Page 30 - MetalForming March 2011
P. 30

 • 1000-in./min. rapid traverse
“That 400-ton stamping press is a high-use resource for us, and if we need to get a die out of and back into the press in a hurry, inhouse machining offers us the best way to do that,” says Zimmerman. “We’re more flexible and responsive in the eyes of our customers, an absolute necessity as we look to grow and succeed.”
Grow and succeed describes exactly the path on which MMP finds itself. With its newly expanded toolroom capacity as its backbone, the company now has the capacity to design and build as many as 90 dies/yr., says Zimmerman. “We’ll
build twice as many dies in 2011 (50 to 55 new dies) as we did in 2010, and we’re also ramping up production in the tool- room with new fixtures to boost our robotic-welding capabilities.”
MMP added a new Panasonic robot- ic-welding cell in 2007 and recently updated it with new gas-tungsten-arc- welding (GTAW ) technology which, says Zimmerman, “is opening up new doors for us. The new GTAW equip- ment has greatly improved weld qual- ity compared to gas-metal-arc weld- ing, which many of our customers have become excited about. So our tool- room, in addition to supporting the
pressroom, is busy supporting our robotic-welding operations with new jigs and fixtures, as well as building test gauges for our quality-control department.”
People Power
Of course expanding the toolroom’s capacity and its abilities—to work on larger dies as well as design and build welding and assembly fixtures and jigs—takes more than just technology. The toolmakers need to communicate and understand the needs of the vari- ous production departments—“weld- ing, for example,” offers Zimmerman. “Our designers and toolmakers worked hard to better understand the unique requirements of the robotic welding cell, areas such as how the robot needs to access each weldment, what works best in terms of fixture design to allow the line workers to quickly and accu- rately move the welded assemblies into and out of the jig, etc. All of this has to be accounted for in the fixture design.
“We’re also taking our toolroom work- ers out to visit our customers,” Zimmer- man continues, “to learn how we can better design our dies and fixtures to help the customers achieve their goals related to end-product form, fit and func- tion. It all starts in the toolroom.” MF
Toolroom Technology
   Investing in this new Milltronics VM 30 model vertical machining center has allowed Mitchell Metal to bring back inhouse the large-format die machining it had been outsourcing.
 Efficiency, Cost Effectiveness Critical Success Factors
The 16,000-sq.-ft. toolroom at met- alformer Batesville Tool & Die (BT&D), Batesville, IN, employs 76 pro- fessionals who primarily focus on inte- grating engineering changes to existing automotive dies. New-die design and build comprises about 40 percent of toolroom activity for the automotive stamper. In 2010, the BT&D toolroom built or re-engineered some 200 dies, and expects to handle the same volume of work in 2011, focused on keeping its 40 production-stamping presses up and running.
Kanban in the Toolroom
When we caught up with machining manager Toby Walsman, six dies occu- pied his toolroom benches—two new dies and four undergoing development to handle engineering changes handed down by customers. While ensuring that production dies stay in the press- es as much as possible, with minimal time spent on a toolroom bench for maintenance, Walsman has been focused in recent years on ensuring that the BT&D toolroom operates at optimum efficiency and productivity—
and profitability. In his journey to building a lean toolroom, Walsman explains how he and his team have perfected a routing system that tracks and controls all die details moving through the toolroom.
“We built a tracking system using Excel and a kanban pull system to man- age production,” Walsman says. “When we build a new die, we review the tool carefully and look at each station, and then determine the inventory of spare die components we should maintain in our crib. We consider the volume of
MetalForming/March 2011

   28   29   30   31   32