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Line transfer keeps work on-shore

Jan. 1, 2005
Flinchbaugh transfers manufacturing lines from large companies to its small plant and assumes all line part-manufacturing and management responsibilities.

Flinchbaugh transfers manufacturing lines from large companies to its small plant and assumes all line part-manufacturing and management responsibilities.

Once a line is in Flinchbaugh's facility, the company revitalizes it for increased production.

Instead of shipping some of its manufacturing off-shore, equipment builder Caterpillar, Peoria, Ill., transferred an entire production line, along with management and operational responsibilities, to Flinchbaugh Engineering Inc.'s facility. Flinchbaugh, which specializes in such line transfers, revitalized the equipment that Caterpillar would have otherwise trashed into a more-productive line.

The line-transfer concept goes beyond the standard subcontractor relationship to a partnering level, according to Flinchbaugh. For customers like Caterpillar, transferring individual or multiple-part machining lowers part prices, eliminates high labor costs, improves machine uptime, extends equipment life, and reduces capital costs.

Michael Lehman, president of Flinchbaugh, notes that many companies have crippling legacy costs in their labor situations. By transferring componentmanufacturing production lines, those companies rid themselves of this problem and keep jobs in the U.S.

"Contrary to some initial fears people have," he explains, "line transfers are good for jobs because most often workers are retrained in those plants. At the same time, we're able to add jobs at our plant and keep both sets of jobs in the States."

Line transfers that work best are those for manufacturing components that are then assembled into OEM equipment or final products. Transfers typically involve lathes, HMCs, CMMs, wash systems, and more. During moves, Flinchbaugh runs customer production requirements on its own equipment, so as not to interrupt part supplies or cause downtime.

To date, Flinchbaugh has engineered and implemented nine line movements from major OEM shop floors to its own facility. The company boasts an ISO-9000-2002-registered quality system, low PPMs, and a comprehensive ERP system to make line transitions seamless operations.

Flinchbaugh Engineering Inc.
York, Pa.

One cutting system turns big bolts

For largediameter cable-tightening bolts used on hydroelectric dams, Kaltech reduces production time 70% by doing both roughing and finishing with a Kennametal A4 Groove and Turn system.

An A4 cutter completes the entire threading operation and finish-cuts the thread roots on large cable-tightening bolts at Kaltech.

Kaltech Manufacturing, Delta, B.C, specializes in machining white iron, and one of its primary customers makes massive steel components for anchoring large cables on hydroelectric dams to prevent earthquake damage. For machining large-diameter threads on bolts needed to assemble these components, Kaltech reduces finish-cut time by first roughing out the bulk of material with a Kennametal A4 Groove and Turn system for turning, facing, profiling, O.D. and I.D. grooving, boring, and cutoff applications.

The A4 saves Kaltech roughly 25% in cost for machining 50 cabletightening bolts, 20%/part in labor costs, and $300/part in insert costs. In addition, the tool handles the shop's thread feed of 50 ipm, or 88 rpm, and lets its machinists thread eight pieces/tool edge to reduce production time 70%.

Trapezoidal threads on the steel bolts measure 18.110 0.551 in., and the A4 roughs the entire piece, then flawlessly finishes its bottom or root. Because the bolts are machined from large amounts of material, there is often a lot of overhang, which usually causes chatter. But according to Hans Kaltenegger, operations manager at Kaltech, the A4 minimizes chatter and leaves a smooth finish.

"There has been no failure with the A4 because of its rigidity," notes Ron Christiaens, Kennametal metalcutting-systems engineer. "And shops like Kaltech need a tool with a lot of rigidity and strong cutting edges when machining heavy-duty threads."

For high productivity on machines with limited tool positions, the A4 eliminates machinists stopping production to change inserts. Because the cutter is doubleended, it provides four cutting edges to divide workloads using one tool.

With immediate customer demands, Kaltech can't afford to stock specialized tools and does not have time to wait for them to be ordered and delivered. The A4 speeds cycle times and eliminates turret indexes. It handles most of the shop's grooving applications, so there's no need for extra tools for specific operations, which lowers inventory and costs.

"We run two shifts, so the A4 is often out on the shop floor," says Kaltenegger. "It moves around quite a bit, and if there's an appropriate application, the guys use it."

Kennametal Inc.
Latrobe, Pa.

Shop sees QC improvement with video measuring

The Galileo QC-5000 automated vision system reduces UltraSource's total gage-R&R error from 0.000343 to less than 0.000050 in. and collects statistical data from all devices inspected on it.

