Blog 2020

October 2020

Save Money, Save Time, Save (your) Sanity!

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you work in manufacturing. And if you work in manufacturing, you know that things can change rapidly. And when things change rapidly, manufacturers must adjust.

The problem with the above paragraph is the severe time constraints present in most manufacturing operations. When you can’t find the time to make adjustments or improvements, you lose your sanity. When your sanity is impacted, decisions become more difficult. Consequently, the inability to be autonomous can cost you money.
Which brings us to the point of this all – what small thing (change) can you make within your business, to improve your time, finances, and sanity?

We have many different continuous improvement ideas to share with you. However, let’s just talk about supplies today. Do you see yourself frequently ordering the same things only to find out you already had something? Does your tool crib manager frequently expedite tooling? Is your office personnel or secretary running to the store to get supplies during work hours? Are you going to the store after hours because you ran out of something that’s needed tomorrow?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, or if it’s even close – we have to ask if you utilize Kanban systems? If you’re not familiar with it, Kanban is essentially a lean method to manage and improve work across human systems. In short, it’s the Japanese term for “card you can see”.

Kanban has been around for quite some time because it’s a proven method for manufacturing companies that want to do things better today than they did yesterday.

It’s the new age, it’s visual, it’s now, it’s AUTOMATED. (btw, if you want to know about machining automation, we at Lang Technovation know A LOT about what it takes to be successful in that realm!)
Let me give you an example, in pictures:


     


You have supplies – maybe it’s cardboard, paper towel, cleaning supplies, or even pens and pencils in the office. Any of the above can have a Kanban card system implemented. For this example, we’ll use cleaning supplies. And in its simplest form - it’s EASY to start.

1. Compile a list of frequently used items
2. Buy 2 of each item
3. Create a card, and attach it to the 2nd item
4. Once the 1st item is used, and the 2nd item is grabbed, the card gets dropped off in a mailbox.
5. Item is re-ordered

There’s no wondering if you have enough. There’s no over-ordering. There’s no rushing to get more because it’s gone. And you know what, you don’t have to order it just because you got the card. A cleaning agent can last a month, if not longer. So, there’s no rush and ideally you receive 2, 3, or even 4 cards before you have to order in bulk.

It’s simple. One person is in charge of ordering. All members are trained on the process. To make things even easier, you can write the instructions directly on the card. Include who to buy it from and in what quantity should be bought.

It gets better. Continuous improvement allows for deeper detail and more efficiency. Our advice is to start small (above) and improve, improve, improve!

When you really want to get down to business, there’s the color-coded one and two bin Kanban system here: (perfect for a tool room or everyday office supplies!)




This folks -- will save you time, money and your sanity.

Stay tuned for more lean tips to an efficient operation.

Sean Van Derel
Operations Coordinator
LANG Technovation


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August 2020


Being a resource

We have been purposely quiet during the pandemic and as so many of you also have felt the impact. Our staff has been using this time to update information, deepen our skill sets with training and find ways to be more efficient with the resources we have for continuous improvement.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to listen if you are talking. For this reason, we have been reaching out, visiting facilities when possible, hearing your concerns in person and on social media about the current and future state of manufacturing during an unprecedented global pandemic.

We have always tried to be an industry resource first, and everything else second. That won’t change. All the way back to March 2017: Your Workholding Isn’t Mutually Exclusive (our second blog ever) – we stated that we didn’t know of any (workholding) system that is a “one-stop-shop”. Those words could certainly apply to more than workholding. Beyond the scope of just workholding, this can be something to keep in mind for every situation.

It will take everyone to work together to rebound. This applies not only to manufacturing but also numerous facets of our private lives. What the new normal looks like will be determined when the pandemic ebbs and we can see which of the changes that were necessarily made should be implemented for good and which were just temporary to make things work.

We aim to continue to be a resource and do our part to help increase your profit and help weather these uncertain times. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to let us know how you’re doing.

