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Factory-within-factory idea delivers productivity gains

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

Wyoming Completion had a shock when it began machining parts in an automated machining cell.

It was a good shock: While the company hoped for a 25-35% boost in production, it experienced 400% improvement.

The firm bought an automated cell with one Okuma GENOS L300 lathe, a bar feeder and a Fanuc robotic arm equipped with iRVision. President Scott Hecht worked with solutions provider Hartwig Inc. and its partner Gosiger Automation on the project.

In Wyoming Completion’s cell, the robot picks up a rough part from a wooden pallet, loads it into the lathe, removes the machined part, and places it on an outbound pallet. For larger part runs, an operator stacks parts on the pallet using plywood sheets to separate any layers. The robot uses a vacuum-equipped end effector to pick up and move the plywood as each layer is completed. Using these hardwood pallets is a simple, cost-effective way to queue up a large number of parts in an automated cell to provide hours of uninterrupted production. As a result, Wyoming Completion runs some of its parts lights out.

Because the system uses Fanuc’s vision system, it requires limited setup from part to part. Typically, all that’s required is to call up the new program and change the part gripper fingers: a five-minute operation.

To increase the cell’s flexibility even more, the robot’s equipped with a Schunk end-of-arm tool system that automatically selects the correct end effector for the chosen program. In addition to the plywood-handling, vacuum-equipped end effector, there’s an end effector for small parts and another for large parts.

Hecht had considered adding a sub-spindle to his Okuma lathe until Hartwig suggested spending a little more money to add another lathe.
Hecht decided to add two Okuma LB4000s to the cell.

Now instead of buying a large machine with a sub-spindle, he can get more productivity out of the two machines combined with his L300.

Today, Hecht can’t say enough good things about his Okuma equipment and the Hartwig team, even though the cell was his first big step into automation, a move he was “scared to death” of making.

This tale appears in the feature reporter Ilene Wolff wrote about automated cells for this issue. Don’t miss it.

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