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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Walter Helitronic Power tool grinder
Walter Helitronic Power tool grinder
Keywords: Aircraft components, Manufacturing systems
A Walter Helitronic Power CMC tool grinder is at the heart of far-reaching changes in the way Marshall Aerospace's Manufacturing Support Division supplies tooling to the company's extensive onsite production and manufacturing operations (Plate 1).
Plate 1 The Walter Helitronic Power is at the heart of Marshall Aerospace Manufacturing Support Division's transformation of its tooling supply activities
The investment in the five-axis machine – the Division's first CNC tool grinder – has reportedly been justified as being the core technology through its ability to enable the introduction of:
standardised metric diameters and lengths for the complete manufacturing site to replace a myriad of tool types, styles and sizes;
small batch stock holding, to enable the Division to move away from grind-on-demand and towards supply-on-demand within drastically reduced lead times; and
significant reductions in the amount and variety of tooling traditionally purchased as consignment stock from a variety of suppliers.
With 75 employees having a vast range of support skills embracing, for example, manufacturing engineering, programming, heat and protective treatment, as well as calibration and inspection, the Division supports a wide variety of manufacturing disciplines on Marshall Aerospace's sprawling site at Cambridge Airport – primarily metal machining/working but also plastics, assemblies and woodworking.
In focusing on the cutter service, manufacturing support manager Kevin has made sweeping changes in response to the manufacturing operation's traditional wide-ranging, non-standardised tooling consumption programme, coupled with the company's continual trends towards using carbide cutters at increased spindle speeds, particularly for milling operations.
His response has been to replace six manual tool grinders that were dedicated to separate cutter types with a new CMC tooling cell based around the Walter Helitronic Power.
“Clearly, the cutter team was operating an ad hoc grind-on-demand service – trying to meet the minute-to-minute demands of the hangar teams – and with such a wide variety of tooling in circulation throughout the site there was no real control over supply” he says.
“The introduction of a programme of standardised cutters (holders and shanks) throughout the site will ease that situation considerably, and by investing in the appropriate CMC tool grinder we will be able to make more of our own tooling”.
“Cutter supply will now be controlled by Kanbans that will trigger supply, grinding and purchasing of raw materials. Grinding will be performed in batches, thereby reducing amortised unit times. Standard cutters will be held as minimum stock enabling immediate supply or rapid modification to meet special requirements”.
“In addition, with the milling machines in particular working at higher spindle speeds, we obviously needed perfectly balanced cutters - hence the Walter machine”.
Kevin is adamant that the cutter team's new-found flexibility and versatility is exactly what is needed to reduce costs and improve the supply of tooling throughout the site – and, he says, these are the same qualities that made the Helitronic Power the machine of choice.
Available from Korber Schleifring UK of Honiley, near Kenilworth, the Helitronic Power offers 11.5 kW of power and rapid traverse rates of 15 m/ min in all linear axes plus 1208/sec on the rotational axes. The machine can accommodate tools up to 350 mm long (300 mm for face grinding) and 320 mm diameter.
The machine has effectively created a sea of change in the Division's tooling supply, with the cell also equipped with Walter-supplied programming to cover all eventualities, as well as PC-based stock control/ordering and complemented by dedicated equipment and tool storage cabinets within the same cell.
Armed with this technology, the team is already employing grinding procedures that are leading to extended tool life, in one instance by changing the flute runout forms and surface finishes on sheet metalworking cutters thereby making them less susceptible to breaking at higher feed rates. Kevin says this is just the start of things to come!