Wiser Machine Investments

May 9, 2023 10:48 am

Customer achieves 25 percent productivity increase with Sandvik Coromant machine investment support.

According to Forbes, 76 percent of manufacturers find prioritizing technology investments difficult. Rapidly evolving technologies, and the growing number of options available, mean that manufacturers can hesitate when buying new machines or overlook key return on investment (ROI) opportunities. However, planning, investment and testing steps can ensure new machine investments yield an optimum ROI.

It’s understandable why manufacturers might hesitate when buying new equipment; the fixed costs and taxes associated with new machinery are high. Yet, through this hesitancy, companies can fail to properly align their machine investments with essential long-term considerations like future customer demands, changing government regulations or achieving a sustainable ROI with new equipment.

For these reasons, manufacturers should seek specialist support with their machine investments in order to achieve the best results. When supporting its own customers with their machine investments, Sandvik Coromant takes the approach of “do it right from the start.” This means that any installation of new equipment — and its eventual use in production — should be preceded by careful planning, investment and testing.


Smoother processes

First, let’s focus on the planning stage. The conventional approach here would be to focus simply on the price of the new machine. Instead, Sandvik Coromant recommends that machine shops consider a few different factors. First, they should assess the cost of the machine and the price of tooling compared with the expected cost-per-part of the planned new machine setup. After all, the goal of any machine shop is to achieve a lower cost-per-part by running faster machining processes that are more productive.

Next, Sandvik Coromant’s specialists recommend performing a full engineering analysis of the customer’s existing setup to identify possible strengths, weaknesses and solutions. That includes assessing the existing parts, processes and applications.

Third, it recommends comparing the various technical solutions available, to identify which is best. Sandvik Coromant will work with a customer’s machine tool builder and cutting tool company to evaluate their current parts, processes and applications. This process includes specifying the right machine for the customer’s production requirements and products, while considering any parts or components the customer might wish to add in the future.

Ultimately, the machine choice should support greater production efficiency. Further considerations — or enhancements — can include using high-pressure coolant, air blasts, chip flushes and chip conveyors, as well as ensuring that the choice of machining center spindle is both powerful and precise.

Finally, Sandvik Coromant recommends getting the right customer-facing team involved early in the process. Winning the buy-in of employees is vital in any scenario, and human management strategies are especially important for getting the most out of new equipment. Harvard Business Review cites the example of an auto assembly plant that established a training center months before its new machinery became operational. Employees were trained to use the new equipment and were given communication skills so they could have weekly problem-solving meetings. Better alignment between humans and new machines equals more productive and profitable manufacturing.


Best practices

To support the customer in this regard, Sandvik Coromant offers project management and specialist training on the best machining practices and latest technologies for secure and profitable machining — even for simple one-off or turnkey projects. Indeed, time spent on preplanning can lead to smoother processes with fewer production interruptions.

In today’s era of digitalization and Industry 4.0, it is easier than ever for manufacturers to plan and test their machine investments. In terms of online resources, Sandvik Coromant recommends its CoroPlus® ToolGuide and CoroPlus Tool Library, plus tool assembler feature, which are both useful in supporting stand-alone machine investments — equipment that is sold directly to the machine shop by machine tool builders or distributors without any tooling package. The CoroPlus ToolGuide and Tool Library can provide tooling recommendations that are best suited to the customer’s choice of machine.

Then there are the tools themselves. Sandvik Coromant’s Capto® tool holder, for instance, supports faster tool changes and easier integration in the machine’s spindle — reducing tool changeover times from up to ten minutes to just one minute, in some cases — for an altogether faster ROI. Meanwhile, Sandvik Coromant’s Silent Tools™ are designed to operate in critical machining operations such as overhang turning and milling. The tools are shown to withstand higher milling speeds and feed rates for longer time periods, with minimized vibrations and without showing signs of wear. For the customer, this makes it possible to produce higher-quality components more quickly.


More competitive

The important role of machine investments in achieving bottom-line benefits was demonstrated when Sandvik Coromant worked with its customer, T-Nax Smart Manufacturing, formerly known as T-Nax Oil & Gas. The customer wanted to boost productivity at its new plant, which opened in Leme, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

T-Nax had been in the process of digitalizing its production facilities since 2019 and already had a business model oriented around connected machinery and Industry 4.0. To complement this, Sandvik Coromant recommended using its CoroPlus Machining Insights software, which analyzes manufacturing data to improve efficiency and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

The software not only collects data on machine downtime and productivity, but it also offers insights for decision-making from the data provided by the solution. Let’s say the customer wishes to commence manufacturing of a specific product. This data can be used to calculate the costs of tools, labor, energy and machine hours, then bring all these together to determine the total estimated cost-per-part.

With these calculations, the customer can spot any necessary cost reductions. For instance, this might entail reducing the cost-per-part by, say, 10 percent to make the product more competitive in the marketplace.


Data management

T-Nax Smart Manufacturing reported an increase of around 25 percent in productivity — equal to 270 hours — within one year of using Sandvik Coromant’s CoroPlus Machining Insights software and machine investment support. Machining Insights monitors the real-time operation and production of some of the unit’s machines, which are connected to the software and have information displayed on a dashboard. The customer also noticed a 15 percent reduction in machine downtime due to maintenance, along with a 20 percent — or 330-hour — reduction in machine utilization analysis time.

Meanwhile, T-Nax Smart Manufacturing is setting up a library to help train its 60 employees. They are interested in learning more about topics related to the digitalization of processes, especially data management on the shop floor. Continued improvements in training and working more closely with machine tool builders and distributors are among the continued enhancements Sandvik Coromant offers with its machine investments services.

Combined, all these elements not only help manufacturers achieve short-term benefits through their machine investments, as reported by Forbes, but also maximize their ROI well into the future.

For more information on Sandvik Coromant’s machine investment services, visit: www.sandvik.coromant.com/en-us/services/engineering/machine-investment-support

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