I happened to be in the Chicago area in time to take in part of a day at the Discover More with Mazak Midwest event at the company's Technology Center in Schaumburg, Ill. Designed to help attendees “discover new tools and techniques for staying ahead of the manufacturing curve,” the event brought several good ideas to my attention. Here are four that particularly stand out.
- Mazak is big on MTConnect, the open communication protocol that provides “interconnectability” among CNC machines, shopfloor devices and software applications from different suppliers. Mazak has helped more than 173 customers to implement MTConnect-enabled applications, involving more than 800 machines. In fact, Mazak uses MTConnect for machine monitoring in its own factory in Florence, Ky.
- Per Matt Gimbel, production manager at Penske Racing, the Penske team uses its Mazak five-axis e410 Integrex machine to produce critical parts such as steering knuckles. With the latest changes in NASCAR regulations, the new top priority for racing teams is not squeezing in a little more horsepower, but rather squeezing out a few pounds. Instead of having separate parts welded together, the steering knuckle is now produced as a more compact, lighter-weight, one-piece casting. The Integrex enables Penske to do the complex machining that this casting requires.
- Do done-in-one when you can, but if multiple setups are unavoidable to complete a part, Dan Skulan from Renishaw made the point that today’s advanced probing systems can greatly reduce the risk of introducing errors when refixturing workpieces, changing tools or working lights out. Probing technology makes new machining strategies possible.
- Cloud-based manufacturing resources are a harbinger of sunnier days for machining companies that program CNC machines. Reps from Esprit, for example, were showing how their CAM software tapped into the Kennametal's cloud-based NOVO system to incorporate the latest tooling recommendations, matching machining data and process knowledge.