MAKING TOUGH DECISIONS
Wisley Tool Saves on Consumables
Wilsey Tool Company, Inc. was dedicated to one particular wire EDM machine manufacturer for years. So, what could lead President Timothy Wilsey to switch brands? State-of-the-art machine tool technology that could save money on consumables is the answer.
"We had never tried another wire EDM machine before, and were very leery due to the different controls and operation, and how all of my people were trained," says Wilsey. "I thought making a change would be a real challenge."
"But, the desire for change came about when I took my annual look at maintenance costs on all my machines, including my 35 EDM machines. At the end of the year, my highest maintenance costs have always been associated with the other wire EDM machines. I got tired of it, and decided to change."
"We decided on the Makino SP43 due to low operational costs. We sat it on the floor and were cutting with it within a day after training. Since then, we have never looked back. The machine cuts ten times faster than the bulk of my machines. And, it runs all the time."
"We liked it so well we just turned around and bought another one. Since it was installed, it has been running like crazy. The learning curve was unbelievably short and there are no operator problems. The guys love it!"
Wired into Wire
Wilsey Tool Company, Inc. started in 1966 as a tool building shop. The company got into wire EDM in 1976, and grew from there, developing an expertise in die component work. In the mid-1980s, the company foresaw that wire EDM technology could be used for production parts manufacturing, and moved into this area.
Wilsey Tool primarily runs production parts for the medical, aerospace and mold building industries, while still manufacturing a small amount of tooling. But most of the wire EDM machines, as well as the mills and Ram EDM machines at the facility, manufacture a wide variety of production parts in all shapes and sizes.
Tim Wilsey notes the new Makino machines are making an impact. "They are fast. They really are. I mean, they are very fast! My other wire EDM machines are only three to five years old, but the enhanced cycle times with the Makino machines are pretty amazing."
"The SP43s are simply 30 to 35 percent faster. This has helped us substantially reduce our leadtime. Everybody wants someone else in the manufacturing process to reduce lead times, and with these machines we can."
The improving economy has intensified the demand for this kind of performance. "When the economy was slow, and everybody was begging for work, a lot of shops disappeared," says Wilsey. "Now that the economy is picking up, there are less shops out there. And, no customers have any inventory, so they all want everything right away."
"That’s primarily why I put the second Makino on the floor. The backlog has been tremendous for us for the last year and a half, and we run our machines hard. We abuse them by running them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, the Makino SP43s just consume work."
Maintenance & Operation Matter
The amount of spare parts necessary for routine maintenance impresses Tim Wilsey. "I believe the Makino SP43 has only five or six different line items for routine part replacement. We simply don’t have any real downtime for maintenance, nor a huge need for replacement parts inventory."
"I like the way it gets rid of the wire. And, it doesn’t have any belts. Anyone working with wire machines knows that belts are a pain. I also think that a lot of our success has to do with the simple Makino controls and operation that make it easy to run."
One of the most impressive features to Wilsey is the automatic wire threader. "The other wire EDM machines here also have automatic wire threaders that work. But you have to spend several hours a week maintaining them. The Makino works — period!"
"It doesn’t require any extra special maintenance or cleaning. It just works. I run the Makino recommended filters, even though they are a little pricier than the generic filters. But, they last eight times longer. Therefore, it keeps my maintenance costs and down time to a minimum. Other people might not do that because they are shortsighted. But, in the long run, these filters really pay off."
In machine acquisition decision-making, Tim Wilsey remains very thorough. "I like to look at the overall weight, the casting and the rigidity of the machine, even in selecting a wire EDM. Rigidity doesn’t play a real big part, but it does play a part."
"The SP43 and WireWIZARD control is very user friendly," says Wilsey. "I grew up on the shop floor, and I can look at an operator to see if the guy is either struggling or he is happy. My guys are happy!"
"I walk around in the shop all of the time, and I see the Makino SP43 machines running all of the time. I never see anybody standing there scratching their head, reading the instruction manual or talking on the phone trying to figure out how to get, or keep it running. They just run!"
Trraining and the Future
Tim Wilsey notes that Makino’s technology transfer was very helpful to his company. "We were up and running within hours once the machine was installed by Makino and its distributor, EDM Sales and Supplies. My guys were efficiently trained, and we have never looked back."
Wilsey says it handles the tough jobs with surprising ease. "We cut some cobalt chrominate that was six inches thick, and the SP43 smoked the stuff. It just ate it for lunch."
"It was unbelievable, actually. Overall, the Makino wire EDM with BellyWIZARD is 30 percent faster than anything else on our floor."
This success has opened the door for more possibilities. "We are happy," says Wilsey. "Things look great. I’ve seen a lot of machines come and go through here. I have seen a lot of them leave because they just couldn’t keep up with our needs."
"That is all because we discovered how well the Makino SP43 runs!"