Minimizing Personnel with Unattended Operations
Once a machine is cutting parts, the operator is free to perform other duties. It makes sense that the longer the machine can run unattended, the more of these other duties the operator would be able to perform.
For the foreseeable future, shops will always need skilled operators and setup people to ensure the production of quality parts. There are certain parts of shopfloor operations that require a human touch. But once a machine is cutting parts, the operator is free to perform other duties. It makes sense that the longer the machine can run unattended, the more of these other duties the operator would be able to perform.
One shop we covered in the past takes full advantage of the idea of unattended operations. It’s a one-man show at Southwest Ohio Swiss Turn, where shop owner Mike Mauro sets up his machine and then uses cameras to monitor the operation from his desk while he performs other important company functions. It’s a pretty cool setup that he plans to continue to cultivate. “For many shops, trying to get the labor costs down is a key to being competitive,” he says. “However, these shops are often dealing with legacy issues and company cultural biases that can make such changes difficult. I’m blessed with a clean slate and believe that running unattended as much as possible is the future. My plan is to organically grow an unattended machining operation from the beginning.” Read more about his story in “Running Remotely.”
A key ingredient to unattended operations in a turning shop is the bar feeders. Edge Technologies recently introduced its most economically priced magazine bar feeder for round, square and hexagonal barstock in a diameter range of 3 to 20 mm and lengths up to 12 ft. The Scout 320 is designed for rigidity and durability. It features a two-pusher system, propelled by a toothed belt for accuracy that reduces overall length of the unit by as much as 4 feet. Check out the product details of this bar feeder here.
Urethane spindle liners present a viable option to steel to fill the gap between spindle ID and bar OD. They protect both the spindle and bar stock and increase machine performance.
Manufacturing cells are used to minimize product movement as well as materials, equipment and labor during the manufacturing process. By reducing cycle times and material handling, these cells help shops more easily meet customer demands regarding cost, quality and leadtimes.
Here’s a review of the workholding and workhandling challenges a shop faces as it moves a part through a robotic cell, from serving up the blanks to the transfer of the final workpiece to post processing and gaging. Productivity, Inc. takes the reader through a few of their cells that they've installed using Fanuc robots and a variety of other machine tool equipment.