Shop Solutions: Large Parts Offer Large Challenges
Domestic manufacturers have become adept at changing market focus and improving skills to compete in new markets. What happens, though, when even those markets experience sudden decline?
That was the challenge for McSwain Manufacturing Corp. (Cincinnati, OH) when the gas turbine business it had been growing with in the 1990s declined precipitously as a result of the bursting of the speculative energy-generation bubble and the slowdown that followed 9/1l.
McSwain is the Gas Turbine Components division of Héroux-Devtek (Quebec, ON, Canada). McSwain operates two plants totaling 121,000 ft2 (11,241 m2) and employs 140 people. It manufactures components for power-generation applications, large earth-moving equipment, and aircraft engines. Other products include petroleum industry components, computer-memory storage parts, and aircraft structural and military equipment components.
Although it handles parts as small as 3" (76.2-mm) diam, McSwain specializes in big jobs: components to 144" (3658-mm) diam, 160" (4064-mm) long, and weighing as much as 20 tons.
"We have a reputation for being good at large turning and horizontal boring mill work," explains Al Cook, VP-business development. "We are also recognized as being price competitive, with the ability to react quickly to customer demand."
In 1991 McSwain began manufacturing components for General Electric's gas-turbine manufacturing operation in Greenville, SC, starting with parts for one specific size of turbine and evolving into producing a range of others. "Because of our price and service, we eventually wound up being their main steel supplier," says Cook.
In 1998, the gas-turbine business really took off. From a late-1990s base level of delivering about 50 shipsets a year, orders rose to a peak of about 225 shipsets annually in 2001-02. "It was a lot of growth in a short period of time," says Cook. In fact in early 2003 McSwain was sold out for the year, covered by purchase orders totaling about $35 million.
Cook explains that the deflation of the speculative energy-generation bubble and the lingering effects of 9/11 took a sudden large toll on demand for power-generation components.
By September 2003, McSwain's backlog had declined by $9 million, and by the end of the year sales had dropped another $9 million, translating to a 50% loss of booked sales.
At the same time, business was reduced by half for Héroux-Devtek's ABA Industries aircraft component manufacturing facility in Florida. It was decided to consolidate manufacturing equipment from Florida at the Cincinnati location.
"The key to dealing successfully despite major market changes is finding customers who are growing and then determining the best way to fulfill their needs," says Cook. "In this business, you follow the industries that are hot. Right now, Caterpillar is very busy. FMC in Houston is busy. If they are busy we are going to be there. That's our strategy."
Having the right equipment and manufacturing capability in the shop supported this strategy right where it counted: in the company's large-part manufacturing capacity. During the rapid growth days of the late 1990s gas-turbine boom, McSwain bought 20 machine tools from Phillips Olympia (Concord, ON, Canada), including 12 heavy-duty vertical turning centers and horizontal boring mills for making the largest parts.
The Phillips Olympia machines include both the V-60 model with 60" (1524-mm) diam table and 80" (2032-mm) diam part capacity and the V-80 model with 80" (2032-mm) diam table and 100" (2540-mm) diam capacity. Phillips Olympia builds machines to order, in this case to produce large parts at tight tolerances. All their machines have polymer-type casting construction, probes, and toolchangers.
Toolchangers and part probes are essential for McSwain's short-run, just-in-time large-part machining. "Most of our work is done in fourpiece lots," says Cook. "We'll have duplicates of the same part, but we may run one today, two tomorrow, and three next week depending on the customer demand. Almost all these parts have been through lean manufacturing and six sigma."
The company's machining operations represent a balance between speed and precision. "There are two types of parts," says Cook. "On some parts you can do aggressive cutting, but other components have restrictions as to how aggressive you can be because of potential movement in the material itself.
"We run our finishing machines at 70 or 80% cutting capacity, and when we are performing roughing operations, it would be 90 or 95%. We do not baby the machines. They are fully utilized."
Workpiece materials range from cast and ductile iron and aluminum to tough alloy steels and exotics including titanium, Inconel, and Hastelloy. Even for the largest parts, tolerances are measured in the tenths, surface finishes are as fine as 32 rms, and total runouts of less than 10 µm are required.
A few of the Phillips Olympia vertical lathes feature two rams, enabling two tools to cut simultaneously. Cook says that applying tools on a second ram is going from a two-axis machine to a four-axis machine. The arrangement has helped increase productivity as much as 40% in some cases.
