|A Fastems palletizing system feeds work to Kitamura machining centers at Aluminum Precision Products. |
Aluminum Precision Products constantly looks at ways to improve efficiencies and reduce cost through lean manufacturing, total quality management and continuous process improvement. The Santa Ana, Calif, firm never hesitates to invest in improving its plant layout, training and implementing lean measures, as is evident with its recent purchase of two Kitamura HX 500s and one HX 630 horizontal machining centers, as well as a Fastems MLS_MD flexible manufacturing system (Multi-Level System) from machine tool supplier Machinery Sales Co. (Masco).
“Fastems is very flexible: it can integrate different machines into the same palletizing system,” said Garry Frost, president of Masco in the City of Industry, Calif.
That appealed to Aluminum Precision Products which liked the option of using different machine sizes and different machine brands in the same cell if it were necessary.
The shop also was happy with the Fastems advanced software system.
Prior to buying the Kitamura and Fastems flexible manufacturing equipment, Aluminum Precision Products ran one of its products on an older vertical machine. The part was a large landing gear and took 45 min. from roughing to finishing.
“With the Fastems system, we put it (the landing gear) up on the Kitamura 630 and cut the time to around 18 min.,” Bill Minna, machine engineer at Aluminum Precision Products, said.
A part for a jet engine, one that Minna called a “high runner for us,” was being produced at a rate of six parts per hour on one of three horizontal machining centers the shop has had for 10 years. Minna said that part now runs at eight to ten parts per hour, adding that the Fastems quick load/unload feature from machine to load station is part of the improvement that enables the system to maximize spindle uptime.
“We do many parts a month and run quite a bit through this cell,” Minna said.
The cell is 27.2-m (89.2 ft.) long, and has 42 pallets. Most pallets carry aluminum tombstones that the shop manufactures itself.