UltraSource combines a modifiedglassplate pallet system with its Galileo QC-5000 to dimensionally inspect product in 50% less time, while collecting 100% of the data on features measured.

After experiencing a significant increase in parts production, UltraSource Inc., Hollis, N.H., needed to expand its QC program and gage finer tolerances with fast and reliable inspection equipment. An automated video-measuring system met the company's production needs for its components made with precision sputtering, photolithography, and dicing technologies.

Prior to selecting a Galileo QC-5000 automated vision system from the L.S. Starrett Co., UltraSource developed five primary requirements — a system must increase final-inspection throughput and reduce overall inspection time, improve present gage repeatability and reproducibility (gage-R&R) errors, collect data automatically, provide simplicity of use, and deliver flexibility.

The Galileo reduces the shop's total gage-R&R error from 0.000343 to less than 0.000050 in. It also collects statistical data from all devices inspected on it. CpK studies that took hours to manually collect and analyze are now done in minutes, and measured data downloads instantly to Excel spreadsheets for identifying process improvements.

In regards to ease-of-use, Daniel Tessier, qualityassurance manager at UltraSource, says "Galileo's software is easy to understand. Within days, our lead mechanical inspector and myself were writing and designing complex programs for our highest-volume jobs. And the software's flexibility lets us program lower-volume, semi-repeat jobs in a few hours."

To further increase inspection productivity for two of its high-volume customers, UltraSource uses a modified-glass-plate pallet system along with the Galileo. The combination lets operators 100% dimensionally inspect product in half the time, collecting 100% of the data on features measured by the machine. Additionally, in-process inspections on the shop's morecomplex devices that took 3 to 4 hr are done in less than 90 min.

For simple, manual, singlefeature operation to complex, automated part measurements, Galileo combines high-resolution imaging with a sturdy, precision mechanical platform.

L. S. Starrett Co.
Athol, Mass.

Pushing tools turns into savings

Slabe Machining Products pushes Ingersoll's TaeguTec tooling to its limits when turning high-temperature alloys.

TaeguTec tooling delivers long edge lives and fast operations to save Slabe Machining Products $70,000/yr in turning costs.

Pushing durable tools to their limits may be routine in turning standard metals, but at Slabe Machining Products in Willoughby, Ohio, the practice works for improving efficiency when cutting high-temperature alloys such as Inconels, Waspalloys, and others. Gains in cutting tool edge-life and faster operations save the company $70,000/yr in turning costs alone. Jeff Hogya, former Slabe tool engineer and now Ingersoll Cutting Tools employee, contends "when turning toughto-machine metal, shops shouldn't be so dazzled by longer edge life that they forget to push material-removal rates. Machining profit comes more from saving time than preserving edges." This is why during an assignment at Slabe to improve turning efficiency on high temperature alloys, he chose five of the shop's highestvolume jobs to test several available cutters before selecting Ingersoll's TaeguTec tooling.

The first test involved a 1.560-in.-long cut turned at 175 sfm and 0.008 ipr in a Waspalloy stator part. Edge life increased from two pieces to 12, and raising the cutting rate to 185 sfm and 0.009 ipr only dropped edge life to 10 pieces. This still produced a total five-fold gain in edge life and a 12% increase in throughput.

On the second test piece, an Inconel 718 antirotation lug with a 2.180-in.-long cut, turning at 165 sfm and 0.007 ipr boosted edge life from seven to 27 parts. Cranking up to 175 sfm/0.008 ipr generated a 13% increase in throughput with an edge life of 25 parts.

For another Waspalloy part with a 1.560-in.-long cut, roughing at 155 sfm and 0.0065 ipr with the Ingersoll cutter increased edge life from 15 to 24 pieces, and finishing at 165 sfm/0.003 ipr upped life from 15 to 50. Slabe couldn't raise the cutting rate any higher for this part because it was a two-spindle operation and the other spindle governed cycle time.

The fourth test part, an Inconel 718 turbine component with a 3.280-in.-long cut, experienced increased edge life from six to 10 pieces during roughing and 10 to 40 for finishing. Finishing, originally run at 165 sfm and 0.002 ipr, rose to 180 sfm/0.003 ipr at a 0.008-in. depth-of-cut for a 60% gain in throughput — stemming from shorter cycles and fewer stops to index. The fifth test job ran on a Citizen M 32 Swiss-type machine and involved an Inconel 718 pin with a 0.625-in.-long cut. Edge life jumped from 10 to 45 pieces/edge, significant because the machine took five min to index.

Ingersoll Cutting Tools
Rockford, Ill.