Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2017

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Page 87 of 220 September 2017 MMS 85 FEATURE Ickler of ten considers whether the job af fords the opportunity to purchase extra raw material. That way, the order can still be met if something goes wrong. Regular communication with cus- tomers and suppliers is also critical. What is the material lead time? Does that radius dimension affect the part's functionality? If not, is such a tight tolerance truly necessary? • Running lights-out . Programming and setup work is for the day shift; lengthy machining routines are for the unmanned night shift. Simple enough, but unattended machining is one area that's completely new for the shop, and Mr. Ickler says it's taken some getting used to. He adds that it's helped in various ways with virtually all the strategies above. "You have to know exactly what your cutting tools, what all your equipment is capable of," he says. "When will that tap break, where should the coolant nozzles be aimed, just how many chips can a machine process in the night, and how and where do they accumulate? You have to think of everything." A commitment to "think of everything" goes beyond unattended machining. Although he's careful to emphasize that he has no illusions about the potential challenges to come, Mr. Ickler is confident that the same mindset that has driven the shop's success so far will continue to do so. He already has layout planned for as many as 20 machines. Nearer-term goals include a dedi- cated quality lab, complete with a dedicated quality manager and a coordinate measuring machine, as well as the addition of an enterprise resource planning system for data management and tracking. The so-called "dungeon"—a back area of the shop used to store raw material and inventory—is already nearing the point where he'd be happy to invite an AS9100 auditor. "It really just needs a material cage," he says. As is the case with the rest of the operation, the tools surrounding documentation and trace- ability may change, but the foundation is already in place. "Honestly, we're not going to be doing things much differently," he says. See us at South-Tec Booth #2405

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