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Untended machining can lead a shop down a short road to higher production, which of course should equate to higher profits and faster return on investment for its machines. Greater product demand in both domestic and international markets (and competition to land these jobs) is prompting an increase in automation and lights-out operations. Companies are working hard to find ways to get the most from their machines.
But untended machining is not as simple as just starting a job and walking away. Much preparation and planning must go into the process first. You need to consider the type of material being run and that there is an adequate supply of consistently sized stock loaded in the bar feeder. Accurate forecasting of tool wear and proper tool monitoring should be in place to ensure quality parts. And accessories such as chip conveyors, mist collectors, coolant delivery and fire suppressant systems should be in top condition.
To see how one shop runs the majority of its work without supervision, read “The New American Night Shift." Another shop has managed to cut production costs by 40 percent during untended operations (read “U.K. Shop Is Turned On To Lights-Out Machining”). To see the difference machine tool accessories can bring to lights-out, read “Successful Untended Operation.”
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