Right Barfeed For The Job

In today's competitive marketplace customers demand products that are better, cheaper and delivered faster. This, of course, means manufacturers constantly struggle to improve both productivity and product quality.


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In today's competitive marketplace customers demand products that are better, cheaper and delivered faster. This, of course, means manufacturers constantly struggle to improve both productivity and product quality.

Fifty-year-old Norman Noble, Inc. (Highland Heights, Ohio) manufactures a variety of close tolerance products for aerospace, energy, medical, telecommunications and other demanding customers. Many are proprietary, and some are developmental. This means production runs range from one-offs to tens of thousands of pieces.

"Obviously this flexibility requires our skilled machine operators to apply their talents in the right place at the right time," says Gary Thomas, director of operations for Norman Noble. "For large volume runs, this means as much unattended production as possible by using high precision Swiss-type machines matched with stable, reliable barfeeders."

To achieve the proper marriage of screw machines to bar feeding equipment, Norman Noble, Inc. considered several factors, including the size and type of bar stock involved, nature of the products being machined and run volumes.

"One key for us is flexibility," says Scott Rymer, manufacturing engineer for Norman Noble's Swiss business unit, "and the other is reliability. Our bar feeders must give us the versatility we need to efficiently make the wide range of products our customers demand.

"You really need to do your homework when selecting barfeeders," he adds. "There are a lot of considerations involved, so make sure you nail down your requirements and that you get accurate information about barfeed options." After Norman Noble researched which barfeeders would work best, it chose those from LNS America (Cincinnati, Ohio). "We worked closely with the applications people from LNS America," Mr. Rymer says. "They had the range of equipment and the technical expertise we needed."

Norman Noble has 14 Swiss-type machines in operation. Each is matched with a specific LNS America barfeeder. Among the models in use are the Hydrobar and Hydrobar Express hydraulic, automatic loaders and the Tryton and Mini Sprint automatic barfeed magazines. "Some of these stations let us easily run a variety of parts, while others give us the barfeed capacity to operate ‘lights out' unattended high volume runs," Mr. Rymer says.

"We see this ability to efficiently produce close tolerance parts in both small and large quantities as a great competitive edge. It gives us a niche few others can claim.

"Of course, to do this properly you need both high precision screw machines and a stable barfeed system. All of the LNS America units we have are designed to keep vibrations out of the spindles so we can stay within customer-required tolerances. These barfeeders are also easy to learn and use, so we save a lot of operator time setting up runs."

Mr. Thomas says better worker usage and improved uptime improve operating efficiency 30 to 40 percent. "The LNS America barfeeders are extremely reliable," he says.

Not too many years ago manufacturers would tell customers, "Sure you can have your products faster, cheaper or better. Pick any two." Today customers demand—and get—all three, or they find new suppliers. Companies such as Norman Noble, Inc. recognize this and rise to the challenge by applying technology to improve operating efficiency and product quality.

As Mr. Thomas says, "The more efficient we are, the better we satisfy our customers, and the more successful we become."

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