Precision manufacturer reduces tool set-up time by 66%
May 3, 2013 By Special to Manufacturing AUTOMATION
The demand for the production of defence components is growing by the day in India, and by their very nature, precision manufacture of these components is critical.
For Indian precision manufacturer Associated Tools, that meant the company needed the very latest in manufacturing technology, particularly in the area of machine tools.
Investing only in machines was not enough
When H.J. Bishnu first took charge as director of Associated Tools in 2005, there were various issues surrounding the production techniques. “After investing so much in CNC machines, we were still facing problems with slow machining cycle times, setup idle times, inconsistencies in quality and operator errors,” Bishnu says.
Initially, the process for loading components required manual indexing and a manual dialing system with nine indexing positions. Each manual indexing process took around 45 minutes. This was followed by a further 30 minutes while the machine checked the position, and it made the set up a slow and inefficient process. In addition, the result of manual indexing and operator errors means that the inconsistency in quality was 5 per cent and the rejection rate was 1.5 per cent.
The tool setting process was also manual, which again contributed to time delays each time a new tool was set. Before long, Bishnu, a BTech graduate from the Halida Institute of Technology, realized that investment in CNC machine technology alone was not enough.
The answer? Touch trigger and tool setting probes.
With the introduction of touch trigger probes and OTS contact tool setting probes from Renishaw, Associated Tools began to see dramatic results.
Introduction of a CNC 4th axis and a touch trigger probe makes indexing automatic. For every indexing position, the reference point is set automatically, meaning that the component setting time is reduced to 20 minutes and the rate of scrap is reduced to almost zero percent.
The cable-free optical tool setting and broken tool detection probe also brought about successful process improvements; the tool setting time was dramatically reduced and also benefited from increased accuracy. Even the tool life was optimized.
Associated Tools has proven how the correct integration of touch trigger probes and broken tool detection systems, in combination with the innovative software required, can result in a highly efficient system for the manufacture of precision components for the defence industry.
“Since we started using probes and software, we have been able to consistently manufacture critical components for the defence industry,” Bishnu says. “There has been a reduction of 66 per cent in set up time and we have stopped talking about component rejections and manual errors, as these have been eliminated completely.”