Modern Machine Shop

JAN 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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SHOP EFFICIENCY MMS JANUARY 2018 94 the ones for which the setup can remain in place because the job repeats. So, at first it was the machining opportunity the shop consid- ered when assigning work to this machine, but now work is chosen according to the combina- tion of machining opportunity plus the order quantity plus whether or not the job is part of a contract that will make the work consistent. Manufacturing engineer Luis Hernandez is now dedicated to analyzing machine monitoring data. He looks for both patterns and outliers in the data, in search of non-pro- ductive incidents indicating a process inefficiency that perhaps could be remedied. A large share of his work consists of speaking to production team members to understand why particular production delays occur. The causes are often subtle combinations of multiple factors. The more complex the shop's process becomes and the more it accomplishes for customers, the more vital it is for company President John Bloom and other company leaders to understand at a glance what is happening in the shop, what is coming and what actions they need to take. He shows the real-time overview system he had a software developer custom-build for the shop. It queries the ERP database to compile and calculate the informa- tion he most needs to see. 2. Moving big parts is a big productivity drain. In the case of a two-machine cell for turning parts that are too large to lift manually, the digital analysis of machining performance led to a very low-tech hardware investment. When it was seen that even more time than anticipated was being spent to move parts from one machine to the other in this cell, the shop addressed the inefficiency by installing a gantry rail for a crane to serve these two machines solely. 3. On the question of seven-axis-turning cell utilization, one opinion had it right. For its most sophisticated turning work, the shop established a turning cell consisting of three seven-axis turning centers. Given that these are such highly automated machines that aim to run an entire part complete in one handling, it was assumed that one operator ought to be enough to keep all the machines producing. Some disagreed, however; a different line of thinking among the shop's leadership said that the cell actually justifies two operators. This disagreement might have passed back and forth indefinitely except that the machine- monitoring data settled it. The two-operator position was correct. Utilization numbers for the machines in this cell were the lowest of any equipment in the shop when, if anything, they ought to have been the highest. The addition of more staffing here dramatically increased the amount of machining this cell can do. The shop now has one employee fully dedicated to finding more of these lessons. The company's Luis Hernandez, a manufacturing engineer, has been named the leader of the company's contin- uous improvement team. The potential return on improved capacity utilization resulting from discov- eries like the insights above easily justifies the com- mitment of his time. And a role like his is needed, the company says, because the ultimate cause of any particular period of unproductive time is not necessarily clear and might be the result of multi- ple factors at once. Indeed, Mr. Hernandez alone can't figure it all out. Part of his job is to bring in others' perspectives, asking team members ques- tions about non-cutting periods in order to search for what the cause and the solution might be. He says, "I've been talking a lot to Engineering, and now I've turned my attention to talk to the shop foreman. The next step will be that I'll talk about the data with individual machinists to identify the

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