Starting With Its Worst Case

Toshiba America Energy Systems ramps up mill-turn productivity at its Milwaukee Service Center

In 2011, the Milwaukee Service Center for Toshiba America Energy Systems began looking at high-end mill-turn systems to replace its conventional equipment. It selected one of its toughest parts, an intricate multi-hole bypass valve, as a benchmark against which it could measure machining productivity improvements. Senior programmer, Orvie Smith said, “We were using many different machines to make this part. If you factor in such things as stellite hardfacing and nitriding, it was taking us five weeks to get this one part out the door. Actual time on machine amounted to about 80 hours.”

The Service Center purchased an Okuma Multus 5-axis mill-turn system. Orvie said he was unaccustomed to it at first; however, using a post meticulously developed by ShopWare, his Mastercam reseller, in conjunction with In-House Solutions, and program modules written and simulated in the latest version of Mastercam®, the machine time was reduced to approximately 16 hours and the lead-time for machining the part itself was trimmed to a day. With these types of improvements, it became Orvie’s favorite machine.

Orvie said that these results are typical of the magnitude of productivity improvements and cost factor reductions the shop has seen as they transition appropriate parts over to mill-turn manufacturing processes. Optimizing these and other processes continues to be a work in progress as Orvie learns to apply new features that appear in each release of Mastercam.

During the past five years the TAES CNC shop has transitioned from a dozen conventional mills and lathes and one mill-turn, to six mills and seven advanced mill-turns with more on the way. Based on the increasingly higher numbers of programs he is writing, Orvie estimates that his company’s investment in advanced CNC equipment has more than doubled its production capacity even though the number of machines has stayed about the same. Continuously improving features of Mastercam have enabled him to keep up with this ever-expanding volume of work.