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Mark Albert

Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Posted by: Mark Albert 2. May 2014

Surprises from Machine Monitoring

Ben Schawe, VP of manufacturing at Mazak, checks one of the 60-inch flat-screen displays that show vital statistics about the machines being monitored.
 

When Mazak implemented an MTConnect-enabled machine monitoring system at its machine-tool factory in Florence, Kentucky, the data yielded some surprising results when analyzed.

For example, a number of part programs included optional stops originally added so that operators could check tool wear periodically or measure a critical part feature during the prove-out of the process. When the part went into production, however, these optional stops were never removed from the part program, or operators simply got in the habit of restarting the machine at these points in the program. The high occurrence of stoppages linked to these programmed stops showed up in the reports and they could be traced to the cause. Systematically editing the part programs to remove these unnecessary optional stops was an easy way to recover the lost production time.

A similar pattern was detected in stoppages for tool changes. Some operators were stopping the machine every time the access to the tool magazine was opened to replace or check a cutting tool. Instead of using the feed-hold button, which stops the machine, they should have been using the magazine manual interrupt switch, which enables the machine to continue running safely while they perform tool maintenance. Training that addressed this issue took care of the problem.

Analyzing stoppages also revealed more subtle situations. For example, an unusual number of machine stops were reported with a certain run of part castings. Checking with the operators revealed that castings of the same part sourced from two different foundries were not identical. Dissimilarities in the foundry patterns created excess stock conditions that required the operator to interrupt the part program to manually add a second tool pass on the affected castings.

In other cases, the operators could point to data as evidence that a persistent shortage of a certain cutter type was holding back productivity. Because adequate spare tools were not available, the machine had to be stopped to index inserts on the spot instead. Acquiring additional tool cutter bodies help resolve these delays. In fact, a more general pattern of not having sufficient replacement tools ready to restock tool magazines in a timely fashion was also detected. An initiative to correct this situation is now underway.

Posted by: Mark Albert 25. April 2014

Job Shop in Sweden Installs Haas’s 150,000th Machine

The 150,000th Haas CNC machine, a DS-30SSY, is handed over to its new owners,
Claesson Engineering. 

 

Haas Automation announced that it produced and installed its 150,000th machine tool earlier this year. The machine marking this milestone, a DS-30SSY turning center, was purchased by Claesson Engineering in Lindbovägen, Sweden, and placed in service this March.

Commenting on this special occasion, Alain Reynvoet, managing director of Haas Automation Europe, noted that the machine was bought by a European company–in the relatively high-cost region of Scandinavia. He cited this as evidence that machines from this builder represent a “combination of value, performance, reliability and support” that is right for any market.

The DS-30SSY is a dual-spindle turning center equipped with a Y axis, a C axis and live tooling, designed to create a “done-in-one” machining solution. The opposed spindles support synchronized turning and enable on-the-fly part pass-off to reduce cycle times. The machine provides 4 inches of Y-axis travel (±2 inches from the centerline) for off-center milling, drilling and tapping. It is equipped with high-torque live tooling and a servo-driven C axis for four-axis capability.

Seven years ago, Haas Automation noted the installation of its 75,000th CNC machine—a VF-3SS purchased by a family-owned machining business in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 18. April 2014

Video: Keeping 3 + 2 Machining in the Clear

The 2014 R2 release of PowerMill CAM software from Delcam includes new utilities that enable the programmer to more quickly find the most advantageous workplane orientation, cutting tool tilt angle, and tool length. This speeds the process of optimizing the 3 + 2 program, and makes checking for collisions faster and more thorough. One of these utilities, Dynamic Machine Control, enables the programmer to simulate the motion of the tooltip dynamically and instantly evaluate the effects of program edits to avoid collisions in the tool path. The video above gives a step-by-step demo of the utility in action. 

When a toolpath simulation stops where it detects a potential collision, the  Dynamic Machine Control toolbar enables the user to adjust any axis position in an existing tool path in order to avoid the collision. The programmer can test and evaluate these adjustments instantly by dynamically moving the repositioned tooltip around that tool path while it remains in constant contact with each toolpath segment. If this movement of the tooltip detects further collision points, the programmer can click on graphical “grab handles” that enable the tool to be tilted and rotated manually into a new position that avoids the problem area. For each repositioning, the software can create a workplane that is aligned to the adjusted cutting tool axis and machine tool orientation.

When finished making whatever adjustments in the tilt and rotation of the cutting tool are necessary to avoid all potential collisions, the programmer simply updates the tool path and runs the simulation as an additional check.

Posted by: Mark Albert 11. April 2014

Clemson U. Grad Student Wins MTConnect Challenge

Valerie Pezzullo explains her prize-winning application to MMS Editor-in-Chief Mark Albert at this week’s [MC2] Conference in Orlando Florida.

Winning $100,000 in a national engineering contest is a remarkable feat, especially for a 24-year-old graduate student like Valerie Pezzullo, who is completing her master’s in mechanical engineering at Clemson University. Her application, Machining Process Monitoring to Aid in Chatter Identification, was voted the top entry in the MTConnect Challenge 2 contest this week at the [MC2] 2014 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Attendees at the conference voted on the five finalists to choose the top three winners. In addition to the $100,000 first prize, a $75,000 second prize and a 50,000 third prize were also awarded. All of the finalists demonstrated the value of the MTConnect standard as a key enabler of creative, yet practical, applications that promised to have far-reaching benefits for manufacturers in the United States.

After the results were announced and the cash prizes awarded, I had a chance to find out a little more about Valerie’s interest in engineering, and discovered what I think is important clue in her background that might account for her unique ability to develop a winning entry. She told me that before she settled on engineering as her college program, she was drawn to creative pursuits such as music and theater. Her natural interest in and talent for math and the sciences, however, proved a stronger attraction.

Valerie explained that one of her first engineering courses included an introduction to CNC machining. That really got her hooked on the engineering aspects of manufacturing. Noting her earlier artistic interests, I ask Valerie if she found an outlet for that inclination in engineering. She agreed that there were many opportunities to be creative and inventive in her chosen path. Conceiving, designing and constructing the test equipment and related experiments proved this many times, she said.

It would be great if she can carry that message to other young women and men who might be considering careers and engineering, science or manufacturing. She can show them that these are fields in which the creative spark can certainly catch fire.

For more details about the MTConnect Challenge 2 and information about the finalists, click here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 3. April 2014

It’s Big! It’s Exciting! It Sends a Message

The IMTS balloon made a recent appearance during The MFG Meeting
at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

 

These assertions apply equally well to the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and the IMTS hot air balloon, which serves to promote this important industry event and this important message: Manufacturing is clearly on the rise in the Americas.

IMTS show management has announced that the IMTS balloon will appear at festivals across the country leading up to its appearance at IMTS, which takes place Sept. 8 to 13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“The IMTS balloon is an important visual object that supports our brand, big enough to be seen from a distance, and interesting enough to draw people closer,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president – exhibition and communications at AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology. “As long-time IMTS visitors arrive at the South Building and see the balloon outside Chicago’s McCormick Place they break into smiles and say, ‘It's IMTS time!’ For new visitors it’s a visually striking and unexpected image.”

The balloon can be seen at:

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