Finding Middle Ground

Here’s how one shop dealt with the problems created by parts that don’t lend themselves to either the toolroom or high-volume production equipment.


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Toolchangers, conversational programming and other features make these three machines the go-to resources for small-lot production at Burr Oak Tool.


Few manufacturers would adopt the same approach to high-mix, low-volume work and standard part numbers produced by the thousands. Whereas strategies for the former tend to emphasize flexibility and shop-floor-level decision making, strategies for the latter tend to involve standardized setups, sequences of operations worked out well in advance, and formalized channels of communication, among other characteristics.

On the surface, these differences might seem intuitive. In the real world, however, many jobs don’t fit neatly into either category. At Burr Oak Tool, a manufacturer of HVAC machinery in Sturgis, Michigan, the lack of a good home for such parts created capacity problems in multiple departments. In addition to revamping work flows throughout the facility, the solution involved investing in a machining system designed specifically for this troublesome middle category of work. Click here to learn more.