9/1/2003 | 3 MINUTE READ

Lean Setup Times For Screw Machines

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Vanamatic’s Presentation Demonstrates How Easy It Is To Reduce Setup Time And Labor Costs


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Smart companies are always on the lookout for new ways to cut manufacturing costs. Vanamatic (Delphos, Ohio) not only developed a way to reduce setup times on its screw machines, but the 49-year-old manufacturer is also sharing what it learned with other companies.

During a presentation at the PMPA National Technical Conference, Vanamatic demonstrated just how easy it is to achieve faster machine setup times. The presenter also showed how faster setups can make the entire manufacturing operation more efficient.

The setup procedures were videotaped and edited to fit the allotted time for the presentation. In the video, two subjects were shown performing a setup on a machine. The setup involved more than two dozen separate tasks. Unbeknownst to those viewing the video, the two doing the setups had no previous setup experience. Despite their unfamiliarity with the process, they completed the tasks in just 1 hour and 15 minutes.

“We didn’t tell the crowd ahead of time that we had two inexperienced people in the video,” says Jeffrey Wiltsie, one of three co-presidents at Vanamatic. “One was a Vanamatic employee from our engineering department, and the other was from another company. Neither had ever done a setup on a screw machine.”

Before the video was shot, the two inexperienced participants were shown how to operate the equipment, as well as how to change the tools, pushers and collets. They were able to practice on one of Vanamatic’s machines. “They did several practices and actually got the time down to 45 minutes on a setup,” says Mr. Wiltsie.

“We wanted to show that these are things people can take home and use right away,” he continues. “After talking to some of the people in the audience after the presentation, I could see that the guys’ lack of setup experience made a huge impact.”

The reductions in setup times were achieved primarily through practices learned in the Vanamatic shop, according to Mr. Wiltsie. “Not everything that we do in setup reduction is purchased,” he explains. “In fact, most of it is not purchased. Innovative solutions are developed to deal with setup problems. It’s a lot of the things that you do in your own shop that have an impact on your setup time.”

Certain preparations have to be made ahead of time in order to achieve faster setups. “We want to make sure that everybody understands that it’s not just getting in there and doing a fast setup,” explains Mr. Wiltsie. “You have to prepare for the setup and organize your tools. Everything you need has to be close to the machine.”

Mr. Wiltsie says that later, two of Vanamatic’s more experienced employees performed the same setups, just to see how they would do in comparison to the inexperienced team. “The experienced guys were able to do the same setup in 35 minutes and 20 seconds,” he says. “The key to fast setups is the whole company working together. Everybody put their minds together and we came up with a good way to do it.”

According to Mr. Wiltsie, the total number of setups on the company’s Machine No. 104 was 42 in 1996. That number had increased to 100 by 2002. During the same period, Vanamatic was able to reduce the machine’s average setup time from more than 10 hours to about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

For the company’s 22 machines, the total number of setups went from 415 in 1996 to 604 in 2002. With everyone in the company working together towards the same goal, Vanamatic cut its total average setup time by more than half, from 16 1/2 hours to under 7 hours.

The bottom line is that Vanamatic’s 7-year setup reduction program has resulted in a savings of $497,257. When machining capacity savings are factored in, the total savings is $911,638.

“The majority of our setup reduc-tion is home-grown,” sums up Mr. Wiltsie. “We’ve become very aggressive on setup reduction. For one of our guys, it’s like a game. He always wants to beat his best time. A lot of it is just routine and repetition. You do it so often; it becomes automatic.”

Video Available

The 21-minute video, “Reducing Screw Machine Setup Times,” is a useful resource for helping your shop reduce setup times. The video shows the complete chip-to-chip changeover of a 1 5/8-inch Model VNA Conomatic. It documents the entire setup, including pushers, collets, tools and toolholders, showing times for each step.

For a CD-ROM copy of the Vanamatic video, please contact Veronica Ursini at vursini@pmpa.org. All proceeds from the sale of the video help the PMPA Educational Foundation, and the donation is tax-deductible.