Cast Technologies is a family-owned-and-operated foundry and machine shop that got its start 120 years ago making brass plumbing products. Today, the Peoria, Ill., company primarily machines aluminum and brass diesel engine, transmission and earth-moving components such as air-intake elbows, turbos, bearing carriers, oil pans and housings for a wide variety of industries, including construction and agricultural equipment.
With growing global competition and a limited pool of skilled machine operators, Cast Technologies required new technology solutions to overcome these challenges and gain a more competitive stance in the market. The ideal manufacturing solution would enable the company to meet these five objectives:
• Minimize manual labor requirements
• Run multiple jobs concurrently
• Shorten cycle times and reduce lead-times
• Improve part quality
• Provide more competitive part costs
The company incorporated mixed part-type automation into its machining process by installing a Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) pallet handling system with three a61 horizontal machining centers.
Key features of the Makino Machining Complex are noted below:
• A 40-capacity pallet stocker to afford flexibility in unattended high-mix part production
• The MAS-A5 cell controller for in-cell production scheduling, equipment status monitoring, NC program management, tool data management and reporting capability
• Modular expansion capabilities to accommodate future growth
• Dual rail support vehicle for fast and reliable pallet transfers
The Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) does the work of six stand-alone HMCs, enabling Cast Technologies to reduce labor by 33 percent and redeploy four of its operators into more value-added positions in other areas of the shop floor.
The elimination of setup times and efficiencies gained from reduced part load/unload and tool changeover times have given Cast Technologies a 25 to 30 percent improvement in spindle utilization rates. Improved tool capacity and scheduling capabilities enable the company to run smaller batch sizes with over 100 different parts types through the cell.
The Makino Machining Complex has also reduced work in progress (WIP) and scrap and has led to the company accomplishing just-in-time (JIT) part delivery, letting Cast Technologies respond more rapidly to customers’ changing needs at any time of day.