Cleveland, Ohio is filled with industries of all types but the Forging industry is one of the larger and most applicable for use with FARO products. Over the past 6 months, I have had the opportunity to build a relationship with one of the bigger Forging manufacturers in my territory who have recently added unique processes utilizing the FARO® Laser ScanArm® and Arm technologies.
One of the aspects commonly seen in the Forging industry is the need for tooling in order to manufacture required products. The most common manufacturing practice is to set up a machining center near where products are being manufactured so tooling can be easily modified, reworked, or created new.
This standard technique or practice dates back to the industrial revolution timeframe and is a logical solution for providing quick turnaround for on-demand tooling and also lessening machine downtime.
Conversely, the customer I have been working with has decided to break the paradigm and five years ago started a “Technology Division” on the Eastside of Cleveland. This new division is dedicated to new forge tooling development, as well as repair/rework of existing tooling. It was started with just one CNC mill but now boasts fourteen CNC mills feeding all three forging plants the company owns. The company’s tooling manager stated, “The idea was to centralize all tooling under one roof in order to improve tooling costs and streamline the time to manufacturer these items as efficiently as possible.” Management felt a strong need to deviate from the standard individual tool shop at each manufacturing facility. In creating the technology division they are seeing less material waste, improved machine uptime, more overall control on the tooling process and improved centralized design for quicker turnaround on tooling. With their current set-up, they are able to turn-around an estimated 10,000 tools per month. “This number would not be possible with the old individual machining center process”, added the tooling manager.
Without the FARO ScanArm, the idea of a centralized tooling division would be very difficult and time-consuming, maybe not even possible. Once a tool is received into the technology division, a color map of the tooling scan against CAD is used to determine the current state of the tool and what adjustments or corrections need to be made. Welding requirements are then determined and carried out, then machining scheduled at the CNC milling centers. Once machining is complete, a final scan is captured in order to verify acceptability of the tool.
It is during the machining phase of the process, as described above, that another useful application for the FARO ScanArm exists. Before machining takes place, an off-line mill setup aligns the tool. A second ScanArm is utilized for this alignment process. It uses the DRO functionality of the device to accurately align the tooling onto a heavy-duty metal pallet before placement into the CNC machine. This off-line setup is one of the ways the company has been able to drastically improve turnaround time on the tooling and increase machine uptime. By accurately pinning the metal pallet inside the CNC machine after alignment, the set-up time in the mill is greatly reduced, even more importantly quickly repeatable. If it is found the tool needs more weld, the pallet can be removed, weld added and re-pinned into the CNC in 10-15 minutes instead the standard 45-60 minutes. This alignment process solely provides our customer with a tremendous savings in terms of machine and labor efficiency.
I wanted to write about this application not only to share about the “Technology Division” concept but also give examples of more ways the FARO ScanArm is changing the way manufacturing is being improved. It’s exciting to see companies venture away from the old standards and creating new processes that can drive process improvement and overall manufacturing efficiencies, resulting in savings to the company’s bottom line financials.
For more information about the application of the FARO® Laser ScanArm® in the Forging industry, please fill out the form below.