Modern Machine Shop

JUL 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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Modern Machine Shop 79 Horizontal Machining Centers For Cayce Washington, two transformative changes paved the way to his shop's success: The first was making the move to CNC technology, the second was adding HMC equipment. Mr. Washington is the owner and president of Valley Tool, located in Water Valley, Mississippi. When he purchased the company from his former employer in 1997 and renamed it, the shop had only manual machines and a couple of punch- tape-programmed knee mills. Recognizing the promise of computer numerical control (CNC), he purchased his first CNC turning center in 1998 and first vertical machining center (VMC) in 1999. It immediately became clear to him how much more productive the shop could be using this equipment in terms of faster, simpler programming and reduced cycle times. After that, Mr. Washington continued to purchase what he describes to be entry-level CNC machines, and the business continued to be profitable each year. However, this success often required him to put in very long hours to get jobs delivered on time. Today, the shop has 25 CNC machines, five of which are horizontal machining centers (HMCs). The HMCs are the costliest pieces of equip- ment in the shop's 35,000-square-foot facility. Understandably, Mr. Washington and his team mulled over numerous questions before pulling the trigger on that first HMC in 2010. During a recent visit to his shop, we ran through some of those initial questions, and I also learned about how the company is now leveraging this machining platform to its advantage. Valley Tool currently has five horizontal machining centers (HMCs). Two that are dedicated to specific jobs have hydraulic clamping devices, which simplify part loading for operators and minimize the chance for work- related injuries.

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