WORKHOLDING PARTS MANUFACTURER UPGRADES HMCs TO IMPROVE ACCURACIES, GAIN EFFICIENCY AND ADD CAPACITY FOR LARGER WORKPIECES.
Abbott Workholding Products was faced with the need to address a
number of production issues related to its aging lineup of horizontal
“We saw the need to update several of our machines and we decided
to thoroughly assess our current capabilities and determine the
solution that would best meet our needs moving forward,”
said Doug Reed, Vice President, Operations at Abbott Workholding
A leading manufacturer of tooling columns (tombstones),
chuck jaws and master plates, the Manhattan, KS-based company
was founded in Phoenix 1954 as the Abbott Engineering &
Manufacturing Company producing soft jaws and the first Pie Jaw
brand chuck jaw. Spurred on by the success of the Pie Jaw, Abbott
expanded the product line to include tooling columns, tooling blocks,
master plates and segments. In 1993 the company moved from
Phoenix to its current location and further expanded its product line
up to include steel and aluminum soft jaws, cast iron and steel Pie
Jaws and associated fixturing. Today, Abbott manufactures more
than 4,000 aluminum, steel and cast iron workholding products and
ships them across the U.S and around the world.
Abbott realized that increased maintenance of its older model HMCs
was resulting in more downtime and a decrease in production
throughput. In addition, because of the age of the machines, repair
parts were becoming more difficult to find and more expensive.
But while the cost of replacement parts was certainly an issue, there
were many other problems caused by the aging machining centers.
One big concern was that Abbott’s workpiece requirements had
outpaced its capability to produce them. Abbott had added many
new products over the years, including larger sized tooling columns
that required larger workzones and heavier load capacities.
Another consideration—and perhaps most importantly for Abbott--
was its desire to increase production quality standards.
“We have always had the reputation of being a quality manufacturer,
but we wanted to ensure that we constantly improve our quality
standards moving forward, particularly as our customers demand
tighter tolerances and higher quality products,” Doug Reed said.
Several solutions were considered to meet the machining challenge
including double column machining centers. However, since it was
already using horizontal machining centers and was familiar with its
operation and capabilities, Abbott decided to stay with a horizontal
“Key to the purchase decision, we wanted to partner with a supplier
that stood behind its products and had an excellent reputation for
service and support that continued long after installation,”
Doug Reed reiterated. “We were fortunate to attend an SNK Open
House and be able to speak with all of the key department people
along with loyal NIIGATA users who were able to assure us-not only
of their satisfaction with the reliability and performance of NIIGATA
machines-but with SNK’s commitment to its customers.”
Convinced that SNK America was their “go to” supplier and after
reviewing the project parameters, the NIIGATA SPN901 was the
clear choice for Abbott.
For starters, floor shop space was somewhat limited, so the machine
had to fit a defined space. But the SPN901 APC set-up area was
open and allowed the operator easy access to the set up area. As
Abbott has many very small production runs, part changeover
considerations were crucial in the selection process.
When features and specifications were considered, the SPN901 was
a perfect match. With a large, operator-friendly workzone, table
working surface of 31.5” x 31.5” and a maximum mass on pallet of
5,500lbs., it can easily accommodate larger workpieces. This
includes the new 1,000mm tooling columns as well as custom
designed products Abbott offers its customers. With a 40HP spindle
drive motor (8,000 rpm) that generates 443 ft.lbs of torque, the
SPN901 is capable of machining A713 Tenzaloy (aged to T-6 condition),
aluminum, steel and cast iron workpieces. X,Y and Z-axis travel-at
59.1”, 51.2” and 45.3” respectively, means that Abbott can produce
even larger workpieces should that be required in the future.
Rapid feedrates of 1,968 ipm improves efficiency. Fanuc 30i CNC
controller is utilized and achieves significant improvements in
accuracy with ±0.00016” on the X-Y-Z stroke-ideal for the tighter
tolerances Abbott was looking to achieve.
But the proof is in the numbers and so far Abbott has seen
substantial gains in production throughput. The large matrix type
ATC has reduced set up time by 25% and has improved the ability
to deliver products quickly to their end users. Abbott has substantially
improved quality as well by improving tolerances of their tooling
columns by 50%.
Abbott will continue to monitor the performance of the SPN901,
but after only a few short months, they are more than pleased
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