Our industry is family oriented. Husbands and wives are still the most popular business partners. Children "following in the footsteps of their parents" are more than a dream in our industry. In addition to the contract manufacturing members of our industry, our distributors and builders of all sizes have family members involved in their operations.
Dan Diorio, President of Dechrisdan Corporation, the Southern California distributor for Fadal Engineering Company, has been active in our industry since 1967. Initially responsible for the Slo Syn Tape Controls produced by Superior Electric, Mr. Diorio started running the customer demonstrations and participating in trade shows. After working with distributors in 11 western states, he became a machine tool salesman. In 1975, Mr. Diorio began selling Bandit controls, Mori Seiki lathes and Matsuura mills. In the early '80s he was the first to sell a Fadal VMC 40 after he met its developers, Larry, Dave and Adrian de Caussin.
While Mr. Diorio was busy helping machine shops and small industrial plants improve their productivity with the machine tools and accessories he represented, his son, Dan Diorio Jr., was completing his education. A degree in computer programming and accounting is not the typical background for a machine tool designer, but Dan Jr. grew up in our industry and worked in the shop at Fadal Engineering while still in high school.
"I started working in machine shops when I was 16 years old," Dan Jr. said. "I was familiar with machine tools because my family has been in the business for as long as I can remember. They had all been involved on the sales side of the business, whereas I was interested in the production side." After finishing school, Dan Jr. went to work for Grindley Manufacturing.
"They had been a customer of my father for years," he said. "The company built a small bar feed to automate the lathes that my father supplied their shop. When Dad brought new customers in to see his machines in operation, they started asking Grindley if they would make a bar feed unit for them. Sales went well, but I started spending more time in the shop tinkering with the units to make them better. Before long we were able to hire a salesman and I was in the shop full time designing and running production."
Since this was a sideline to Grindley's core business, the company eventually asked Dan Jr. if he was interested in purchasing the project. "I jumped at the chance, got a loan from the bank, and moved into our own building," he said. "CNC Enhancements was born."
Dan Jr.'s vision was to increase the productivity of the automatic bar loader. Current technology had been using the traditional "feed-to-stop" method of pushing barstock into a CNC lathe. Not only was this method slower than Dan's new "feed-to-length" approach, but the stop occupied a tool position in the turret.
These are the four steps of the improved operation.
- While the last part is machined, the loader is preparing the new bar.
- Chuck opens, the new bar ejects the remnant as it moves to the programmed position. No turret stop needed.
- Chuck closes, the first part is being machined.
- Chuck opens, the bar is fed into position without a turret stop.
The Autobar 400 from CNC Enhancements has had an impact on our industry. Since the introduction in 1996, all the major suppliers of short stack bar loaders now also offer a "feed-to-length" version of their product. In the 31/2 years this small American manufacturer has been in business, it has continually pushed for improvement. It has pioneered features such as the feed to length operation, bar measurement on the fly, subspindle mode, collet stop mode and short shaft loading. CNC Enhancements lives with process improvement every day, not just in the products that it produces, but also in the way it conducts its manufacturing operations.
The company now produces four bar feed models and the necessary accessories to make them as productive as possible. In addition to the Autobar 400, the company also produces the Autobar 400 XL (six-foot bar capacity); The HydroTurn Series (hydrostatic system); and the compact Autobar 300. CNC Enhancements is producing units for a number of lathe builders with the machine tool manufacturers' names on the system.
Back to Dan Sr.—in the important Southern California machine tool market he is recognized as a ground breaker by his customers and contemporaries. However, nothing that he has personally accomplished produces the gleam in his eye and the pride that is visible when he talks about his son's success.