Kerstin Pynakker
General Manager
Lang Technovation
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June 2020


Let’s Get Technical: Clean Tec Chip Fans

The Clean Tec Chip Fan is one of our most popular products. Designed to automatically remove chips and coolant from the workpiece, fixture, machine table, pallet, etc. it is the easiest process in your machine shop to automate and has an incredibly fast return on investment. We field a lot of the same/similar technical questions frequently.

Here are some of those questions…and answers!

How fast should I spin this? There are three different Clean Tec sizes and each one has its own operating range for RPM. This information can be found in the product instructions that accompany the Clean Tec Chip Fan, in the Lang Technovation product catalog, on our website and conveniently printed on the fan blade itself.

Most importantly you should pay attention to the starting RPM. All Clean Tec Fans should be started at approximately 2000 RPM regardless of size. From the starting RPM they should build up to the operating RPM.

Ensuring you are following the guidelines for startup RPM will help achieve maximum blade life.

Helpful Hint: For most cleaning applications, the Clean Tec already works efficiently at 4000 RPM

But the minimum RPM on my machine tool is over 2000, what should I do? The main point of using a lower start up RPM is to prevent the blades from aggressively “snapping” into operating position, causing premature wear and jeopardizing the integrity of the blade.

If you have a machine tool with a spindle that does not operate as low as 2000 RPM, we suggest you start the Clean Tec at the lowest available RPM.

How fast should I feed this? Feed rate can be found in the product instructions that accompany your Clean Tec Chip Fan and also in the Lang Technovation product catalog. The fan should be fed between 150-400 inches per minute (3-10 m/min).

Helpful Hint: Feed, rapid or “Z-UP” to ensure the Clean Tec is safely away from the fixture or workpiece before stopping the spindle. If you stop the spindle and the fan blades close-over or collide with the fixture or workpiece they will probably break.

How high above the workpiece or fixture should the Clean Tec operate? Operating height can be found in the product instructions that accompany your Clean Tec Chip Fan and also in the Lang Technovation product catalog. For best performance, clean 4 to 6” (100 to 150mm) above the surface.

I have a (insert make & model of your machine tool) what size Clean Tec do I need? Actually, the machine tool is irrelevant. You should select the appropriate fan size based on what type of cleaning operation you are doing.

  • The smaller size (160mm) is best for detailed cleaning, where a powerful and direct “wind tunnel” is desired.
  • The larger fan (330mm) is best for large areas, like machine tool tables, where you desire to cover a large amount of square footage in the least number of passes.
  • The mid-size fan (260mm) will do a respectable job on either task. If you are unsure, or want something more versatile you should select this fan size.

Once you have decided what size fan, you simply have to select between inch or metric shank/arbor diameter (i.e. do you have or prefer inch vs. metric tool holders?).

I have a horizontal tool changer, will the Clean Tec work? Absolutely! We are compatible with all automatic tool changer orientations.

Helpful Hint: Horizontal tool changers can give you a warning on when it may be time to replace the Clean Tec springs. As the tool sits horizontally in the tool changer, check and see if the blades are held tightly in position or if they have begun to “sag” or “hang”. If you notice the blade hanging, it may be time to replace the springs.

Are all versions of the Clean Tec Chip Fan compatible with through the spindle coolant? Absolutely! This is a standard feature on all Lang Clean Tec Chip Fans! If you have a question that isn’t covered here or would like more information, please feel free to contact us!

Eric J. Nekich
Technology & Sales
Lang Technovation Co.



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April 2020


Decide Who You Want To Pay


Periodically, my wife and I have had to review our health insurance needs. This always involves trying to find a balance between copay, deductible and premium. It is an essential part of our family's infrastructure, so we have always felt fortunate to have the services of our professional advisors, Pat and Brian.

Although Pat and Brian work for separate companies, they have both provided us with a great piece of advice to apply when selecting our health insurance plan. You have to decide who you want to pay. Essentially, through copays, premiums, cash discounts, HSA contributions, etc. you have to pay someone. The doctor, the health insurance company, or yourself. This simple bit of professional advice has helped us select health insurance plans on numerous occasions.

It recently occurred to me that the same sound logic could and should apply to selecting automation systems. When choosing an automation system, you need to decide who you want to pay.

You can either pay the operator, the automation system itself, or yourself.

