes. The Speroni Tool Presetter has allowed us to maintain our supreme level of quality while simultaneously cutting costs."
Located one mile south of Clifton, TX, Gearench has been producing products for the oil industry for almost 75 years. Its first patented product, the Gearench, is a hand tool for use on small diameter pipes. The company also serves mining, power generation and general industries. It recently added a gear milling facility capable of manufacturing high precision gears of standard and custom tooth geometries with a current size range up to 58" O.D. It maintains a quality system compliant with ISO9001-2008 standard and API Spec Q1.
"Gearench manufactures and distributes an ever-increasing number of high-quality, safe and effective products by utilizing the latest innovations in applied engineering, manufacturing process improvement and quality assurance," said Fehler. "Our goal is to produce products that meet or exceed customer expectations, as well as applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. In pursuit of our goal, Gearench will remain fundamentally committed to developing and implementing policies and procedures that support and encourage safety, honesty, integrity and respect for all employees and our environment. Gearench is committed to meeting customer requirements and increasing customer satisfaction through continual improvement of its products, services and quality management system."
For more information contact:
4450 Hwy. 6 South
Clifton, TX 76634
254-675-8651 ext. 242
BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc.
2600 Huntington Blvd.
Hoffman Estates, IL 60192
Read the full article at http://www.virtualonlineeditions.com/article/Achieving+First+Part+Precision/1822792/226845/article.html.
Holding Tighter Tolerances
Mainland Machine, a contract manufacturer of precision machined components specializing in close tolerance CNC production, needed to increase efficiency and improve machining reliability. Current machining operations were problematic, due to the machines being incapable of producing the needed surface finishes and blends. The machines were old and tired, breaking down on a regular basis and driving up maintenance costs and lowering production.
"We were at a point where we were reevaluating the way we did everything," said Mark Ames, President, Mainland Machine. "If there was a more efficient way to do things, we were willing to explore it and find the best way to move forward.
"Our first major step took place three years ago, when we invested in two Mori Seiki horizontal mills. With horizontal milling, the machine does not have to be devoted to a single part for weeks at a time; the machines are capable of running multiple jobs simultaneously."
Five-axis machining has been a major part of Mainland Machine's production for quite some time. "The more surfaces that can be machined without letting go of the part, the more precise the part will be," said Ames. "Constantly letting go of a part and putting it into another set-up means tolerance is dependent upon the machine operator placing the part correctly and precisely into the fixture."
"We were open to any ideas," said Ames. "After reviewing all of our options, we ultimately selected a KME 5- axis tombstone." This was based on its ability to combine the reliability and flexibility of horizontal machining and the ability to hold tighter tolerances with 5-axis machining. "It was too good to pass up," said Ames.
Another reason for the selection of the KME 5-axis tombstone over a conventional trunnion was costs associated with repairs. "To h a v e a conventional trunnion repaired requires removing it from the mill, crating it and paying freight each way," said Ames. "It can require a three to four week lead time and cause almost unrecoverable costs in production loss. On the other hand, with our KME 5- axis tombstone, the replacement components are light enough to ship by UPS and we can easily replace the components ourselves. So there is no need to ship the whole unit down for repairs. We are even able to perform software updates over the Internet through the use of a USB cable."
KME CNC's 5-axis tombstones provide a way to utilize 5-axis positioning on virtually any machine. All that is required is one M-code, no matter how many indexers are involved. According to the company, the harmonic drive technology used allows a ± 5 arc second repeatability as well as a guaranteed zero backlash for 10,000 hrs.
KME CNC's standard 5-axis tombstone for horizontal machining centers comes with four platters or can be customized, based on customer needs, to include up to eight platters (or even 12). This live tombstone lets customers machine multiple 5-axis work in a single set-up. It allows the operator to index each 5-axis platter independently or simultaneously. "With one set-up, customers never have to remove the workpiece," said a KME CNC spokesperson. "For instance, a custom tombstone with eight platters will have its platters working simultaneously or tombstone with eight platters will have its platters working simultaneously or independently, giving it the ability to share tools with eight different parts, thus minimizing tool changes in addition to producing close tolerance parts and saving a tremendous amount of time."
According to Ames, the 5-axis tombstone has solved their production challenge. "In some cases, we are getting double the production we were getting from our older machines," he said. "We have been making similar parts for years and they have never looked this good. In addition, our deburring department does not have to work on the parts nearly as much."
For one aluminum component in particular, machining time was 23.75 minutes on a vertical machining center (VMC). Using the 5-axis tombstone and an HMC, machining time has been reduced to 16.9 minutes. In addition, it meets the highly precise tooling blends, tight tolerances and fine finishes required by the customer.
Founded in 1983 by Mark Ames, Mainland Machine features a variety of machines and capabilities, including four turning centers (sub-spindle, live tooling, Y-axis), five VMCs (two Okuma M560-V one 5-axis, one pallet changer, up to 45 x 25 table size), two Mori Seiki NH5000 DCGs (spindle speed 14,000 RPM, 240 tool changer,), CAD/CAM (SolidWorks, Esprit) and a rapid prototype machine, and also offers vibratory deburring, laser engraving, and precise, multi-component product assembly services.
For more information contact:
Mark Ames, President
2930 McMillan Ave Unit E
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Robert Reynolds, Director of Sales
1643 West Orange Grove Ave.
Orange, CA 92868
Read the full article at http://www.virtualonlineeditions.com/article/Holding+Tighter+Tolerances/1822802/226845/article.html.