CNC machine shop Swiss Productions, Inc. has been precision machining in the medical, electronics, aerospace and other industries for 38 years and counting and is continually looking for ways to innovate and grow. Already producing over two million parts per month in a 40-hour work week, how could it maximize machine time and employee productivity to produce even more? The answer was implementing two Productive Robotics’ OB7 collaborative robots.
Swiss Productions has over 50 screw machines and 30 secondary machines and produces components ranging in size from 2.5 inches in diameter down to syringe tips measuring 0.019 inches in diameter. Meeting the demands of its customers nationally and internationally while also maintaining the utmost quality requires constant innovation, forward thinking, and finding creative solutions to challenges.
Swiss Productions faced a production issue on its CNC machines. Although it had the skilled operators to handle the machining, they were not maximizing their spindle time. One of the biggest challenges was keeping the Hass Mill machine running consistently.
“The machine would only get 9 hours of production a day, and an employee would sit on the machine loading and unloading every 7-8 minutes, and take one hour worth of breaks a day,” explained Swiss Productions General Manager Timo Lunceford.
Employee productivity was another priority for Swiss. “Our operators would stand for 10 minutes, wait for the part to finish and then reload it. We were losing precious time that could be used more efficiently.”
Production could be interrupted if the machine operator lost focus while attending to other tasks.
Swiss needed a way to keep its machines running 24 hours a day, generating more products while lights were out.
To find the answer to non-stop production, Swiss Productions investigated various collaborative robots on the market. They discovered Productive Robotics, and were immediately drawn to OB7. Swiss was attracted to OB7 in particular because of its seven axes, which would provide the extra flexibility for handling their CNC machines.
Case Study at a Glance
|Company: Swiss Productions|
|Location: Ventura, California|
|Challenge: maximizing machine output and employee productivity|
|Partner: Productive Robotics|
|Robot: OB7 cobot|
|Task: machine tending|
|Results: increased production time by 32 hours a week|
“When we discovered OB7, we knew the 7th axis for us is key. We are going in, grabbing the parts, moving sideways with them, and then blowing out the collets that we are using to hold our parts,” states Lunceford. “We need a quick turn radius because we also have to teach it to close the door and then double check that the door is closed, and then be able to pivot to press the start button, which is a complete 180° from where it was.”
Integrating OB7 with the Haas Mill was accomplished entirely by Swiss employees, no outsourcing needed. In a few days, OB7 was up and running.
“The employee that would normally sit at the machine before OB7 is now able to run two of our smaller lathes at the same time. Previously, the cycle time wouldn’t allow for that between all three machines,” noted Lunceford.
Quickly working “lights out,” Swiss gained an extra 32 hours per week of machine running time on top of the normal 40 hours. In addition, it gained back the hours lost during breaks, bringing the total weekly production time up to 76 hours.
OB7 was driving higher output while also saving Swiss thousands of dollars monthly.
Integrating OB7 into its machine shop has allowed Swiss to gain a competitive advantage by increasing its production and enhancing the team’s productivity. The success with OB7 was so valuable that Swiss Productions implemented a second OB7 to operate one of their other CNC mills.
“We have not let go of any employees and our production has increased. We have big plans for OB7, not just on our mills but on our lathes we are producing parts as well,” Lunceford shared.