Modern Machine Shop

DEC 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Page 73 of 115

MMS DECEMBER 2018 72 FIVE-A XIS MACHINING The Art of Shopfloor Efficiency When the Great Recession hit Linda Tool, leadership for the 66-year-old machine shop decided against cutting staff. Instead, they made a series of strategic investments and decisions around five-axis machining that has allowed them to scale up the business without increasing headcount. At 5 a.m. on most days, Robert Robles begins his shift at a machine shop in the Red Hook neigh- borhood of Brooklyn, New York. Like many other manufacturers of machined components, the floor of this shop, called Linda Tool, is laid out in rows of machines—vertical lathes, multitasking machines and multi-axis machining centers— all of which Mr. Robles tends. Out of nearly 30 employees at Linda Tool, Mr. Robles is the only person who knows the idiosyncrasies of each machine: He knows how to change the filters for several different models of machining centers, how to check and replenish the oil, measure coolant concentrations, remove chips and restock raw material. When he is finished, Mr. Robles notes the fluid levels on a clipboard attached to each machine, all of which are lined with papers that detail setup instruc- tions, cycle times, programs numbers and workholding settings. Mr. Robles, now in his mid 50s, is considered a highly skilled employee. He can thoroughly clean and recal- ibrate a machine in less than half a day—a feat that used to take a dedi- cated machine operator two days. But this story is not about Mr. Robles, as much as he may deserve the tribute. In fact, the cost savings that Linda Tool realizes from having an employee dedicated to machine maintenance may seem like an ordinary personnel choice for any small to midsize machine shop. However, when you consider what Mr. Robles encounters on his daily rounds—custom setup instructions clipped to each machine, high-priced inspection equip- ment placed strategically in the middle of the shop f loor, customizable fixturing and workholding units, multiple five-axis machining centers, and unusual tooling choices—it becomes clear that Linda Tool has made a series of smart decisions aimed at getting more out of each machining cycle and streamlining its operations. After a visit earlier this summer, it is also clear that those deci- sions have been highly effective. So what precipitated the company's highly strategized operation, and how do the compo- nents of that operation boost its bottom line? The second answer is what this story will provide in detail. The first answer is easy: The Great Recession. BRENT DONALDSON | SENIOR EDITOR

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