A Vertical Bridge Mill Provides Big Opportunities
Seeing your company as a boring-mill shop is a problem when only 20 percent of your jobs are actually boring-mill related. It’s also a problem to have the space and potential to produce large parts when you only win 6 to 14 percent of the large-part jobs you quote.
When Paul Schlatter established Napoleon Machine in 2010, the facility and machines he leased hadn’t been used in years. The machines themselves hadn’t been updated since 1996. In 2011, Mr. Schlatter brough on current president and owner Keven Febrey to lead shopfloor operations and strategic planning for the company. To remake the old job shop into a success, Mr. Febrey basically had to start from scratch.
“The biggest hurdle was the equipment itself,” he says. The facility’s size gave it the possibility of large-parts machining, but the outdated equipment was holding it back, keeping it from winning an adequate number of boring-mill-related jobs and large-part jobs. And for the large-part jobs it did win, setup times were between four and eight hours.
After investing in a Toyoda LB63324M mill with a vertical bridge, right-angle head, through-tool coolant and a 60-tool-capacity ATC, the company hit the ground running. The Toyoda made a solid impact on the shop floor in three ways:
- The right-angle head reduced setup times and improved part quality by increasing machining capabilities.
- It enabled the company to run repeat parts and processes.
- It reduced the shop’s run time per machined component by 49 percent on large-part projects.
While it used to win between 6 and 14 percent of its large-part jobs it quoted each year, these factors have enabled Napoleon to win 52 percent of the work quoted on its Toyoda bridge mill. It has also helped the company begin a transition in the type of work or the mix of work it can do.
Fast CNC processing and high-pressure coolant contribute to removing metal at dramatic rates. But what should a shop know about cutting tools in high speed machining?
When this aerospace job shop settled on machining tungsten alloys and other heavy metals as its specialty, it had to have a machine tool, cutting tools, workholding and process know-how to succeed.
Years of trial and error combined with the appropriate machining technology allow this company to produce custom parts made of alumina, zirconia, boron nitride and other advanced ceramic materials. One example of key machining technology is a five-axis machining center used exclusively to produce the complex, tightly toleranced geometry that fire-hardened workpieces require.