Rome Ltd., a Sheldon, Iowa, meat grinder machine manufacturer, scrapped its manual engine lathes and decided to turn large feedscrews and other components that power its equipment on more robust CNC lathes. As a result, the company has saved money and improved production 4:1.
Rome doesn’t build the average household meat grinder. The company’s commercial units are heavy-duty and powered by motors up to 200 hp for processing as much as 150,000 lb of meat per hour. Rome also makes mixer grinders, bone collection systems and vane pumps and offers rebuilt equipment of its own brand as well as others, in addition to replacement parts.
For feedscrews that can range in length from 24 in. to 70 in. with external diameters from 6 in. to 20 in. made from mild and stainless steel versions, Rome now turns O.D.s and I.D.s, threads and establishes overall lengths using two Romi Machine Tools Ltd. lathes – an M27 and M33.
The robust Romi machines weigh in at 14,000 lb for the M27 and 33,000 lb for the M33. Both lathes have 80-in. bed lengths, and Rome splits its turning work between the two machines. The M27 handles the noninterrupted turning on new feedscrews, while the M33 machines larger feedscrews and tackles heavy interrupted cutting on reworked feedscrews.
Craig Jongerius, operations manager at Rome, said the company bought the Romi lathes for one reason – brute strength.
“We grew tired of rebuilding our engine lathes every two years. Completely tearing them down, regrinding ways, and refitting everything just became too expensive. We needed lathes that could stand up to our type of machining. The weight and size of the Romi lathes make easy work of the heavy interrupted cutting on our feedscrews. And feedscrew machining time has dropped from 4 hours to 1 hour,” Jongerius said.
He estimates the shop spent between $8,000.00 and $10,000.00 per year on maintaining the old manual lathes. That savings, along with the four-fold increase in production, made upgrading to the Romi lathes an easy decision.
When customer feedscrews come back to Rome for refurbishment, the flights are welded where pieces have broken off during use. These welds are what creates the heavy interrupted cutting conditions and what put such a severe strain on Rome’s former engine lathes.
Besides feedscrews, Rome turns another major grinder component on the Romi lathes.
Head extensions help to force meat through the orifice plate and rotating knives. The parts start out as cast steel, and the shop turns the O.D.s and overall part lengths using the M27. The process used to take 4 to 5 hours per par, but the M27 does it in just under an hour, which saves Rome over $60,000 annually.
For the next head-extension machining step, the M33, with a deep hole boring option, bores the parts in a little over an hour for a savings of about $200.00 per part. The process took between 4 and 5 hours on the manual machines.
Cost savings, as well as the ability to machine many different types of parts, have been the primary benefits of the Romi lathes for Rome. The ability to train anyone to operate the CNC lathes was also a huge factor.
Romi makes it easy for customers to convert from manual engine lathes to CNC. Software developed by the company and GE Fanuc give customers, such as Rome, powerful conversational programming capabilities that make the transition easy.
Romi M-Series lathes can be operated in five different ways: Manually using the X-axis and Z-axis hand wheels and digital readout; manually using the Manual Guidance hand wheel to move both axes simultaneously, in a teach mode, from programs created from Manual Guidance and a conversational programming system; and through G code programming done off line or at the machine.