Technical Partnerships for Continuous Improvement

Continuous process improvement is a commitment which may require external input

In order to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive and complex global market, manufacturers must commit to continuously improving their products and processes.  However, companies must also understand that continuous improvement involves both internal optimization of their existing processes and an eye toward new technologies which can further enhance these processes.  This can be extremely difficult to achieve since it requires a fresh and unbiased review of internal processes and keeping up with the world of rapidly changing technology.  Even if the continuous improvement team can review internal operations in an unbiased manner, they may miss important application details which are engrained in previous procedures or simply misunderstood.  Similarly, applicable new technologies are often difficult to conceptualize and integrate, because “we don’t know what we don’t know”.

Once new technology becomes available, companies frequently have difficulty rationalizing the benefits of the investment or choose to invest in less expensive technology which may not provide the same value.  Even when the ideal technology is implemented, failure to completely understand proper integration and use can limit the return. Technology and machining will only go so far to ensure efficiency and product quality. A fully optimized manufacturing process strategy must include consultative support and education from vendor partners.

The value of consultative support

In all cases, consultative technical partners can provide critical support and guidance to the continuous improvement team.  Much like paid consultants, and often used by consultants for the same purpose, advisory technology providers have vast experience within their area of expertise.  An experienced partner will take the time to educate and guide manufacturers to proven improvements and solutions–even if they fall outside of their product lines.  A great consultative technical provider understands that a strong partnership, based on the value of their technical advice, will often lead the customer to logical decisions to purchase their products whenever possible, ultimately putting finding the right solution before making a sale.

Technical education is key

Oftentimes, inefficiency is a product of misunderstood application parameters or complacency regarding alternative solutions and improved technology.  Taking the time to educate customers on critical cutting parameters such as tool rim speed, chip load, proper part holding, proper tool holding, dust evacuation, and heat management can dramatically affect processing efficiency. Education is important for every person involved with the manufacturing process, from management to the team on the shop floor, and can be delivered in a classroom setting or as a practical application on the shop floor.

Developing, rationalizing and introducing customers to new processing technologies fills in the “what we didn’t know” gap.  The experience gained by working with many industry manufacturing partners provides insight as to which technologies truly work, and an understanding of how to optimize each.  Each step helps reduce the customer’s perceived investment risk and ensures favorable ROI from the technology.

The Leitz approach

Leitz is not only an industry leading manufacturer of advanced cutting technology but also a leading consultative technical provider. Leitz guidance is based on insight gathered from our multi-industry, worldwide perspective, and experience.  Our expert review, fueled by our belief that we can improve any cutting process, backed by our unconditional quality and performance guarantee, ensures our partner customers achieve the continuous improvement essential to their future.

Are you the top producer in your industry segment?  Are your manufacturing processes optimized?  Do you have the capacity to regularly conduct an unbiased review and improve these processes? Leitz does.  How can we help you continuously optimize manufacturing efficiency and profitability?

Form a partnership for continuous improvement with Leitz.

Tooling and Integrating Your First CNC

Congratulations, you’ve just bought your first CNC!  The price tag was a bit overwhelming, but breaking the price down into monthly and weekly costs makes the expense easier to rationalize.  The manufacturer has assured you that this machine will replace the majority of your current manual equipment and perform the same tasks much more efficiently.  Builds which would take weeks can now be accomplished in hours with greater accuracy and quality.

You’ve configured the machine footprint on your shop-floor, contracted an electrician to install the proper disconnect, and a dust collection company to install an external collector and piping.  The machine will arrive tomorrow, and the riggers will be here in the morning to off-load and set the machine.  A service tech from the manufacturer will arrive the following day to complete installation and begin training your operators.

Ready, set, WAIT… Tooling! You’ve completely forgotten about the tooling!  Unfortunately, this scenario is all too frequent.  Manufacturers focus on the machine, not realizing the machine is simply a big tool holder.  They don’t consider the importance of proper tooling when the tooling actually controls the efficiency, productivity, and ROI of the machine!  Make the wrong choices regarding tooling, or run tools at the wrong parameters, and your new production battleship becomes a tugboat.

