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Benefiting from tailor-made tools

Inside manufacturing 2020-01-23 Mattias Karen Andrew Butler

Spending a few minutes designing a customized drill bit led to a drastic reduction in cycle time for Kawasaki Precision Machinery.

​When hydraulic technology specialist Kawasaki Precision Machinery wanted to speed up one of its drilling processes, it only needed to spend a few minutes designing a tailor-made tool from Sandvik Coromant. The result was a customized drill that reduced one cycle time by more than 10 percent, saving the Plymouth, England-based company thousands of dollars a year on just one of its products. It was all thanks to a few clicks of the mouse on Sandvik Coromant’s Tailor-Made Web, which allows customers to quickly create and order customized tools that perfectly fit their needs.
“Sandvik Coromant’s tailor-made solution has led to big time savings at our plant,” says Kane Ewings, the Kawasaki production engineer who helped design the drill. “It also sped up the tool design process by putting the control back in our own hands. Now we’re looking into how we can use tailor-made tools in ways that could be implemented in many places across our plant.”

​At its factory in Plymouth, on Britain’s southwest coast, Kawasaki Precision Machinery creates world-class pumps, motors and valves that are used throughout the maritime industry and other sectors. The company has been a Sandvik Coromant customer for more than 20 years and uses Sandvik Coromant tools for drilling, milling, turning and boring. However, it wanted a better way to drill holes for the bolts in one of its cast-iron Staffa motor cases. Kawasaki was using two separate drill bits – one for the hole itself and one for the countersink – because the standardized-solution step drill wasn’t suitable for both jobs.
With 35 holes to drill in each motor case, it was a time-consuming process. For each case, a machine would first have to drill the holes with one bit; then the tool was changed and the process was repeated for the countersinks. So Ewings sat down with Graham Paterson, a Sandvik Coromant sales engineer, to find a better solution.

​It only took a few minutes. By logging on to the Tailor-Made section of Sandvik Coromant’s customer website, Ewings and Paterson were able to design a customized drill bit with two separate diameters that fit the needed geometry – one diameter for the hole and one for the countersink. That meant the entire process could now be done with the same tool.
To design a new tool on the Tailor-Made Web, a customer simply feeds the required measurements into the system, which then instantly creates a drawing and 3D model of the tool. When the design is finished, the customer gets an immediate quote for prices and delivery times and can place an order with just another click.
“The 3D model is great because we could use that in our CAD software to make the necessary tweaks before placing the order,” Ewings says. “By lining the tool up in CAD, it’s a lot easier to visualize and see if you have the correct measurements. We can even 3D print a version of the tool.”

​For Kawasaki, which became the first company to order a Tailor-Made tool from the online system, the total lead time from design to implementation of the new drill bit was only around five weeks.
“This system makes life much easier for any company that requires tailor-made tools,” Paterson says. “Previously it could take two weeks for the design team to create the right specifications and come back with a design and quotation. Then it had to be approved before it went into manufacturing; it involved a lot of back and forth. This system spits out the solution instantaneously, which gives the customer much more control. Customers get to see a live design right in front of them within a few minutes, and they can make any changes they need. It’s literally just a couple of clicks to change something and then you get it back right away.”
A productivity analysis showed that the new tool has produced instant results. The cycle time for each motor case has been reduced by 2½ minutes, which translates into saving four pounds (5.15 US dollars) per component. That’s money that quickly adds up, as Kawasaki produces 42 of those particular motor cases per day. The actual machine time was reduced by 30 percent.

​And there could be even bigger savings in the future. Kawasaki produces dozens of other parts that could potentially use similar solutions.
“We’ll definitely be looking into how we can use this with other tools,” Ewings says. “This is a very innovative system. I had never seen this kind of solution offered before.”



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