The Challenge

Enabling efficient lights-out manufacturing

A company that grinds carbon cutting tools invested in multiple robot-loaded CNC machines to enable lights-out manufacturing.

However, it was not a smooth implementation – evenings and weekends were meant to provide extra robot-loaded capacity, but each Monday morning they would come into a pile of scrapped parts.

Tracking down the root problem was almost impossible.

Lights-out machining was stopped, production was restricted to manned hours during the day shift, and the ROI of that robot-loaded equipment failed to appear.


The Solution

Plug & play machine monitoring turned the ‘lights-on’

To resolve the issue, the customer signed up to FourJaw Lite for installation on the problematic robot-loaded grinding machines.

Looking at the grinding machine’s raw data from the timeline page of the FourJaw platform, they could view the exact operation of the machines, even on weekends when no one was in the factory.

Looking at the FourJaw raw data traces, they noticed that the failure always happened on the third operation – the first two operations were running quite happily on the robot-loaded CNCs.

With this knowledge, the production manager devised a plan – the first two operations could be done lights-out on evenings and weekends using the robot loaded CNCs, whilst the challenging third operation would be completed by skilled machinists during the day shift.


The Results


It was the perfect combination – machine productivity jumped through the roof, going from 3-4 lights-out parts produced to more than 80 parts being machined lights-out during evenings and weekends. They even increased the feed rate on the robot-loaded CNCs from 60 mm/min to 300 mm/min, slashing the production time for Op1 and Op2 to 20% of the original duration.

The machinists were also much happier as they got to work on the challenging third operation that fully utilised their skillsets, rather than babysitting the first two ops throughout the day shift.

With ‘lights-out manufacturing; increased capacity, reduced cycle times and happier shop floor staff were all achieved, so it was a big win for the customer and the FourJaw machine monitoring platform.

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