Overall, McSwain's manufacturing capability includes six manufacturing cells with a total of nine highspeed machining centers with pallet systems. Other equipment includes multiaxis VMCs and HMCs, large CNC horizontal lathes capable of turning workpieces to 78" (1981-mm) diam and eight CNC horizontal boring machines with capacities to 122" (3099 mm) and 90" (2286 mm) in X and Y axes.
As global markets continue to change, so does McSwain. A good example is the company's growing business with manufacturers of wind-turbine generators for generating electric power. McSwain machines large gearbox cases and turns internal shafts for this increasingly popular power-generation technology.
Clearing-Cast Iron Milling Bottleneck
Introduced to North America in 1961, the Dura-Bar continuous iron casting process produces an engineered metal with physical and structural advantages over steel, castings, and aluminum. The ability to combine various graphite structures with different matrix structures (ferritic versus pearlitic) creates a material microstructure that is free from shrinkage, gas holes, sand, and other tool-wearing inclusions.
At Dura-Bar, a division of Wells Manufacturing Co. (Woodstock, IL), rough milling continuous cast iron bar stock was slowing the operation and proving to be a bottleneck. At one point, the company was forced to add a third shift for rough milling, and sometimes even had to outsource the operation to meet customer commitments.
The Dura-Bar plant produces about 1500 iron bars per year on a 16/5 operating schedule. Finished bars are distributed through metal service centers for applications including machine bases, manifolds, housings, gears, and pump and compressor parts. Dura-Bar is an alternative to steel, cast iron, and aluminum due to its better machinability and lower part costs.
A typical example is the reduction in part cost of 33% resulting from converting a spindle housing from leaded steel to Dura-Bar 65-45-12 ductile iron.
The improvement in machining began after Todd Christian, industrial engineer, identified the bottleneck being created by milling with a conventional 12" (305-mm) diam neutral-rake milling cutter with inserts oriented radially.
Christian approached Dura-Bar's tooling suppliers looking for possible solutions. Mike Crabtree of Ingersoll Cutting Tools (Rockford, IL) and distributor Brian O'Reilly of Quality Tools and Abrasives Inc. (Bensenville, IL) recommended the S-MAX tangential milling cutter, which is designed specifically for heavy rough milling. Ingersoll had recently expanded its tangential milling product line to include the exact 45° lead-angle model that Dura-Bar needed.
In tangential milling, the inserts lie flat along the pitch line rather than standing up radially, aligning the inserts' strongest axis with the operation's main cutting force and enabling the machining rate to increase without overloading the insert.
The 45° lead angle is important because it eliminates the need to slow the feed when entering and exiting the cut, which is the case when roughing with a 0° lead-angle cutters.
The Dura-Bar workpieces include square and rectangular iron bar stock ranging from 4.5 to 21" (114–533 mm) on a side and 72–102" (1.8–2.6-m) long. Bars may be milled on two, three, or all four sides, depending on customer requirements. The goal is simply to make the bars flat, parallel, and straight within 0.010/6" (0.25/152 mm) of bar length.
Depending on the width of the side to be milled, the operation is done in three to seven passes. "More passes mean more entries and exits of the cut," says Christian, noting that "we don't have to slow down using the 45° lead-angle cutter."
Dura-Bar cleans up the bars on an Ingersoll VMC with a 4 x 21' (1.2 x 6.4-m) bed. Required materials removal ranges from 0.250 to 0.750" (6.35–19.05 mm) per side. "The uneven surfaces of the as-cast material make the roughing especially difficult. It's a matter of high-impact loads on the cutter and insert, not just the abrasiveness of the scale," Christian explains.
Since retooling with the S-MAX cutter, machine operators also commented on how much quieter the operation has been, especially when entering a cut. "The combination of tangential orientation, the 45° lead angle, and positive-rake presentation creates a stronger system structure that also reduces cutting forces," Christian says. "It's that combination that enables the faster feed without overloading the insert or cutter body."
Improvement in roughing of castings and forgings is about more than edge wear. "On the micro level, all milling creates shock and impact loads on the inserts as they alternately enter and leave the cut. The irregular surface of steel or iron castings just makes matters worse. In a tangential cutter, the orientation of the inserts provides much more support and stability behind the cutting edge," Messrs. Crabtree and O'Reilly explain.
