Precision Resource California Division (PR-CA) believes that investments in new technology can strengthen a company’s market presence.
Located in Huntington Beach, California, the branch of one of the world’s largest fine blanking manufacturers recognised the need to increase its capacity and step up production efforts because of the extremely competitive landscape.
Traditionally using vertical machining centers (VMCs) for its secondary finishing operations, PR-CA wanted to take a new approach. They began researching the metalcutting market to find a machine that could handle existing jobs and also one that would allow them to expand their capabilities.
Instead of acquiring another vertical, PR-CA approached HMC builders with a sample program to determine which horizontal machining center (HMC) could meet specified criteria.
This included reduced cycle times, fast cutting rates, high capacity and repeatable quality with very little dimensional variation from the first part through the millionth part.
While the company cooperated in tests with several different machine suppliers, Eric Fisher, manufacturing engineer at PR-CA, reports they ultimately selected the Makino a51 horizontal machining center.
Makino introduced the a51 in late 2001 as the first of its 1-Series HMC line, a family of economically priced machines for high-production applications. The a51 has a 15.7-inch (400-mm) pallet and utilizes a high-performance spindle that can accelerate to 12,000 rpm in 1.1 seconds. PR-CA put their Makino a51 HMC into operation in early 2002. Since they began using it, the company has significantly increased production capabilities and has saved thousands of dollars of production costs, according to Fisher. At the same time cycle times, preventative maintenance costs and machine downtime have been reduced.
The a51 has decreased PR-CA’s operational cycle time by approximately 12% in producing an automotive component. Production cycles on 20 parts produced with seven tools have gone from 7 minutes and 47 seconds on their newer, high-performance VMCs to 6 minutes and 50 seconds on the Makino a51.
“Buying a horizontal machining center gave us more flexibility than ever before,” Fisher says. “And because of our new investment in the a51, we are definitely reducing overall manufacturing costs. The a51 saves us at least $1,000 a week. The timesavings and extra production justifies the increase of going vertical to a horizontal. We’ve seen savings on cycle time and increased production.”