Gaining over 90% Spindle Uptime on VMC with MIDACO Automatic Pallet Changer

Darren Grainger of Hi-Spec Precision Engineering Ltd and Grainger Guitars in the UK speaks with Swarf and Chips about his company's growth with implementing automation solutions.

"Cycle time is just under 45 minutes due to the efficiency of this set up {MIDACO Automatic Pallet Changer on HURCO VM5i}. This job in particular is running in cycle for 9 hours 15 minutes of our 9 1/2 hour shift, which is 98.5% efficient for the available time. Got to admit, we are more than impressed with this setup."

Man wearing a dark machine shop jumpsuit uniform standing next to grey color Midaco pallet changer shuttle system with blue M logo showing one 22"x16" aluminum pallet on the shuttle system. HURCO logo on machining center in background

Tell us about your process - This is our MIDACO Pallet Changer. It’s their smallest {Automatic Pallet Changer} model, I believe. It’s bolted onto the side of our HURCO VM5i. We have 2 platens {pallets} within the pallet changer. Each platen {pallet} has 3 vises on. One will be in the machine working; when that’s done it will be pulled out and the other one will automatically go in. So we can load the vises, load the pallets whilst the machine is running keeping spindles turning. On this one in particular we’ve had upwards of 90% {spindle utilization}. I can pick certain jobs where we’ve had 96-97% spindle uptime within our shift. So it’s doing a fantastic job.

Embracing automation to ensure we are ready for the future. 

All the growth we’ve had over the last 2 years will be due to automation. There’s plenty of work out there if you can keep up with doing it and service the customers. The only way to service those customers and take that work on is by automation. If you look at the turnover 3 years ago against the amount of employees, against now per employee, the output has roughly doubled.

Why did you choose this one over others? -There wasn’t a great deal available, or at least I found at the time. The MIDACO name is certainly one that’s got some good heritage with it. It’s a quality product and it fit the bill, particularly regarding size because we needed a small changer to go on our small machine.

Added investments? - Particularly, workholding. In this instance we’ve got a platen {pallet}, we’ll make to most of that. So we’ve gone for three 3 dual station vices to take up as much room on that platen {pallet} and to get as many parts to the spindle at a time. Every little bit helps.

MIDACO Pallet System = CNC Automation = Efficiency = Productivity

Any machine or machine accessory manufacturer will tell you the increases in efficiency and productivity their equipment will bring to your company. It was no different with our MIDACO pallet changer and I expected that we’d see a decent improvement; however, by utilizing multiple 5th Axis Workholding vices along with the MIDACO pallet changer we’re experiencing some extremely impressive run time efficiencies.

Running in cycle for 9.25 hours of our 9.5 hour shift... which is 98.5% efficient

We're running more guitar hardware parts on our Hurco VM5i fitted with the MIDACO pallet changer. We’ve used three 5th Axis DV510 deuce vices per pallet, each vice contains eight parts, one operation per vice. Cycle time is just under 45 minutes due to the efficiency of this set up. 
This job in particular is running in cycle for 9 hours 15 minutes of our 9 1/2 hour shift, which is 98.5% efficient for the available time. Got to admit, we are more than impressed with this setup.

Video and image credits:
Hi-Spec Precision Engineering Ltd
Grainger Guitars
Swarf and Chips

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