Once the company retooled with the Ingersoll S-MAX tangential milling cutters of the same size, throughput improved 60% on average and edge life more than doubled. As a result, Dura-Bar eliminated the third milling shift and brought all the milling work back inside, saving more than $100,000 a year in milling costs.
Fast Hole EDMing
EDM requirements of power generation and aircraft engine customers are demanding in terms of accuracy, tolerances, and hole quality. The competition is tough, but hard work and a flexible EDM machine can make the all-important difference.
At least that's the opinion of Don Rowland, president and owner of Integrity EDM (Tipton, IN). Since he opened his shop in 2002, he says that the company's growth has been remarkable and hectic.
"I started out in about 900 ft2 [83.6 m2] and now we're up to 20,000 ft2 [1858 m2]." Integrity EDM has 18 employees who work two 10-hr shifts, five days a week. He notes that this isn't really the norm. "We usually work a single shift on Saturdays depending on the workload, which is, and has been, on an upward curve since we opened."
Rowland didn't open Integrity EDM in the belief—typical of many other small shops—that there is an opportunity to get a slice of an existing, mature market (auto parts, tool and die and mold work) or that they believe they have developed a niche process that they feel others cannot replicate.
He was the manufacturing manager for Meyer Tool (Cincinnati, OH) for twenty some years, "probably the largest supplier of EDM holes in the world," Rowland says. "I had a lot of experience in making holes with all the various technologies. Then in late 2001, I decided to make a move and opened Integrity EDM."
There was a lot to think about, but one of the things that Rowland didn't have to think about was his target market. Initially it was turbine blades for land-based power-generation plants, and after that aircraft engine components.
"These industries demand an enormous number of precise, accurate, and clean holes. Some are very small and deep. Others are not too tight and are shallow. But the materials are all very tough like Hastelloy, Inconel, and nickel and cobalt-based alloys," he says.
Rowland contacted Beaumont Machine (Milford, OH) and explained his needs to Ed Beaumont and the Beaumont engineering team. What he wanted was a highly versatile machine, one that could handle a large variety of part shapes, sizes, and materials.
"I wanted to be able to put a large number of very small and sometimes very deep holes into some incredibly hard-to-machine materials. I wanted to be able to run parts from 1 to 60" [25.4–1524-mm] diam. Some of these holes range from 0.015 to 0.125" [0.38–3.18-mm] diam. There may be as many as 2000 holes per part, and I've got to hold ±0.0005" [±0.0130-mm] hole size. Cycle times might be as short as under five seconds, hole-to-hole," he says.
The Beaumont solution was its six-axis CNC Fast Hole EDM machine, which features a ±120° swiveling head and a dielectric system and control package for better hole entry/exit functions. The greater flexibility of the swiveling head and machine base allowed Rowland to simplify his tooling, reducing costs.
Rowland has 12 Beaumont Fast Hole systems in his shop with two more on order. "As business demands continue to grow, I'll buy more," he says.
Although Rowland's original target market was gas-turbine blades for power generation, he really wanted to get into holemaking for jet aircraft engines. "We're still very big into land-based operations, as a percentage of our work, and that is what we were originally certified to do. But now more and more of our work is coming out of aircraft engines and that's where we want to grow."
There are differences and similarities in both applications. Rowland explains that everything on the land-based turbine work is going to be bigger and deeper. The part is bigger, the hole diam is larger, and the holes are deeper. On aircraft engine parts, the holes are generally smaller and shallower. "I've had land-based parts with a diam to 55" [1397 mm], which is a very good sized part, and parts that weigh 1100 lb [499 kg]."
On the combustion side of the land-based gas turbine industry, the customers are asking for components with several thousand holes, and these have to be held to a very consistent airflow tolerance. While the industry standard is ±10% on flow, he's easily able to consistently hit 25% of the tolerance on flow with the Beaumont machine.
On the aircraft side, there really is no typical part per se, he says, because one part may get 10 to 50 holes, and another may require several thousand holes. But the precision on airflow percentage in aircraft holes has to be close as well.
"Your average aircraft hole diam is usually more open," Rowland says, "actually within ±0.002" [0.05 mm], which is not really tight. But the hole depth can go anywhere from 0.060" to 1.500" [1.52–38.1-mm] deep. And true position tolerance, which is the location of the hole, keeps getting tighter all the time," he says.