Take for instance a Midwest cabinet manufacturer, who contacted us to urgently tool up their first CNC.  Thankfully basic collet chucks, solid carbide routing tools, and boring bits were stock items, but there are critical considerations when deciding which tools to utilize.

Tool holding is one of the most important considerations because this is the first point at which a weak link can be introduced to an otherwise rigid and precise machine.  Collet chucks may suffice for start-up purposes, or when running seldom used tools, but flexible collets allow for significant tool deflection and run-out.  Thankfully the customer was aware of and understood the value of the Leitz ThermoGrip heat-shrink chucks.  This collet-free chucking system extends the machine spindle rigidity and precision through the cutting tool.  By maintaining the perfect tool centerline, cutting pressure and workload are equally divided, providing excellent cut quality while yielding upwards of 25% longer tool life and allowing significantly higher processing speeds.  Thanks to the ThermoGrip chucking system, the customer believed in and is now realizing more than $16,000 in annualized operational savings (based on current single-shift production levels).

leitz, thermogrip, tooling, woodworking toolsThe customer inquired about the value of the Leitz solid carbide router bits offered, stating they could by the “same style” compression bit at a slightly lower cost from another source.  As always, we suggested the customer test both tools and track differences in longevity.  Solid carbide routers may look alike but can be made from dramatically different grades of carbide.  Carbide is essentially powdered tungsten (cutting element), held together with a cobalt binder and some trace performance elements.  The differences cannot be seen visually, but a hard carbide composition with 3% cobalt concentration will generally far outlast a softer carbide with 10% cobalt concentration.  Add to this a protective coating, and the slightly more expensive tool may outlast the lesser tool by a factor of 2 or 3 times.  The customer completed their testing and chose to use the Leitz tool for this reason.

This company also wanted to convert their old shaper profiling tools for use on the new CNC.

While It may be possible to convert certain shaper tools for use on a CNC, that may not the best choice. Your new CNC will process material at a much faster rate, and more than twice the RPMs, generally using lighter, more compact tools.  Beyond size and weight issues, the CNC will hold much tighter tolerances, but only if you equip it with precision tooling.

The customers’ existing three-wing, carbide-tipped tools may have “worked” on their shaper, but workpieces required significant manual repair and sanding.  Wanting to eliminate this expensive off-line processing, the customer was interested in higher quality profiling tools.  They found this quality in Leitz ProfilCut Q profile insert system, a light-weight and highly precise profiled insert system which provides almost perfect knife-to-knife precision.  Not only did these tools fit within the machine spindle weight and collision diameter specifications, but they also cut extremely quiet and provided a cut quality which did not require post-machine sanding.  The customer also appreciated the fact that they could manufacture various profiles through simple knife changes, and that these coated knives provided exceptional service life.

Even more critical than tool design is ensuring the operator understands how to optimize performance through proper operational parameters.  Even the best tools can be quickly destroyed by part movement, overheating, or excessive cutting pressure.  The Leitz consultant took the time to educate the operators about essential variables such as rim speed, chip-load, mass removal and part fixturing.  Above all, operators must ensure workpieces are securely held in place, vibration is eliminated, cutting pressure is regulated, and friction heat is removed from the cutting process via the wood chips.   Understanding how to apply these relatively simple machining parameters is the key to maximizing CNC process efficiency and profitability.

How can we help your production team maximize their process efficiency?

Leitz is the trusted tooling partner for today’s manufacturing leaders. For over 140 years, Leitz has set the standard for tooling development, innovation, application expertise, and service. We empower our customers with the right solutions to optimize their entire manufacturing process to meet their business goals.

Form a partnership for continuous improvement with Leitz. Fill out the form below or contact us at 800.253.6070 to talk about solutions.

