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Shop Solves Availability Problem with RoboDrill from Methods

By Methods Machine Tools and TL Technologies Press Release

TL Technologies Inc., based in Lancaster PA, opened nine years ago with a vision of becoming a lights out producer of precision machine products. Working out of a 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility, they specialize in mid- to high-volume production runs for complex parts with challenging dimensional tolerances. Over the past two years they have sharpened their focus on the defense and firearm industries, launching a line of self-branded Thompson Leh bolt actions and aftermarket GLOCK compatible slides that now makes up 50% of their business.

A small shop running a high variety of parts in low lots sizes, one of their biggest challenges was having a poor Availability in their OEE, overall equipment efficiency. “Our OEE was struggling due to our Availability number hovering around 45%,” said Chris Leh, President of TL Technologies, Inc. “Our quality and efficiency numbers were excellent, but we were losing money on the extended downtimes due to not having the staff to handle the planned and unplanned stops.” Chris went on to explain that a shop excelling in OEE would have an availability score of 97%.

During a visit to their shop, Steve Norcio, owner and president at MTA Company Inc., noticed the “red light” issue that TL Technologies was experiencing in their production schedule. TL Technologies’ VP of Manufacturing and Engineering, Jon Thompson, has been working with MTA for years, first purchasing a Nakamura-Tome WY-100 to increase production, accuracy and help them lower the cost per part for their customers. Steve and Jon spent time reviewing TL Technologies current operations and discussing various solutions available to address this downtime.

The answer was the RoboDrill Plus-K60 Automation Solution through Methods Machine Tools Inc. This pre-engineered automation solution uses a robot to automatically load pallets and additional tools in and out of the Fanuc RoboDrill. With 60 pallets and 65 tools now at their disposal, TL Technologies now had a system capable of performing the unattended runtimes that they needed.

Chris Leh, president (left), and Jon Thompson, vice president of manufacturing and engineering for TL Technologies with the company’s FANUC RoboDrill D21MiBadv Plus-K60.

The Plus-K60 is a pre-engineered automation solution for the FANUC RoboDrill D21MiB5ADV. It utilizes a Fanuc LR Mate 200iD robot to load/unload 60 pallets stored on a carousel as well as access to 44 additional tools, increasing the number of tools in the RoboDrill to 65. The system features an easy to operate control pallet scheduling system, as well as the extra tools and pallets. The Plus-K also has configurations allowing for over 100 tools.

The RoboDrill Plus-K60 purchased by TL Technologies was configured with a 5 axis direct drive table allowing them to complete a part in one operation further eliminating human interference and keeping the lights green. “Three weeks after install, the Plus K ran for 97 straight hours,” said Chris. “It would have kept going too if we didn’t stop it to inspect the machine.” Six weeks after installation and training the Plus K-60 has completely eliminated the OEE availability concerns of TL Technologies.

The direct increase in productivity came not only by removing downtime during the week, but with the additional tools and  pallets available, they are able to run long into and through the weekend further utilizing their machine. “Compared with just doing the numbers, seeing the results is just incredible,” said Chris. These immediate results lead TL Technologies to invest in a second RoboDrill Plus K-60 just six weeks after installing the first.

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