Pay the operator: This subject tends to spark a response in people. There is a fear that automation will soon put us all out of work. This isn't true. Your employees are extremely valuable, and just like everything else in your business, they should make you more profitable and competitive.

You have to decide what you want to pay your operators to do. Why tie your valuable workforce to menial tasks like machine tool tending when they can be applying their skill set somewhere more valuable?

Pay the system: This involves selecting a system that requires continuous interaction on your part. Examples include having to re-teach robots, having to continually adjust workpiece grids or tooling, adjusting for insufficient workholding, etc. Are you prepared for that much additional labor?

When automation systems fail, it is usually due to one of two reasons: poor integration or poor workholding and tooling.

Poorly integrated systems usually have a very appealing introductory price. If you aren’t careful, these initial cost savings will hurt your long-term interests.

Instead of focusing on "sticker price," make sure you have a complete return on investment (ROI) report prepared for you. We offer them for free. It is very common for a higher-priced, higher-quality system to pay you back faster than a budget system.

My job takes me inside a lot of manufacturing facilities, and I often see inexpensive automation systems not running. If it isn’t running, you are paying it.

Just because your new robot can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week doesn’t mean that your workholding and tooling are up to the task.

Make sure you have a realistic budget for whichever system you invest in. You will always get what you pay for. If your tooling wears prematurely, your workholding doesn’t repeat or properly secure the part you will have an expensive and catastrophic failure when running lights out.

Pay yourself: Make sure your investment in machine tool automation pays you by taking these simple steps.

Insist that the company quoting the system gives you an actual date when you will have full ROI.

Please make sure the quote is detailed and outlines the automated process, step by step, to ensure you have a firm understanding of when and how your employees will need to interact with it.

Ensure that any employee interaction is limited and straightforward.

Unless you are considering mass production, systems that can offer capacity, covering a wide range of different sized and shaped parts, should always be considered over dedicated systems.

Once you have decided whom it is that you want to pay, selecting the right automation system is easy.

Eric Nekich
Lang Technovation Co
1020 James Dr. STE I
Hartland, WI 53029

  

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January 2020


Measure Your Workholding!

More than likely, you use a number of performance metrics throughout your facility. These metrics may measure sales, inventory, gross margin, spindle up time, quality, etc. etc. etc. Are you measuring the performance of your fixtures and workholding?

As mentioned in previous blogs, there are a number of methods that may suffice. Simple time studies that measure old set up time vs. new set up time. Rolled throughput yield will show you how many workpieces go in to a process vs. how many good finished parts come out. I believe you should be using Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to measure your workholding.

Just looking at the loss factors involved with OEE should convince you. When taken in context, I believe they speak to the fundamental purposes as to why you would look to improve your workholding. The three loss factors used to calculate OEE are:

Availability: Availability deals with all events that have interrupted or stopped planned production. Examples could include but certainly are not limited to missing components or incomplete systems to catastrophic fixture failure or “throwing parts”. In addition, workholding that doesn’t repeat well will always cause a stoppage.

Performance: Performance takes into consideration anything that causes production to slow down or not run at full speed. A great example is adjusting manufacturing speeds and feeds or depth of cut because you lack confidence in your workholding.

Quality: Quality looks at any manufactured parts that don’t meet yours or your customers quality standards. Poor surface finish, out of tolerance, too much vibration, the list of quality related workholding failure is a long one.

Once you have identified your loss of productivity, you will simply need to formulate them;

Availability = Actual Run Time/Planned Production Time

Performance = (Ideal Production Time X Total Pieces)/Actual Run Time

Quality = Good Parts/Total Workpieces

Once you have these metrics, simply multiply them together;

Availability X Performance X Quality = OEE

Now that you know your OEE, you will not only be able to measure the performance of your fixtures and workholding, but also be able to determine where you are losing the most productivity or which area of concern you should look at first when improving your workholding.

Measuring the performance of your fixtures and workholding will ensure that these systems contribute to your overall efficiency and profitability. Remember the old saying, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Eric J. Nekich
Lang Technovation Co.
Operations, Technology & Inside Sales.
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