Bandsaw Helps Cut Operators A Bigger Slice Of The Profit Pie
More than 90% of all jobs going through the shop start at the handsaw, making it the critical first step in the production process and the best candidate for "lights out" operation.
In 1976, Dave Carter started DaCo Precision Manufacturers with a used handsaw, a manual engine lathe, and a mill in his home garage. Carter's small company grew using the manual handsaw and his other machines; and, in 1979 he moved DaCo into its own 2,000 sq.ft. building. One thing that Carter demanded from his sawing operation was to run unattended, so he started searching the market for an automated saw. Although the new bandsaw that he installed had some limited automatic features, which was an improvement over his original manual machine, it still could not handle his workload. During this time, Carter had become acquainted with Smith Machinery Co., a local machine tool distributor. Smith Machinery advised him to install a fully automated bandsaw, the ArmstrongBlum Spartan Series PA13/2, along with several Mazak CNC lathes and mills, to help his operation. With DaCo' s investment in automation, the company's business continued to grow. As a result, Carter was able to move to a larger, 8,800 sq.ft. building in 1991. Soon after, DaCo outgrew that building as well. Today, a visitor to DaCo's 12,300 sq.ft. facility near Salt Lake City, UT will find an impressive operation with an array of hightech equipment, including: the Spartan automatic bandsaw, five Mazak CNC turning centers, four Mazak CNC machining centers, and two Tree J425 CNC mills. Carter is a firm believer in staying in touch with the latest in major technological advancements. By doing so, he has been able to keep DaCo on the cutting edge. "We have always purchased top of the line production equipment, like the Spartan automatic bandsaw, the Mazak CNC machining centers, and the CMM (coordinate measuring machine) inspection equipment," Carter explains. Throughout the shop it becomes apparent that, in addition to his hightech approach to production, he applies the same concept to the shop's inspection and quality assurance equipment. "An important part of doing each job correctly is making sure it meets all of the customers' specifications," Carter observes. "We have incorporated Zeiss' CMM, Smart Scope visual inspection equipment, and a 3D laser scanner/digitizer into our quality program. We adhere to ISO 9002 standards to ensure we meet our quality objectives."
What Has 972 Teeth and Cuts Like Crazy?
A bandsaw played a big part in DaCo's beginning, and their Spartan PA13/2 plays an even bigger part today. One job recently run on the Spartan involved cutting titanium. This tough, expensive material had to be cut into 1.5" diameter blanks, with 4,820 pieces needed for the entire project. On this job the bandsaw averaged 40 blanks per hour while holding ±0.001" on length and squareness. The Armstrong Blum Spartan PA13/2 comes equipped with several safety devices, backup equipment, and automated features. Among these is a motion detector that shuts off the machine automatically in the event of a broken or stalled blade. This important safety feature protects the operator from injury and the machine from damage. An "out of stock" switch shuts off the saw automatically when the shuttle runs out of material to feed. These and other features have encouraged manufacturing manager Randy Chapell and his team saw operator, Luis Herrera, to feel comfortable about running the saw unattended throughout the day and during "lights out" operations.
Carter sees the bandsaw's abilities as an advantage to the company in helping to motivate employees and boost morale. To reward DaCo's team, he instituted a "share the profit program" that emphasized automating operations and reducing scrap rates. Twice a year management adds up the value of the hours for all unmanned operations, then subtracts the value of monthly scrap exceeding 3%. The total dollar difference is then distributed among the members of the DaCo team. This extra motivation ensures that all equipment is fully utilized, while encouraging each employee to take part in reducing scrap; and the Spartan handsaw plays a central role in making the program work. DaCo continues to grow for the future by satisfying current and prospective customers. Each customer has a unique partnership with Dave and his management team. Most customers consider DaCo to be an extension of their own company. This close relationship helps DaCo' s customers to schedule their production more effectively, ultimately improving their bottom line. Carter and the DaCo team bring a combined manufacturing experience of more than 180 years to each of their customers' jobs. Working closely with each customer's requirements, and anticipating their future needs, gives DaCo and its customers a significant competitive edge. After 23 years in the manufacturing business, DaCo has learned how to tackle materials such as tungsten (HD17), nickel 270, and nickel based alloys, as well as medical grade titanium, stainless steel, and other exotic materials, with fully integrated, automated, precision processing.
Reprinted from MAN-Modern Applications News, April 1999
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