Most people think CNC automation only applies to high-volume production. It’s great for high-volume, that’s for sure. But if you’re running low-volume production of a family of parts, CNC automation can work wonders for your productivity too.
CNC automation for low-volume parts IS possible. But you should address these key elements in your system to make it work best:
- Agile Workholding: It’s key to have agile workholding. If the workholding doesn’t fit with your whole family of parts, make sure you have a quick-change chuck or a collet system that allows you to go from one part to another quickly. This means you won’t have to spend a lot of time in changeover and set up, which kills that productivity you’re going for.
- Vision Systems: Add vision systems that allow you to identify which part you’re loading into the CNC machine, so the right program is pulled up automatically. Then, when that part is loaded into your workholding, you’re ready to make the part immediately.
This video by Okuma explains further.
by Jeff Estes, Okuma.com, 9/12/14