Why am I offering this gift of a free of charge trip for two people to Italy?
To celebrate the opening of the first Blog about FLEXIBLE PRODUCTION where I will share useful concepts and ideas with people who are associated with the world of machining parts to specifications through the removal of chips with the target to PRODUCE WHAT YOU SELL, with NO STOCK, NO STRESS, MORE CASH!
Many companies have been forced to come up with new ways to stay competitive, and there are many cases where company owners simply gave up in the face of horrendous market situations.
Typically, Asian countries, China in particular, attack the sector with aggressive, almost cut-throat prices. This is possible thanks to a combination of cheap labour and government aid, operating a scorched earth policy to combat long-established companies that had been working for years in the sectors of the production of custom-made components.
Nowadays, purchasing a tool machine is anything but easy. I am sure that if you have ever been involved in this situation in any way, the memories you associate with the supplier selection phase do not bring back feelings of PEACE OF MIND and TRANQUILLITY, but quite the opposite.
For production machinery of a certain range (not the simple lathe or mill), where the value of the investments is high, the decision maker for the purchase is sure to feel high levels of stress.
When the management assigns a person or group the task of choosing a supplier, at that precise moment they place a very heavy load on the shoulders of that person or group which, on a psychological level, is certainly significant. This is a great burden.
First of all, different parties usually end up paying the consequences of a wrong investment, and no one is benefited; here is a list of the parties involved:
So, there are two parties involved, but let’s go in order and see what happens to each one.
The company that makes the wrong investment is obviously the first to be damaged; purchasing equipment means spending money, so, if a “wrong” investment has clearly been made, there will be no expected results hence the investment will not pay for itself, leading to a huge economic loss.
Today, it is increasingly important to win the challenge of producing medium-small lots to order. In fact, if the technologies are clear for the two ends of the production world, in the “world in the middle” devastating mistakes can be made. Let’s take a look at what happens at the two ends in order to better understand how to approach the “world in the middle”.
For the first family of the large volumes, the transfer machine will always be the machine of choice. The larger the volumes, the more I can produce in parallel using many work units, in order to obtain a “Formula 1” cycle time!
The right solution for the second family, featuring low volumes, is represented by common machining centers where, in this case, there is only one work spindle, and the cycle time is the sum of all tools that process the piece, one after the other. This methodology is well suited for lots from zero to 500 pieces.
In the past, production volumes were split into these two large families. In today’s industry, we can see a merging of the two areas towards the middle, with lots from 500 to 5000 pieces. This is due to various reasons, which are listed here below.
A vast majority of these large volumes have left first-world countries in favour of developing countries, which are specialised in the production of extremely large volumes, especially for simpler products with irrelevant tolerances.
For large volumes as in the automotive sector, the first world still manages to do well, thanks to very hi-tech TRANSFER machines, featuring extremely high production rates and in-process checks as well as de-burring operations included in the work cycle.
Developing countries are unable to compete armed with low labour costs because the quality of their products is not constant compared to products made with TRANSFER machines. All this will work until the day that developing countries also start investing in this type of machinery.
When you have to choose which technology to adopt in your company and you don’t want to make a bad investment, doubts begin to take control and it seems that you are no longer able to think with your common sense.
Today I want to address an issue that I often deal with: is it better to buy a TWIN-SPINDLE or the MULTICENTER? Looking at how often I am asked this question, I decided to dedicate an article to the subject.
When the number of parts to be produced starts to increase, and one machine is not enough, over the years I was able to see 3 possible solutions:
Let’s analyse, step by step, the 3 options described above starting with the most instinctive one, i.e. to increase the number of machines.
As mentioned, this is the most instinctive option. I produce 200 pieces with one machine, I have to produce 800 pieces. What do I do? Buy another 3 machines.
Why am I speaking of INSTINCT? Because INSTINCT is an automatic behaviour. This means that it is not the result of learning or of personal choice. Instinct has a rather rigid relationship with what you desire.
This aspect intrigued me. I tried to better understand how instinct works and this is what I found.
A peculiar characteristic of an instinctive action is the lack of bases from past experiences, but it seems to be an innate behaviour, as if it had come from a characteristic inherent in our genetic makeup, and is carried out in a similar way by different individuals, often without a clear purpose.