Mill Turn Load/Unload Automation

Customer Information - The customer is a leader in the design and manufacture of Solenoids, Valves, LVDTs and Flame Arrestors.

Model LT10D Parts Handled

Application - The automated loading and unloading of a Nakamura-Tome Super NTJX mill-turn machining center coupled with 100% leak testing.

Background - The family of parts start out as stainless steel castings. The parts were machined to the final part configuration in two operations using a live-tool lathe and horizontal mill, followed by a 100% pressure test.  Machinists split their time between the two operations, working two (2) 10-hour shifts per day, 5 1/2 days per week. The pressure testing was done at additional cost during the assembly of the valve.  Outside suppliers were also developed to help meet production requirements.

Problem - As part volumes increased, all suppliers struggled to keep up with demand.  The further success of the part required more throughput in terms of total volume, and decreases in cost.  It was recognized that the inefficiencies of hand-loading inhibited production efficiency, and splitting the work between separate machines and departments presented work-flow challenges . The high amount of labor and handling also contributed to unacceptably high production costs .  It was time to make a change.

Solution -  Implementation of an Automated Cells & Equipment Model LT10D Machine Tender to perform the automated load and unload of the part in a new single machine tool as well as automating the pressure testing.

Model LT10D LH ViewModel LT10D RH View
Model LT10D Drawer OpenModel LT10D Robot

Equipment Used

  • Automated Cells Model LT10D Machine Tender
  • Fanuc M20iA 6-axis robot
  • Dual mechanical gripper for pick-up of raw and finished parts and blow-off for automated chuck cleaning
  • Customer supplied Leak Test Station
  • Sample and reject part chutes
  • Safety enclosure with interlocks

Results - Installation of the Model LT10D Machine Tender allowed the customer to use only one (1) operator on a part time basis (40 percent of their time) to load raw parts, monitor part quality, perform adjustments to the machine, and pack the completed parts. For various members of the part family, the throughput of the machining operation increased by 25-35% and the total production cost was reduced by 60-70% with the addition of the new machine tool and Model LT10D. The majority of the improvements come from the efficiency of the load/unload automation enabling them to regularly achieve efficiencies in the 90% range.

The automation frees up the machinists to focus on other tasks, and incorporating all machining and leak testing into the cell allows "real time" feedback on part quality resulting in reduced scrap rates. An Additional benefit of the Model LT10D is the customer is able to run additional parts after 2nd shift in a “Lights-Out” configuration, constrained only by the limits of tooling, tolerances, and chip control.

Customer Testimonial - “I would tell them, I would not be afraid of working with ACE again. They have good product, good solutions. I was very happy with everything they put together from the preparation and planning through ease of use of the whole package.”

Contact Information
Automated Cells & Equipment, Inc.
3435 Enterprise Drive
Painted Post, NY 14870
Phone: 607.936.1341 Fax: 607.936.1531