A little over seven months ago UEA stepped up capacity to manufacture our line of high-quality custom designed hydraulic swivels by moving into our new addition with our CNC hydraulic swivel production equipment. At that time I had made the comment that we should be set for quite some time regarding meeting the production needs of our customers. Well, that time has passed sooner than anticipated. As new customers join us, as well as having new projects arrive from existing customers, we are already finding ourselves in the struggle to streamline processes for greater capacity and throughput.
At this point, several different aspects of the production process must be evaluated by the various department leaders so that each area is confident they have removed as many obstacles and difficulties to get the best from both employees and equipment. Everything from getting material to the next needed location to making sure proper P.M. is done on the machinery to avert unnecessary down time.
When focusing on the production capacity of the large mill/turn, CNC equipment is used to machine the parts for hydraulic swivels, spindle time is top priority. If it isn’t making chips, it isn’t advancing the schedule. What can we do to minimize the dead time?
Because United Equipment Accessories manufactures custom hydraulic swivels, there is always something new and different about each project. One of the large time consuming parts of a new project is to prove out the programming that controls the cutting operations. Each and every move that takes place by the machine tool to take a piece of raw steel or ductile iron from a blank to a finished part ready for deburring, cleaning and assembly is defined by the “g-code” in the CNC control. This code is generated by a programmer using the complete 3-D model of the part along with a software package. Once the programmer has created this code, it is then “proven” on the machine by stepping through the code line by line to be sure all moves are correct and don’t collide with any portion of the part or machine. This can take considerable time that is not producing a part, or is doing it at a much slower pace than would be the case with a qualified, proven part program.
We are currently in the process of implementing an additional software package that will be able to do a full in machine simulation of the completed part program on a PC, bypassing the need to step through the program on the machine tool, greatly increasing the available spindle time, as well as preventing collisions that can cause scrap and/or damage to the machine tool and cost valuable time. This means more capacity with the same equipment and staff.
We at United Equipment Accessories will continue to increase our capacity and capabilities to meet the current and future needs of our customers.