7 Ways Any Size CNC Shop Can Make More Money With Automation
Contrary to what some may think, automation is not just for high-volume production. In fact, many smaller CNC shops find that automating their manufacturing process not only reduces labor and material costs, but also provides the versatility and flexibility to take on more complex, higher-paying jobs. It can also make them more cost-competitive and open the door to such lucrative markets as aerospace and medical.
A popular misconception is that automation refers only to robotics and complete factory makeovers. While these are appropriate in some cases, most CNC shops can benefit from simply refining their manual processes by turning their existing turning machines into automated work stations.
Shops can take automation to the next level with multi-purpose CNC machine tools that turn, mill and perform many secondary operations. Some even incorporate laser cutting and additive (3D printing) manufacturing capabilities.
These machines enable CNC shops to produce complete parts with one machine tool instead of moving the part from machine-to-machine. The results of this one-and-done approach include greatly reduced cost-per-part, few or no expensive custom fixtures, fewer tool sets and improved surface and overall part quality.
As sophisticated and versatile as these CNC machines are, they can only achieve maximum performance if they are properly fitted with the right peripherals including:
- Bar feeders capable of automatically and consistently loading bar stock while providing bar support that reduces vibration in the cutting zone. This allows optimum spindle speeds for faster operations, improves both accuracy and product quality and significantly reduces labor costs.
- Chip conveyors that efficiently keep the cutting area clear of all sizes and types of chips to eliminate re-cutting metal that reduces tool life and impacts surface finish and dimensional accuracy. Filtering chip conveyors also reduce coolant costs and prevent debris from damaging pumps.
- Integrated high pressure coolant systems that provide the precise coolant flow necessary for cutting a wide variety of materials.
- The eConnect Ethernet communications system enables the CNC machining center to communicate with bar feeders and other peripherals to reduce material waste and improve throughput.
- Custom steady rest-based automatic work support systems that provide the additional support necessary to machine very long workpieces or perform secondary operations on the end of a workpiece without engaging a tailstock.
- Vacuum unloaders that eliminate the need for the machine operator to constantly monitor these functions.
- Air filtration systems that remove oil/coolant mist, smoke and other fine aerosols and particulates from CNC machines to provide a healthier, safer and more productive workplace.
LNS designs, builds and supports the industry’s broadest assortment of these CNC machine tool peripherals, world-wide. To learn more about automating your machining processes to increase productivity and profits, contact your local LNS representative or call 513-528-5674.