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CGS Machine and Tool (Russellville, Kentucky) manufactures custom after-market wheels for cruiser-style motorcycles. Recently the company purchased a new vertical machining center when faced with the challenge of reducing cycle time, increasing employee output and improving manufacturing efficiency and profitability on the line.
“The main problem was we weren’t getting our wheels on the line fast enough,” says Mark Pape, CGS plant manager. “Upon learning of our turn-around problems, our machine supplier, Advanced Machinery, recommended we also purchase Midaco’s Automatic Pallet Changer System at the same time we purchased our new vertical machine center. He pointed out that by loading parts and setting up the pallet off-line while another pallet of parts is being machined, we would reduce our current down time between loads and deliver parts much quicker.”
With just one recommendation from its machine tool supplier, the company’s problems were solved. CGS installed the pallet system to help improve the production of the custom motorcycle wheels. It has since increased production and revved up profits substantially.
Before the addition of the pallet changer, CGS would incur approximately 12 minutes of downtime each time a finished wheel was removed from the vertical machine and a new wheel was placed in the machine. Inefficiencies added up due to the operator having to wait for the part to be machined, as well as the machine being idle while the operator unloaded and loaded parts.
“When you consider the time it takes to change a part directly on the table and compare that to the time it takes to change a pallet, the arithmetic is simple.” Mr. Pape says. “With the pallet changer, our machinery stops for only about 12 seconds between wheels. We now save about 12 minutes per load. While one part is being manufactured on a pallet, the part in the other pallet is being replaced. The longer run time also allows us to unpack and clean our pre-production wheel parts while another wheel is being produced.”
CGS’s machining center now runs longer, and the machine operators are more productive because they change parts and setup during machining. The pallet changer also helps reduce spindle idle time by allowing one pallet of parts to be machined while setting up another pallet. “We’ve had both machines now for about a year, and we have increased productivity over 30 percent,” Mr. Pape says.
Mr. Pape says CGS has had the opportunity not only to realize the production benefits of its pallet changer system, but also to pay back a substantial part of its investment in the short, productive time it has been using the machine. CGS’s pallet changer is expected to save thousands of dollars a year in production costs by reducing part loading and setup downtime. Another benefit has been Midaco’s customer service. “Their service and complete support has been excellent” Mr. Pape says, adding, “One of their staff set up the system and completely trained my operators. From the start, once we were set up and running, we never had a minute of trouble with it.
“Although we are not a high volume shop, we realize that to increase output and speed up deliveries on both short and high volume work, any further machine tool purchases will include a Midaco pallet changer.”