Does it make sense to replace a series of separate machine tools with a single multitasking machine that performs turning, milling and drilling all in one cycle?
Editor-in-Chief, Modern Machine Shop
Does it make sense to replace a series of separate machine tools with a single multitasking machine that performs turning, milling and drilling all in one cycle? While the separate machines can all be cutting simultaneously, the multitasking machine reduces the non-value-adding time lost to setup and part loading. For a particular set of parts, which is best? Mazak developed a software utility to help answer this question—a Multitasking Calculator into which the user can input lot sizes, setup times, load and unload times, staffing, cycle times and other relevant factors.
Neil Desrosiers is a software developer with Mazak who helped create the calculator. He says there are certain multitasking cost savings—particularly reduced scrap and inventory—that do not show up in the calculator’s analysis. The utility is actually more useful when these costs are already low. An example is a lean manufacturing process, he says. In such a process, using the calculator can reveal whether a done-in-one machine tool might make the process leaner.
The utility potentially also offers a glimpse of the user’s future, he says. Newcomers to multitasking usually have cycle times that are nearly equal to the sum of the cycles on the previous standalone machines. But with experience, this cycle time comes down. The shop finds ways to make the multitasking cycle better. Therefore, by assuming a conservative cycle time for multitasking within the calculator, then shaving this time to see the effect on the analysis, the user can get a look at how his savings from multitasking are likely to progress.