Automation Questions and Comments
Make more money with automation, do it wisely. It can be simple.
Automation has become an important tool to be used to survive in today’s difficult market. Most unfamiliar with automation techniques assume that it is not for them. In many cases this is incorrect. The OmniTurn system has been designed with automation in mind. End users might want to review their requirements and possibly add some simple automation and reduce the work load on operators. Here is a concise overview of automation issues, techniques, and possible applications.

With all aspects of manufacturing and engineering there are always trade offs. The joke goes that you can only have “two out of three”. Here it is the same:

Speed - Convertibility - Price.

In almost all cases you can get only two out of the three. In many cases two out of three will be more than enough.

High volume, dedicated application:

First off, what do we mean by “High Volume”? We take it to mean any job that will run longer than 6 months without having to change the setup. Notice that we look at the length of the run, not the number of parts. Automation of this type should be considered to be replacing operator costs and increase production rates. The cost of implementing a dedicated loader usually takes the 6 months to offset an operator’s salary and overhead charge. Loaders that will be dedicated to one job do not need to be Convertible. This leave us to play with speed and price. Dedicated loaders can be simple to design and implement since they are built around doing only one job. Usually load times are around the 3 seconds. However there are cases where we have been down around 1.2 seconds. Many factors come into play with load time and capability. Blank consistency, work holding, material issues, and tooling life are only a few of the issues for long run, dedicated systems. OmniTurn has been building dedicated systems for our customers for years. Let us take a look at your part, maybe we can come up with an idea that will make automation possible.

To “Bowl” or “not to Bowl”? Is this a question?

Most customers assume that a bowl is required for long running production automation. OmniTurn wonders how often the bowl is really needed? We find in many applications having an operator once in a while fill an infeed track is more cost efficient. You could make argue that automation is implemented to remove operator intervention. However there are still reasons to keep an operator near the setup: Tool life, tolerance maintenance, part outflow safeguarding, chip removal, etc. While the operator is maintaining the other issues of the work cell, they could fill the infeed track. If the track holds at 30 minutes of parts, it still frees the operator for other duties and still load a number of automated OmniTurns. After a job has been up and running for a while it is a better time to determine if the purchase of a bowl is justified. If your automation is designed to work with a bowl, then the addition of it at a later date is simple!

Similar part automation:

There are many instances where part family production is critical to making a product economically. Here we have a case where automation will be needed for a long time, but must be convertible enough to handle variations in the blank part. This could be variations in lengths, diameters, shapes, etc. If the parts all maintain some basic characteristics it is possible to build automation that can be changed over quickly. Here the 3rd item to be left out could be either the speed or price. In come cases we can build systems that are convertible and fast at a higher price. Or one that is convertible and less expensive but not as fast. The defining issue is usually the lot size and how often the loader will have to be changed over. The longer the runs, the more important the speed.

Simple automation:

Here the issues are usually price and delivery. Many jobs will have to be in production and running within a week or two. So speed of getting the loader up and running is important. The other issue is price. In many cases the job will only be on the shop floor for a few weeks or less. This does not warrant spending thousands and taking weeks of a tool maker's time. Here OmniTurn has come up with simple loader ideas and implemented them many times over the years very successfully. With the simple type we are happy to help you build your own, or build a turnkey for you. The most important thought to remember that there is such a thing as SIMPLE automation. A few hours of tinkering can save hundreds of hours of operator’s costs.

Give us a call.

Before you contact us please review your application. Both of us will have to get a handle on the following before we can quote or advise you:

• Lot size

• Work holding issues

• Blank tolerances

• Blank conditions

• Material consistency

• Finished part tolerances

• Chip issues

• Part handling issues

• Through put requirement