At the plant in Brazil, a business relationship between a manufacturer of engine blocks and Sandvik Coromant grew closer when the customer decided to accept a proposal to replace a critical but unreliable machine, which bored into the blocks of diesel truck engines.
Breakdowns in an old machine that bored engine blocks were costing as much as BRL 80,000 (more than 30,000 euros) a year in downtime, and repairs in 2011 were projected to cost some BRL 30,000 (12,000 euros).
An unexpected proposal
Initially, the customer turned to Sandvik Coromant, seeking a stopgap solution, using the old machine. However, Sandvik Coromant salesman Antonio Granzoto proposed shifting some operations to newer, more flexible machines. Perhaps most crucially, the new layout would provide operators with a much safer working environment.
A manufacturing engineer at the company, recalls: “We’d seen people try to come up with solutions before and they hadn’t worked, but when we saw his presentation we thought, ‘Man, we have to try that. It could really work.’”
Reorganizing the machining line
Sandvik Coromant, which has maintained a presence within the plant since 2005, had built successful teams for process change before. This time the partners reorganized the entire machining line.
A line can only go as fast as the slowest machine. Rejigging presented two major challenges. Firstly, a new technology, Silent Tools, was needed to replace Operation 120. Secondly, all operations transferred from the old machine required review to ensure that no increase in production time occurred.
Granzoto’s plan specified that no single machine step would take more than 12 minutes. Implementation required a physical reorganization of the line. But if it succeeded, it could create savings of BRL 700,000 (270,000 euros) per year, much more than the project’s cost. And work it did. Even in the initial phase, the new system saved BRL 180,000 (almost 70,000 euros) a year just in operating expenses. The head manufacturing supervisor at the plant remarks:
“The project had a huge impact, not only on costs but in terms of ergonomics. We’re very happy. We introduced eight new tools in the testing phase just this year alone.
These kinds of “two hands” solutions are developed all the time. “They may come from one side or the other, but all the improvements and development work are done with two hands,” he adds.
“The new layout and tools reduced costs while increasing efficiency and lowering production time.”
The Operation 120 process involved repeated stoppage as well as safety issues, so instead of simply providing an extra boring for the dedicated machine, Sandvik Coromant created a solution through its Productivity Improvement Program to spread its function across other machines.
The solution relied on a new tool, Silent Tools, which is strong enough to precisely perform the Ø 120 mm bore on a flexible machine rather than a supported single-function machine. The antivibration Silent Tools bar allows long-length machining and makes it possible for the tool to work in a CNC machine with automatic tool changes, rather than in a dedicated machine as before..
Operation time cut from 6 minutes to 2
Crucially, the time required for the bearing camshaft rough operation was cut from six minutes to two, a time saving of extreme importance.
The entire production line was reassembled, and seven other processes were migrated to the Heller and GROB machines. The new layout and tools reduced costs while increasing efficiency and saving production time.
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