Manufacturer Shaves 56% Off Machine Set-up Time

Manufacturer Shaves 56% Off Machine Set-up Time

Success Stories

An established, family-owned manufacturer of precision engine parts for aviation clients needed to boost productivity on the company’s turning machines. Improvement methods, which would focus on set-up time reduction, had to maintain exact tolerances for the parts and safe practices for employees.

Daniel Penn worked with seven members of the company’s production and engineering team to reduce set-up times on a state-of-the-art vertical turning lathe (VTL). The team set an overall goal of reducing the set-up time by 40 to 60 percent. What they learned in making process improvements for this machine’s set-up would be transferable to all other turning machines in the facility.

The team videotaped and analyzed a set-up process for the VTL; the initial set-up was timed at 59 minutes. The team found a number of wastes in the set-up: The machine had only one quick change tool holder. Only slow hand tools were available, these were inadequate for the job. For each set-up, the operator had to leave the work area to find other tools, supplies, and containers. The operator had no advance knowledge of the next job, which reduced his ability to plan for its set-up requirements.

Improvement Ideas
Based on their observations on the VTL set-up and their experiences with other machine set-ups, the company’s team identified 39 improvement ideas, including

  • Implementing a notification system for upcoming jobs
  • Having all set-up tools ready before the next job
  • Adding quick-change tooling for all possible stations
  • Having the right set-up tools at each machine
  • Employing faster hand tools
  • Wireless connectivity for machine programming

Trial Run of Revised Set-up Process
The team then ran a set-up trial on the turning machine. For the trial run, they purchased faster hand tools and made sure that they were organized on a tool cart. In addition, they prepared and had everything that was needed for the set-up ready at the station while the last job was still running.

Tool table with tools lined up

They found that the hand tools and the advance preparation saved 14 minutes off of the set-up time. They also identified ways to save 19 more minutes. The quick-change toolholder was much faster than standard toolholders. Moving to all quick-change toolholders will save approximately 15 minutes. Purchasing additional hand tools will save another 2-3 minutes per set-up. And during the tool change, returning the tool turret to the home position more quickly will further save 2-3 minutes per set-up.

Results of the First Trial
The team’s actual plus estimated savings of 33 minutes per set-up is a 56 percent reduction in the machine’s original 59-minute set-up time. Once implemented across the facility, this will gain the operation thousands of hours of machine time each year.

Carrying Improvements Forward
Based on its observations and the trial run of an improved-tooling set-up on the machine, the team created an action plan to complete the implementation on this VTL. The site management team, in conjunction with set-up team members, will determine how to roll out the concepts learned and improvements made to the rest of the turning operation and then to the entire facility.

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