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Sliding head CNC automatic solves problems

An Irish subcontractor’s CAM automatic lathes could not cope with large batches that needed complex secondary milling and drilling operations so it bought a Tornos Deco 2000.

In County Wexford, Ireland, Mann Engineering manufactures components for the medical, oil and gas, electrical engineering and hydraulic sectors in batch sizes from one off up to 100,000 parts When confronted with demands for machining large batches of parts that needed complex secondary milling and drilling operations, the company’s existing cam automic lathes could not cope.

So the company set out to buy a CNC sliding head automatic lathe.

Director at Mann Engineering, Rolf Fuhrmann, said: "The acquisition of a Tornos Deco 2000 was the difference between us winning and losing a major contract." The difference in accuracy between the Tornos and the previous cam-operated automatics lathes (autos) had not only reduced cycle times and labour costs but also had improved the quality and repeatability of its components.

Fuhrmann continued: "We used to have 14 cam autos, but the addition of CNC technology has eliminated all of these machines.

The Deco 2000 replaced four cam autos alone.

When set up it runs with little operator intervention and this allows us to run the machine ‘lights out’.

Eliminating the need to have an operator at the machine at all times and running lights out enables us to manufacture components up to five times faster".

However, these improved cycle times are not only a result of the ‘lights-out’ capability but also the productivity levels of the Deco 2000.

The Tornos utilises its sub spindle and driven tooling to slash production times, typically from 2 min 30s to just 38s on one part in a family of fittings that complete an assembled unit.

The components required five operations, including turning, cross drilling, cross milling and tapping.

They used to be passed onto milling machines for secondary operations after turning to complete the parts.

Fuhrman said that an additional benefit was the freeing up of capacity from Mann’s milling section.

The secondary operations in the milling section have fallen by 70% since the Tornos arrived.

He said: "This has been a revelation to us.

The family of five parts are produced in 30,000 batches up to three times a year; with such quantities the savings are considerable".

The above family of parts was part of an order dating back over seven years that Mann Engineering was finding increasingly difficult to maintain with its cam autos.

Without the Tornos Deco, the ability to meet increasingly demanding lead times would have become impossible and the job would have been passed to a South African manufacturer.

Manufacturing manager at Mann, Gerry Neads said: "With the customer demanding the parts on a continually reducing lead time with cost reductions the order was becoming unfeasible to maintain.

However, the Tornos has reduced cycle times by approximately 75% and we can now maintain this project".

* ‘De-pipping’ parted-off parts – another area that the Tornos has delivered savings is the ‘de-pipping’ of turned parts.

Neads explained that parts were coming off the cam autos with small pips from where parts had been parted-off.

So a second operation was to remove the pips on a hand-operated abrasive belt grinder.

An operator would stand over the abrasive belt grinder de-pipping the simple pin parts for long periods when Mann ran batch runs, but, said Neads, the operation is no longer necessary, when using the Tornos Deco 2000.

He said: "The sub spindle can collect the pins and conduct rear end working to completely eliminate the problem.

However, the accuracy levels achieved by the Tornos have allowed us to remove this pipping process from most parts by just parting off without back working.

This has saved us over six weeks a year in labour and cycle times".

Neads added: "Like many manufacturers, some large batch contracts of simplistic parts have been lost to low cost economies.

This has changed the landscape of our business and we are continually conducting more and more work in the one to 100,000 batch range".

He concluded: "The capability of the Tornos Deco enables quick delivery, credit to its exceptional accuracy, reliability and lights-out manufacturing capability that combines with the high specification of the machine that eliminates secondary operations."

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