AUTOMATED EDM INCREASES CAPABILITIES AND REDIRECTS LABOR COSTS
Over the past 20 years, Moldmakers Inc. has developed an expertise in the mold industry with a specialty in single- and multi-shot injection molding, blow molding and die cast tooling. Since its original inception, the Germantown, Wisconsin company has evolved into the MGS Mfg. Group, a family of individual companies design to work as one. Moldmakers has continued its role as a mold builder.
According to Scott Spitza, EDM specialist at Moldmakers, in the past decade, average project lead time has decreased dramatically. "Nine years ago, the average lead time on our projects was about eight weeks. "Now, I would say it is down to four weeks. While delivery times have been cut in half, we must still keep delivering the high-quality molds that our customers have come to expect."
In response to these dwindling lead times, Moldmakers evaluated its processes and realized an equipment upgrade would let them take on additional projects that had extremely short lead times. At the heart of the upgrade was a pair of Makino EDNC65 RAM EDM machines.
After investigating the options to drive out even more costs, the company decided to automate the Makino cell with a System 3R WorkMaster robot. "We saw this as an opportunity to put two machines together to shrink our lead time and finish molds quicker," says Spitza. "It gives us the capability of machining a core and cavity in separate machines at the same time.
"For example, we had a job that required approximately 80 electrodes, many of which were common between the core an cavity =molds. The mold had a three-week delivery that required a full week o EDM work. The new automated cell allowed us to more easily meet the customer’s needs."
Spitza says that the cell is paying for itself quickly. Daily machine operating uptime has more than doubled, while operational costs have been reduced from redirected labor. And most importantly, more and more jobs with short lead times are coming to Moldmakers after the upgrade in capabilities and capacities.
"From the time the cell was up and running, we have averaged 21 operational hours a day per machine," says Spitza. "if the current pace continues, we will have stretched our annual operating time for those tow Makino EDMs to 15,288 hours, an increase of over 100%. As a result, the company has been able to drive out additional manufacturing costs by redirecting a significant percentage of labor."
Those gains have also been helped by Makino’s SuperSpark power supply that works to reduce roughing times, regardless of the shape, size oar cavity depth.
Spitza says, "In early testing, we’ve been able to cut 30% of our roughing time on burns under a half-inch deep."
The biggest benefit is the volume of new work because of he efficiencies of he robotics.
"Everybody’s till working the same, but our sales are going up because we are able to get more jobs through in a quicker period of time. There is a big myth that automation reduces jobs. In our case, automation has allowed us to redistribute our labor resources to complete tasks that require manpower, which in turn, has allowed us to increase our volume of work."