Leitz Tooling Systems Canada Ready to Grow

Leitz CEO Jürgen Köppel and Lesley Morris, Leitz Canada’s new managing director, at the company’s new Canadian headquarters in Vaughan, Ont. (Photo: Woodworking)

Leitz Canada has moved its Canadian headquarters to Vaughan, Ont. just north of Toronto, expanding the sales and service center from 35,000 to about 80,000 square feet and adding new, state-of-the-art machine technology.

Read the full story >

 

Maximize the Benefits of Diamond Tooling with Continuous Education, Expert Service, and High-Quality Tooling

A premier office furniture manufacturer located in the Midwest increases the benefits of diamond tooling through education, service, and quality tooling.

Diamond tooling offers several benefits over traditional carbide tooling. However, if you are not getting longevity out of your diamond tooling, the cost benefits rapidly diminish.

This is the exact issue a market-leading office furniture manufacturer was experiencing. Unusual amounts of wear and damage to their diamond tooling and exceedingly long turn-around times from their tooling service provider were increasing production expenses and ruining efficiency.

Working with their Leitz representative, the manufacturer was able to identify and implement four areas of strategic improvement.

Tooling Quality

More PCD tip height on a tool’s cutting wing = more serviceable tool life. A taller PCD tip height will allow you to sharpen the tool more times before having to replace the tool. There are currently no industry standards for custom tool tip heights, so it’s important customers understand this significant tooling characteristic. Leitz designs their custom tools with maximum amount of usable tip height more than any other tooling provider and, therefore, provides the customer with more efficient, lowest applied cost tooling solutions.

Continuous Education

Diamond tooling is harder than carbide tooling. As such, it is also much more brittle. Most machine operators lack an understanding of the gravity of the cost difference between diamond and carbide tooling as well as how to properly handle diamond tooling to ensure the longevity of the tools. Leitz is providing ongoing education to teach the operator team how to handle and protect diamond tooling and increase tool life.

These photos show PDC damage due to improper tool handling. There is layered breaking within the PDC layer itself, similar to how shale rock would break. This can only be caused by side impact to the PCD.

Material Improvement

In addition to damage from mishandling, through extensive tool evaluation after running, including high-resolution photographs, the Leitz service team was able to identify and document frontal impact damage to the tool caused by impurities in the materials being cut. The manufacturer was able to return to their material provider and discuss reimbursement for damage and investigate alternative material options.

These photos show PCD damage due to impurities in the material. Damage is straight down through the entire layer of PDC and into the tool body.

Expert Service

Because of the multiple Leitz service centers located around the country, Leitz can provide a faster turn-around time for tool servicing. The manufacturer is now able to carry less tooling in-house with results in cost savings on their overall tooling inventory.

Although the furniture manufacturer was using a quality competitor, Leitz has provided a total tooling solution for the customer that will deliver more efficiency and maximize their investment. By understanding the difference in tooling service and handling, the manufacturer has watched their efficiencies grow and has realized positive downstream effects from the changes implemented during the manufacturing process.

Let’s talk about increasing the benefits of your PCD tooling through better service and education. Contact Leitz at (800) 253-6070 or fill out the form below.

Tooling Spotlight: ThermoGrip® Tool-Holding System

In our tooling spotlight, we break down what you need to know about our most effective tooling solutions. This month’s MVP is ThermoGrip CNC Tool-Holding System.

The Tool:

The Leitz ThermoGrip® heat-shrink tool-holding system offers unrivaled precision. The one-piece chuck design eliminates excess tool run-out common to collet and hydro tool-holding systems. Heat shrink technology allows for higher machine output, while yielding optimized cut quality and significantly extended tool life.

Heat shrink chucks offer the simplest and most rigid link between the machine spindle and cutting tool. Heat shrink chucks are inexpensive, one-piece tool holders, without moving or mechanical parts to wear or maintain.leitz, thermogrip, tooling, woodworking toolsThe ThermoGrip® tool holding system uses an inductive heating concept to provide stronger, more concentric tool clamping. This leads to increased tool life, better surface finishes, and improved cost efficiency.