Rowland points out that in the case of both applications, the international community is applying more and more pressure for the engines to burn hotter and more efficiently to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Thus, the requirement for increased airflow in the hot zone and more accurate, clean, and precise holes to facilitate the flow.
"Getting into the aircraft-engine side of the business was a real challenge. You have to meet so many standards and have so many certifications that just the paperwork is daunting. We didn't get aircraft-certified until July 2005, and now we're doing work for GE for land-based power generation and aircraft, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, and Honeywell. What used to be 20 to 30 part numbers is now up to 150 different part numbers, and that's growing every day," Rowland says.
The technologies that are being used to make these holes include waterjet, lasers, electron beam drilling (EBD), and even gundrilling for deep holes.
"You have to keep an eye on what the other guys are doing," Rowland says. "We keep an eye on them all. We've looked at all the traditional cutting methods, plus waterjet, plasma, other EDM approaches, and laser. The latter is probably the strongest contender to EDM, but dimensional roundness, consistency, and hole depth are still problematic for laser. And, of course, the materials we cut simply put the conventional hole drilling methods out of the running all together," he says.
On other aircraft parts, fan blades for example, the Beaumont swiveling head makes a difference in the tooling costs, Rowland says. "The contours and deep holes usually mean expensive fixturing with lots of starts and stops in the machining process. The head, the rotating electrode, and the fast hole-cut time all combine to provide an advantage at far less cost. Plus, the entry/exit strategies at steep angles had always been a problem for fast hole machines, and the power supply/servo setup on the Beaumont machines minimized this condition," he explains.
Though Integrity EDM is competing with waterjet or laser for holes on parts, it continued to win jobs. "I attribute this to the flexibility, repeatability, and reliability of the Beaumont machine and the quick changeover. We can easily change over from job to job in less than 30 min, and we're working on ways to reduce that even further. We're running at 95% uptime on the Beaumonts and always have. We still have the first two machines, and we're still getting that kind of uptime five years later."
Rowland sees another Beaumont machine in his future. It's a seven-axis EDM. "I have to have the right machine and the right person running it," Rowland says. "After all, EDM really is an art, not a science. And in the right hands, a Beaumont machine lets you create art."
Tooling Technology Needs Full-Time Attention
The rapid rate of technological change has made it increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest advances in tooling technology. Merely keeping abreast of the sheer volume of products coming to market can prove a daunting task.
During the spring of 2005, Kerkau Manufacturing (Bay City, MI) joined the ranks of a growing number of manufacturers creating positions dedicated solely to tracking, investigating, and implementing the most advanced tooling technologies. Kerkau hired a full-time tooling engineer, Matt Breakey, to sort out and suggest ways to improve productivity.
"In the past, we would have several of our machinists bear the responsibility of suggesting tooling changes," explains Hal Baldauf, Kerkau president. "Because of the increasing rates of product introductions, coupled with increased sales and the training of new employees, we decided to create a full-time position. We view the addition of a full-time tooling engineer as an investment in productivity."
Kerkau has grown steadily since its founding in 1983. Sales in 2005 reached $17 million, adding to the complexity of the company's operations and challenging it to ensure that all machining processes achieve maximum efficiency. The majority of Kerkau's work consists of manufacturing flanges for the oil and gas, pulp and processing, and chemical industries.
"When I started in early 2005, we identified several key areas for improvement," says Breakey, Kerkau's tooling engineer. "Two top concerns were cutting times in drilling operations and chip control, both in boring and turning. We hadn't performed any real in-depth analysis of the tooling we were currently using, so that's where I began."
In reviewing Kerkau's drilling operations, Breakey came across a relatively new product that seemed to be achieving high performance relative to other drills in the shop. The tool was a 7/8" (22.22-mm) diam CoroDrill 880 from Sandvik Coromant Co. (Fair Lawn, NJ). Extensive tests comparing it with three similar drills revealed that it was indeed providing much higher levels of efficiency. With these data in hand, Kerkau began testing the CoroDrill 880 on other applications.
One specific job involved a weld neck machined out of 316L stainless steel. The component required multiple holes ¾" (19.05-mm) in diam ½" (12.7-mm) deep. Two parts at a time would be loaded into the machine on a pallet. With the previous drill, cycle time was 1 min 35 sec. By switching to the CoroDrill 880, Kerkau was able to increase feeds and speeds to reduce cycle time to 45 sec.
