Streamlining Your Setup Operations with the Right Workholding System
Creating a powerful manufacturing cell from a one-minute palletization solution.
“Palletization is the future of manufacturing” states Duane Shroyer, VP of manufacturing for the Prospect Mold Company operating out of Cuyahoga Falls, OH. This family- owned machine shop, which was originally founded by current owner Bruce Wright’s father, has grown steady for the past 61 years. They currently employ 110 individuals, making them one of the larger mold manufacturing facilities in North America. What makes them successful at a time when their competition is closing their doors?
Shroyer answers, “First and foremost is our reputation for delivering the highest quality complex compression and injection molds. Second to that is our belief that in order to be successful you must be diverse.”
Prospect Mold utilizes more than 40 machines to produce molds ranging from the automotive industry to the housewares industry. According to Shroyer, they are one of the largest manufacturers of multicolor lens tools in the industry..
Embracing Change as a Necessary Tool for Achieving Goals
Recently, however, they were faced with a serious manufacturing problem. Their current fixturing procedures involved manual setup of parts to their machines often taking up to an hour to complete. This lost manufacturing time was preventing them from competing aggressively in the ever-changing global mold manufacturing market. It became apparent that they needed to implement newer technology, which would allow the fixturing process to be shortened—thus increasing their flow of output.
“The process was very simple,” Shroyer states. “We formed a committee to look into the problem and the possible solutions. I spearheaded the committee, which after more than six months, had narrowed our options down to products offered by three different companies. Although all of our options had plusses and minuses to consider, we were really impressed with the palletization solutions from EROWA Technology, Inc.”
Zero Point Workholding System
The product Shroyer wanted was the EROWA MTS zero point workholding system, which uses a spigot clamping design allowing the customer to easily adapt their work piece directly to the system. These spigots can be mounted directly into the customers existing fixtures or directly into a part (mold base or insert) and moved from machine to machine, virtually eliminating valuable setup time.
Also, the MTS system offers the customer precise part location, reducing the amount of loss associated with inaccurate manual placement. All positions are easily maintained, allowing express jobs to be inserted between programmed jobs without the loss of setup time. The MTS pallet further allows for five-sided machining in one setup, while the standard interface makes the product ideal for any machine. For a company the size of Prospect Mold, this one minute setup solution is an invaluable tool needed to compete in the ever-increasing pace of global manufacturing.
Reduced Setup Time Equals Increased Profitability
The initial phase of this palletizing implementation for Prospect Mold involved approximately 20 percent of their machines. According to Shroyer, they began the change-over initially by implementing the workholding system on just a few of their machines.
Examining the results of the initial implementation plus taking a closer look at their entire machine layout on the manufacturing floor resulted in additional changes that proved to be extremely beneficial to their overall success. Several of the machines, eight in all, could be moved together and when all were equipped with the EROWA workholding system, a powerful manufacturing cell would be created to maximize the flow of output from that particular station. In the future and when other stations are setup accordingly; Prospect Mold would then be utilizing their machines, their employees and their work space to their fullest potential.
The One-Minute Solution and Worth Every Penny
In the manufacturing industry, every minute a machine is not running at full capacity is a minute when a company is losing real manufacturing dollars. With some jobs taking up to an hour for setup and often requiring multiple setups per day, a lot of time as well as dollars can be wasted if this process is not streamlined efficiently.
The EROWA MTS zero point workholding system allowed Prospect Mold to improve its output flow by streamlining setup procedures. The end result is that the shop virtually eliminated setup time and in the long run will be able to save significant manufacturing dollars.
The outcome has been amazing,” states Shroyer. “After months of using the fully integrated system, our manufacturing cell is operating more efficiently than we imagined possible. I honestly believe that palletization is the next big thing in manufacturing. This new MTS zero point workholding system by EROWA not only enabled us to achieve our goal of reducing setup time, but it also helped us improve our accuracy. It was a one-minute solution and worth every penny,” he adds.
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