What makes it better:

  • Highest torque transfer; essentially a one-piece tool and HSK-F63
  • Safe, rigid balanced to 36,000 RPMs
  • Optimized tool performance, finish quality
  • Increased cutting speeds (by 30%)
  • Improved machine productivity
  • Compact, solid design with no wear parts; right or left rotation
  • Easy cleaning/maintenance; unlimited lifespan
  • Reduced tooling costs; fast tool changes

When to use it:

With CNC and other precision machining.

The results:

The annualized savings utilizing Leitz ThermoGrip can be astounding. You will reduce tooling costs by a minimum of 25% and increase machine and operator productivity by at least 20%. ThermoGrip users have noted annualized savings of at least $15,000 per shift, with expanded production capacity. The ThermoGrip system generally pays for itself within months, and the maintenance-free chucks provide virtually unlimited service life.

Add this MVP to your line-up:

Check out our current promotion for the ThermoGrip Tool Holding System. Offer valid now through December 31, 2918.

Download our ThermoGrip PDF.

Contact your local Leitz consultant at (800) 253-6070, or fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch.

Cutting Edge Furniture Making – Haworth & Leitz Tooling Solutions

Haworth’s sustainable manufacturing practices help give the contract furniture giant an edge in the marketplace.

One of the top three U.S.· based contract furniture manufacturers, Haworth Inc. is renown worldwide for its quality office furniture and innovations. Founded in 1948 in Holland, Ml, by G.W. Haworth, it remains a family-owned and privately-held company serving markets in more than 120 countries through a global network of 650 dealers and 6,500 employees. 2014 net sales for the furni­ture giant were $1.8 billion.

Spurring the company’s success is its focus on research and design, which help drive the company’s deep understanding of agile workplace needs, said Haworth spokesperson Ryan McCall.

“Globally, Haworth improves workplac­ es with award-winning furniture, interior architecture, and technology solutions to help customers achieve business goals and transform culture, as well as support collaboration and innovation,” said Mc­ Call. “Haworth is committed to protecting and restoring the environment, creating economic value as well as supporting and strengthening its communities .”

As part of Haworth’s sustainable manu­facturing efforts, the company made changes to the production of its furniture and components. Among the technology upgrades in the panel processing area was the implementation last year of Leitz tooling to the edgebanding line.

“We upgraded our double-sided edge­ bander with the Leitz WhisperCut EdgeEx­ pert milling head program,” said McCall. “We were looking for a sizing tool on the edgebander that would greatly increase finished cut quality and greatly decrease the frequency of tool changes.

“Before developing this tooling program, machine operators were spending an aver­ age of 45 minutes every shift changing carbide insert tooling to maintain a quality cut. When we implemented the Whisper­ Cut EdgeExpert program, the PCD milling heads dramatically decreased the need for tool change frequency,” he said.

Feedback from the lead operator on the double-sided edgebander indicates he is now changing the diamond-tipped knives every six to eight weeks, McCall added.

“Work surface production was specifically targeted with this tooling development. We manufacture over 1,200 rectangular work surfaces per day with standard color offerings or a customer’s own material,” he said.

In addition to the edgebanding pro­cess, a number of machines are integral to the production of Haworth’s wide range of products. Among the workhorses in use at the company’s factories are beam and angular saws for cutting panels and sheet goods to size. Laminating is done in-house, utilizing a hot platen press. CNC routers and machining centers are also used extensively within the production area as the furniture manufacturer continuously looks for ways to improve the productivity and profitability of its products and processes.

The Leitz Tooling program is an integral part of this goal. “The WhisperCut EdgeExpert ROI is well under a year based on labor savings alone,” McCall said. “We have had great success with this tooling program.”

Originally published in FDMC Magazine October 2015. Download the PDF here.