"On that specific job, we went from a situation where the operator spent a lot of time waiting on the machine to a situation where he really had to work to keep up with it," says Breakey. "We produce roughly 2000 of the components a week, so eliminating 50 sec from a process adds up really fast. In a single week, you're looking at saving almost 14 machine hours."
In addition to faster metal removal rates, Kerkau has discovered other benefits in the CoroDrill 880. With drills formerly used, the company found that as the tools wore down they would begin creating longer, stringier chips. With the CoroDrill 880, chip size remains consistent throughout the entire life of the tool. In addition, tool life has been increased with the new product.
"We're now using the CoroDrill 880 in the majority of our drilling applications," says Breakey. "As we've switched over, cycle times have consistently dropped, usually by between 30% and 50%. On top of that, we've seen tool life increase anywhere from 50 to 150%. The drill has increased our productivity and decreased our costs significantly."
Based on its successes, Kerkau turned to Sandvik Coromant for help in other areas. Local Sandvik Coromant representative Bob Hart and Breakey worked together to identify and capitalize on areas displaying a potential for improvement, relying on reports generated from Sandvik Coromant's Productivity Analyzer software to estimate possible time and cost savings.
On one occasion, Sandvik and Kerkau worked together to eliminate problems with chip control. Kerkau frequently works with grades 304L and 316L stainless steel, materials with high elasticity and ductility. In boring applications, operators typically had to stop the machine on every part to clear chips.
"Poor chip control was having a negative effect on our productivity," says Breakey. "We began implementing Sandvik Coromant's chipbreaker inserts and saw an immediate improvement. They have eliminated the need for our machinists to manually clear chip buildup around the part or tool, removing a significant amount of inefficiency from our boring operations."
New inserts have also increased productivity in turning operations. Kerkau was experiencing problems with a component produced out of pearlitic malleable iron for General Motors. The part was run dry, creating a harsh environment with high levels of heat. Insert edges would wear down quickly, creating problems with quality and chip control. To combat these issues, Kerkau implemented Sandvik Coromant's new 4225 grade insert for turning applications.
"With the 4225 insert, we've doubled our tool life and experienced a much higher level of performance from the tool," says Breakey. "That job runs on two machines. The success with that job has us looking at other areas where we might integrate the 4225 grade."
"The effects of having a dedicated tooling engineer can be felt throughout the whole of our operations," says Baldauf. "Over the past year, we have become a more efficient and more productive manufacturer. In today's global market, that level of constant improvement is an absolute imperative." He expects to continue its positive momentum over the coming year. Based on work accomplished so far and orders on-hand, annual sales are forecasted to increase by 30% in 2006.
Control Helps Kuka With DBOOM
Kuka Flexible Production Systems Corp. (Sterling Hts., MI) is a producer of automated/robotic production systems for car bodies and chassis.
When Kuka decided to become a Tier I supplier of automobile bodies to DaimlerChrysler, the company faced the challenge of designing a body shop utilizing DBOOM (Design, Build, Own, Operate, and Maintain) philosophy. There were no restrictions on the equipment to be used other than the criterion to "utilize only field-proven technology."
The resulting partnership with Siemens Energy & Automation Inc.'s Automotive Center of Competence (Troy, MI) did just that at the Kuka Toledo Productions Operation LLC (KTPO) assembly plant. It produces the body-in-white on the Daimler- Chrysler (DCX) Jeep JK vehicles, currently the Wrangler Model.
Siemens' control technology realized substantial cost savings, while significantly improving system safety, manufacturing flexibility, and mean time to repair (MTTR). The body-in-white application involves many systems from underbody to windshield to panel line assembly.
Two main problems plagued the current design. First was that the hardwired safety required for each cell was expensive to install, troubleshoot, and maintain. This hardwiring also made future changes and modifications cost-prohibitive. The other problem was the power distribution to robots and welders.
Traditional machine safety systems in the automotive market are implemented with hard fencing, remote emergency-stop pushbuttons, safety-gate switches, safety mats, light curtains, and large numbers of redundant relays. At the heart of this system is a complicated and extensive system of hard-wired circuits. This design inherently hampers flexibility, impedes communications to the control system, increases the cost of troubleshooting, and significantly increases the cost of a machine.
