Free loaders let shop do more with less

Aug. 5, 2005
Operators easily handle running two grinders each at Rocket Supply.

ECO loaders, which come standard on Walter Grinders' Helitronic Power machines, let one Rocket Supply operator run up to four cutting-tool grinders.

Operators easily handle running two grinders each at Rocket Supply. But when the Cincinnati shop added more grinders to keep pace with its increasing cutting-tool manufacturing and regrinding operations, these same operators fell behind.

The shop's tool-grinding cycle times run fast, some as quick as 5 min, so at least one or two machines end up sitting idle while operators tend to others. To eliminate this dead time and avoid having to hire more operators to run the additional machines, Rocket Supply relies on ECO loaders from Walter Grinders.

The loaders, which come standard on Helitronic Power grinders, boost the shop's productivity/capacity over 30% and save it the cost of having to purchase big loading systems separately. In addition, machines now run nonstop during Rocket Supply's two 12-hr shifts, and even unmanned for the four hours between the two shifts.

With 20-tool capacities, the loaders keep grinders running over lunch and break times and between shift changes, which amounts to about 800 tools/month that a shop wouldn't have otherwise ground. According to Walter Grinders, that's enough tools to more than cover a machine's monthly payment, in part because the simple loaders add little to machine cost.

Despite its simplicity, the ECO loader handles tools up to 81/4-in. long and 1 in. in diameter. It accommodates different tool types in any order (wheel sets permitting), and for manufacturing, shops can use bushings in pallets for various diameters. Since work head collets are not exchanged, only one shank diameter is possible within a batch.

When regrinding, collets handle different diameters within a batch. Users can also set up a second pallet outside the machine and change out 20 tools in seconds.

Rocket Supply's operators manually loaded parts one-at-a-time. Now, they load the loaders, and grinders run for up to 51/2 hr unmanned, which gives them plenty of time to concentrate on grinding the shop's specialty tools on another grinder.