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Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) Helps Advance the Science of Machining at Micro-Mechanics

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) Helps Advance the Science of Machining at Micro-Mechanics


Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) Helps
Advance the Science of Machining at Micro-Mechanics When I started Micro-Mechanics nearly 30 years
ago, you could really think about your business machine by machine. You could uby a fairly
complex piece of equipment but you could bring it in and within a day or two you could be
up running. Those days, in my opinion, are gone. The type of system-built equipment that
we’re running now is much more complex. It’s really all about engineering and you
need very, very strong partner and engineering help from the OEM. In our engineering development line that we’ve
partnered to develop with Makino we have three a61 machines running on the MAS control system.
Our aim is to maximize the productive hours, and for us what that means is to do any and
everything we can to get 168 hours out of each spindle minus a five percent allowance
for service. 24/7 machining means that there are going to be some hours where a human is
not there to attend to a machine or process. Knowing that up front, the number one requirement
is all the machining processes have to be repeatable. And by that we mean that we need
to know that when we start machining we have a predictable quality outcome. The second key fundamental is we need to move
setup from online process to offline processes. We did a lot of careful engineering studies
where we looked across all of the world class manufacturers of machine tools. And, in fact,
when we assembled an engineering group for 24/7 machining we even went to Europe and
looked at some of the best machining companies in the world to try to understand what they
were doing. And from that, we decided that Makino had the leading edge among all other
suppliers. First of all, great, repeatable, robust maintenance-friendly
equipment. And secondly a control system that brings many machines together to act as one,
where we felt that we could automate, truly automate, all of the many process that otherwise
have to be done by humans. When you’re running a business where the
core competence is engineering, we have to apply our engineering skills against real-world
problems. And one of the biggest problems, especially here in the United States, is how
do we close cost gaps, how do we produce faster and faster for a marketplace for our customers
that’s increasingly volatile and unpredictable. We need to not only produce a perfect part,
but we need to do it on time and we need to do it faster and faster in smaller and smaller
batches, and very cost effectively. We think the only way to do all of that, to really
align with the realities of the marketplace, is through 24/7 machining. 24/7 machining
by definition is you’re getting more and more productive hours, those productive hours
lower cost, they reduce cycle time, and sort of the derivative of all that is you can’t
produce lots of hours if you don’t have a great quailty process. So, the 24/7 really brings everything together.
Better costs, better quality, shorter cycle times, smaller batches, that’s really what
our customers are asking for.

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