While hardwired relay logic for control had long since migrated to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), little has been done to implement similar improvements in machine safety systems.
Knowing this was a major source of costs and complexity, Kuka looked to simplify the safety system with a new, cost-effective method for safety management and controls using a fail-safe controller with high diagnostic capability.
While this alone would have been a substantial improvement to the system, Kuka saw moving from hard-wired safety relays to a standalone Safety PLC-based method was not enough. Combining both machine safety and standard machine control on one fieldbus was key to nearly eliminating all relays and out-to-the-field wiring, creating significant reductions in control panel space requirements, hardware requirements, engineering design, troubleshooting, and overall wiring costs.
Kuka chose a Profibus-based processor that communicates to all field components, including safety devices, via an inexpensive two-wire cable capable of speeds up to 12 MBaud. The previous standard solution included communication via a simple fieldbus for control, and hardwired circuits for safety which all acted independently. The architecture in that legacy design required a large five-door main-control panel with auxiliary panels on the robots, roller tables, and assorted field device locations. Power was supplied by expensive multiconductor cable drops.
The Siemens processor acts as both the control processor for normal machine functions and safety processor to monitor and control all safety devices. Working from one common programming environment, and utilizing ladder logic for both process control and safety, have substantially reduced the engineering efforts and increased flexibility.
With the new Siemens solution, Kuka has implemented point-level diagnostics for all critical I/O (both standard and safety I/O) and bus-level faults. These events are automatically generated and displayed on the single machine HMI, significantly reducing troubleshooting time and expense.
By adding an inexpensive device called a diagnostic repeater, all information on the fieldbus is reported on the HMI including pinpointing any breaks in the communication cable within a foot of the break. By combining safety and standard I/O along with a common programming method, Kuka engineers reported an impressive 85% reduction in relays, local I/O, terminal blocks, and cable connections. The entire design was reduced to six standard panel configurations that could handle all varieties of system design requirements.
The base design criterion was to design and build only what was needed on the smallest of systems to reduce capital costs. As the system expands for other body types, or requires the addition of other equipment, including robots, expansion to the design is straightforward. Furthermore, Kuka engineers reported that the modular design/build accounted for a substantial savings on engineering hours.
The second major obstacle for cost reduction was the extensive power wiring to the field for robots, welders, and general control. The traditional method used fused-branch circuits with motor starters, circuit breakers for robots, and tip dressers. Proper fuse sizing was required, as was the testing of each circuit prior to power-up. This resulted in significant time required for startup and commissioning.
In addition, a common issue in the plant is power-load balancing by having various types of voltages tied to the grid. All of this was housed in multidoor main-power enclosures that occupied a significant amount of real estate.
Siemens introduced Kuka to Fast-Bus, a three-phase bus-bar system for power distribution. The modular design provides the flexibility needed to fit any application. Circuit breakers and starters, which are typically prewired at the factory, are snapped on or removed from the bus bar in seconds.
Overall, the FastBus system helps save panel space by allowing one to wire and mount circuit protection and motor starters in a tight line, and therefore reduce installation costs with faster mounting and significantly fewer power connections.
The Kuka design was based on bringing in 480 Vac into the machine and distributing the power out to the 24 Vdc devices via power distribution panels that were also free of fuses. Balancing plant power loading became significantly easier, since all incoming voltage to the devices was now 480 Vac threephase, and included no single-phase devices and transformers.
Kuka was able to see substantial reductions in components, labor and space, while increasing the flexibility of the system. With an adjustable main circuit breaker, the main panel was capable of handling any combination of up to eight safe (Category 4) motor power networks, and/or fourteen 25 amp robot power drops with one design.
Schedules would typically dictate two–three days of commissioning/debug time per system. With the Siemens FastBus system, that time was reduced to less than one hour. Future expansion costs should be reduced, as the system is scalable without re-engineering.
All of this is accomplished without air-conditioning. The traditional system required a five-door main enclosure which was now reduced to two doors with shorter overall height. Kuka reports the overall footprint of the cell was reduced over 20% utilizing this design philosophy.
For Kuka USA, prior experience with Siemens software and solutions was virtually nonexistent. Kuka engineering and floor personnel learned and implemented the Siemens system quickly. Ease-of-use and Siemens "train the trainer" approach enabled Kuka to reduce implementation risks and meet tight deadlines.
This article was first published in the October 2006 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.