Case Study: Erwin Junker Machinery and Komet of America Inc.

August 12, 2016

When KOMET of America Inc. sought to produce multi-step tools more efficiently, investing in the Lean Selection Allround machine from JUNKER brought a cost-effective upgrade in technology together with dramatically decreased setup times.


In order to stay competitive in their industries, manufacturers must always be on the lookout for new ways to provide value while keeping cost at a minimum. Nobody knows this better than David Zurowski, Komet’s Dihart® carbide group leader, who understands the importance of finding the most optimal cost-effective solution for his customers. With this in mind, Komet, the successful whole-line tool supplier from Schaumburg, Illinois, has continued to hold tight to the company’s core values of being ambitious, attractive, creative, exemplary, and supportive — constantly searching for ways to improve.

Having only one simple setup to grind each part complete has significantly increased Komet’s productivity

Established in 1918, The Komet Group is a global technology leader and a full-line supplier of drilling, boring, reaming, threading, and milling tools. With a total workforce of 1,600, the privately held company manufactures reamers, cutting rings, and rapid set heads with carbine and cermet blades. The focus of the company is on solution-oriented development, manufacture and sale of machining tools, and future-oriented services. Led by its president and CEO Jan Pflugfelder, Komet of America and its 140 employees are dedicated to the design and manufacturing of special indexable tools, PCD tools, and reamers.

The Challenge

With a growing demand for complex tools, Komet of America was facing the challenge of manufacturing at higher production rates without sacrificing quality. It was determined that the existing grinders could no longer keep up, and a new solution would be essential to produce multi-step tools effectively. The major bottleneck in production was for tools with a flat diameter and a backtaper, as the existing grinders required an extra setup to adjust the table to match the angle. Paramount in the search was to remove this extra setup, grind the tools in one clamping, and simplify the process for operators. Further complicating the search was Komet of America’s need for a short machine delivery time and need for a machine that could handle a diamond grinding wheel.

Junker JUWOP/LS graphical and conversational programming page

The Solution

To meet the necessary requirements, Komet of America searched for a CNC grinding machine with a freely programmable B-axis that could accurately and efficiently grind its parts while offering flexibility.  Despite the various options available to the tool supplier, one grinding machine stood out among the rest. Junker’s Lean Selection Allround universal cylindrical grinding machine offered a B-axis with a resolution of 0.0001° — rigid and capable of grinding all tapers that Komet needs to manufacture. Along with the crucial B-axis, the Lean Selection Allround machine’s flexibility set Junker apart from the competition.

“One of the options that we selected was a choice of a two spindle wheel,” Zurowski said. “We believe that we will have fewer limitations having one wheel per side and more clearance for our complex tools.”  

In addition to the technological benefits of the Junker Lean Selection Allround, the machine came with a short delivery time and appealing price point.

(Pictured left to right) David Zurowski, Komet’s Dihart carbide group leader; Jan Pflugfelder, president/CEO of Komet of America; and Kevin Padden, regional sales manager at Erwin Junker Machinery Inc. They are standing in front of the Junker Lean Selection Allround.

Along with the proper mechanical features, Komet sought a custom-designed grinding program in order to reduce the amount of “air grinding.” The carbide inserts ground on each reamer are set at common intervals along the diameter, meaning an interrupted grinding surface. After several discussions about the problem, Junker offered the solution of using its gap detection acoustic sensor to control the workhead speed. Now, when the grinding spindle detects air grinding, the workhead rotates quickly until detecting the next carbide insert. At each insert, the workhead slows to the grind setting, ensuring top quality, and then speeds up again when finished grinding the insert to the air setting, ensuring the best cycle time.

In April 2015, the Junker Lean Selection Allround arrived at Komet of America and was up and running shortly thereafter. With machine operation in full swing, Komet immediately noticed significant time savings in its production times.

“Setting back the taper with the B-axis has been easier, hassle-free, and faster for operators,” Zurowski said. “In setup, we save around 30-35 minutes.”  

The Junker Lean Selection Allround’s economical and flexible design not only provides significant savings in setup time, but it also cuts down Komet’s running time by 5-10 minutes per part. The freely programmable B-axis allows the operator to grind continuously without having to change out the grinding wheel.

Junker’s customized gap detection software was developed to grind Dihart reamers (shown here in the rough state)

Despite the improved run time and setup time, a final inefficiency was detected after installation. Komet’s high mix of parts requires frequent wheel changeovers, which cause long changeover times and can cause quality issues if the new wheels are not properly mounted. As a solution, Komet will be implementing Junker’s patented three-point grinding wheel mounting system that reduces wheel changeover times to an absolute minimum and guarantees a wheel concentricity of under 2 µm. When the system is installed, Komet expects a further reduction in setup times, improved grinding times, and even better part quality.

Conclusion

Not only has the Junker Lean Selection Allround provided Komet with greater efficiency in its setup and run time, but it has also been able to produce the same high-quality product that Komet expects from its machines.

“From our experience in grinding reamers and the way we set up and run Junker, our finished product is the same quality despite a reduction in production time, which is what we were looking for,” Zurowski said.

The tool supplier is able to use the same grinding wheels as before but with a simpler setup, faster changeover, better grind time, and improved operator experience. The machine comes standard with the JUWOP/LS programming system that allows the user to program the machine quickly and efficiently.  Due to graphically supported data entry and to-scale representation on the screen, programming is easy and requires little or no training.

Today, Komet of America produces high-quality reamers with greater efficiency and at highly competitive costs for a quality/value proposition. Improved productivity and sustained accuracy allow the tool supplier to provide its customers with the best product possible and cement its position as an industry leader in drilling, boring, reaming, threading, and milling tools. The economical and flexible Junker Lean Selection Allround allows the tool supplier the freedom to manufacture a wide range of parts with high quality and precision as it aggressively seeks to expand its markets and provide new applications to its customers.