Trend Talks: Cost Savings

A good company is always looking for ways to save itself money, but a great company looks for ways to pass those savings on to its customers.

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For many customers, saving money isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity. So when companies can offer options that can cut costs as a result, that translates into a service that will keep customers happy. And happy customers mean repeat customers.

But cost savings aren’t necessarily defined as discounts. Savings often can be found in a myriad of options. And those options eventually and ultimately can mean good things to a customer’s bottom line.

Marposs S.P.A. — a leader in precision equipment for measurement and control in the production environment — supplies precision gauging equipment to industries all over the world. Its customers include machine-tool manufacturers, the automotive industry and its subcontractors, and aerospace companies. It is committed to offering top-quality products that can help customers cut costs.

Unlike processes where absolute information such as tool breakage or missing tool is sufficient, gear hobbing requires continuous monitoring, which ensures tool wear is held strictly within specified tolerances.

Marposs has developed a new feature for its Artis machine monitoring system to optimize the gear-hobbing process. It uses the milling spindle torque measurement to obtain information about the condition of the tool. The torque curve for a known good tool is “taught” once, and then compared with the actual machining process.

The result is displayed as a curve with the area below the curve representing the acceptable value for the operation.

Tool breakage will show up as an anomalous “spike” in signal intensity. Normal wear can be tracked as well and displayed for the operator. By setting experience-based limits on the tool’s “signature,” it is possible to reliably predict the remaining life of the tool. This reduces downtime and allows maintenance and re-sharpening to be done based on actual tool condition rather than on a time- or part-based schedule.

“Tool-cost savings can add up to five-figure sums within a few months,” said Jorge Pena, Marposs Machine Monitoring Solutions product manager.

The Artis system has been installed in many high-production gear-manufacturing applications worldwide, according to Pena. Increased hob life of 40 percent to 60 percent is possible in many cases. The system also is able to optimize cycle time by monitoring the load during the cut and maintaining the highest practical metal removal rates compatible with machine capabilities and the life of the tool.

Another example of how customers can save on costly manufacturing errors is by using gear inspection machines, such as United Tool’s Unite-A-Matic™. United Tool Supply, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been manufacturing the Unite-A-Matic, a series of flexible gear inspection gauges for the global market, for more than 30 years.

“We are able to help our customers cut costs on the front end and increase profit and productivity on the back end,” said Curtis Criswell, head of Business Development. “The Unite-A-Matic is the most cost-effective gauging solution at a fraction of the cost of a CMM. Being a family-owned business, we know how important every dollar is. Our competitive price point makes our product affordable for small and large companies alike.”

With the Unite-A-Matic, basic operator training is all that’s needed.

“In most cases, our gauge can be set up within a few minutes and takes only seconds to gauge a part,” Criswell said. “Ease of use, combined with the efficiency of our Unite-A-Matic, gives our customers the ability to check parts at a higher frequency while maintaining a robust production schedule and an increase in gauging confidence.” Manufacturing errors are discovered much quicker with more part checks. This means less scrap parts, which leads to higher profit and productivity while keeping a high level of productivity intact.

United Tool Supply continues to offer OD & ID gear inspection gauges fitting requirements up to 400 mm, with custom builds available, while expanding their footprint with additional products and improved global support.

New England Gear is another company that helps its customers save money by offering remanufactured machines as an option to purchasing a new machine. According to the company’s president, Jeff Barnes, the remanufactured machines from New England Gear provide the same quality standards as a new one. On top of cost savings, customers can get a remanufactured machine a lot quicker than a new one as well.

“A New England Gear remanufactured machine is 60 percent the cost of a new machine, and deliveries are 12 weeks instead of eight months,” Barnes said.

To further help its customers save costs, New England Gear offers remanufactured Fellows machines with special options that allow a smaller machine to cut a larger part. For example, New England Gear’s Fellows 10-4 with a throated riser will allow a customer to cut a part with a 13-inch pitch diameter while also having the ability to swing a 35-inch-diameter flange. With this remanufactured machine option, the customer can use a smaller, less expensive Fellows 10-4 machine to do the cutting of a larger Fellows 20-4 —without the 20-4 price tag.

Another option for both the Fellows 10-4 and the 20-4 is the swing away center support. This option will allow the customer to cut parts on centers and then immediately switch over to cut internal gears just by swinging the center support out of the way.

“The savings is in the changeover time, which is minimal —less than two minutes,” Barnes said.

Just from these three examples, it’s easy to see that companies can help their customers with cost-saving measures in a variety of ways. And many times those costs savings are born from time savings.

The old adage, “Time is money,” may be a cliché, but in the gear industry, it can also a truism.