Speeding Up Screw-Machined Production

Businesses need to prepare for an upswing as they do a downswing. Staffing, materials and production are just a few of the areas that need to be adjusted—but when? We at Sandvik Coromant think is should be done now.

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The manufacturing economy is on the verge of a rebound. We’ve been hearing about it for the past few quarters, but the question we keep asking is “When?” It’s a fair question. Businesses need to prepare for an upswing as they do a downswing. Staffing, materials and production are just a few of the areas that need to be adjusted—but when? We at Sandvik Coromant think is should be done now. Who’s to say that we can’t induce the rebound or give it a little shove in the right direction? All we have to do is change our mindset.

A business’ economy is comprised of fixed and variable costs. Labor, machines and buildings are examples of fixed costs. Variable costs are those that occur only during production such as cutting tools, consumables and workpiece materials. Together, these costs represent the total production cost for a product. When businesses need to increase or maintain profits, they try to decrease this total cost.

Sandvik Coromant explored three different ways businesses try to decrease this cost from the perspective of the cutting tool. The first, and most popular, is a discount in the price of the cutting tool itself. Manufacturers may see immediate results, but they are limited. The production cost is only reduced as much as the tooling price decrease because the price reduction has no bearing on any of the other costs (fixed or variable).

A second method is to lengthen the tool life. Even though a 50 percent increase in tool life means manufacturers will purchase fewer tools throughout the production cycle, an enhanced tool life’s effectiveness across the other costs associated with production is non-existent. The total cost reduction as a result of the enhanced tool life is almost identical to that seen in the price reduction

The third possibility is to enhance the tool to handle a 20 percent increase in cutting data. This approach positively affects all of the fixed costs involved in production. An increase inhe cutting speed allows a manufacturer to produce more parts in the same time frame. Fixed costs can be spread across the additional parts manufactured to essentially reduce the cost of production—even if the price of the cutting tool increases.

In the screw-machined parts industry, manufacturers are using turning machines or Swiss machines for enhanced automation that allows manufacturers to make parts with the shortest cycle times. It is possible to do tremendous amounts of volume for weeks at a time completely unattended. Understandably, in an industry where facilities have a one-person to six-machine ratio and success is measured by the total amount of parts produced, enhanced production and reliability are vital.

Sandvik Coromant has focused on delivering new technology that will increase manufacturers’ cutting data, and in turn decrease their total cost of production. We’ve developed inserts and chip breakers that allow for easier machining of stainless steel, titanium and heat-resistant super alloys. New technology has delivered tighter chip breakers, smaller noise radii and sharper cutting edges for lower cutting forces of sticky materials. One insert Sandvik Coromant has developed is the VCEX.

This insert is for general turning and has an e tolerance for the ability to machine small parts with very tight tolerances. It has excellent repeatability, so when an operator indexes the cutting edge few or no adjustments must be made. The VCEX has a smooth polished finish on top to ensure that sticky materials won’t cling. The chip breaker is close to the main cutting edge for low depth of cut, and it has a very sharp cutting edge on both sides so that an operator can cut forward and backward.

The VCEX was developed to give the screw-machined parts industry an advancement in production. Those production increases result in total cost reductions that give the economy the momentum it needs.