You may have heard the expression "Time is money." While that's still true today, we've all learned that it's really the number of good components completed each day that adds to the bottom line. Maximizing machine uptime by building large quantities of machined components for stock is a luxury we can no longer afford because inventory costs are too high and product life cycles have grown shorter each year.
To meet these challenges and those of tomorrow may mean re-inventing the way you do business. First of all, you may need to produce a greater variety of components every month. This will require equipment that is more flexible, more reliable, can be changed over in a few minutes, and that can still produce the greatest throughput each day "Just in time" will no longer be a goal; it will be a mandate. Customer requirements may make it necessary for you to produce smaller batches of different parts more often. This means that setup times won't have to be just slashed; they'll have to be virtually eliminated on repeat jobs!
One answer to this challenge is to continually purchase a number of lower cost commodity-type machining centers. After all, this has been the strategy of many companies for the last ten years. The downside is that multiple machines require more financial capital, more floor space, more staffing, and more maintenance. All these factors add up to increased manufacturing cost per hour, which quickly offsets the gains of flexibility, shorter lead times, and quicker setups. Another factor is that one brand of "commodity" machining centers may be required for high speed machining while another may be required for components made from difficult-to-machine materials. This results in reduced flexibility for scheduling and possible over- and under-utilization of the machine tool as component requirements change. This also makes operator and maintenance cross training expensive. The strategy of utilizing several lower cost commodity-type machining centers may not meet tomorrow s challenge as effectively as it did yeste rday.
As a leading manufacturer of machining centers, Kitamura has supplied machine tools to thousands of customers since the introduction of the Mycenter series in 1981. We've listened...