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Iscar customers go behind the scenes to gain insights into cutting tool R&D, manufacturing

If you want to reduce your total production costs, increase your productivity. And the best way to do that is to increase speeds and feeds. Focus on that, and you will cut the cost of production in the first year by 15 to 20 per cent.

That's the message Jacob Harpaz, president and CEO of Iscar, relayed to manufacturers at a recent seminar at the company's global headquarters in Tefen, Israel.

The company played host recently to more than 200 manufacturers from English speaking countries around the world, including Canada. The event included two days of product technology presentations, cutting demonstrations and tours of the some of the manufacturing facilities, including a carbide production plant manufacturing indexable tooling, a tool division plant manufacturing milling cutters, a tooling systems facility for toolholders, a heat treatment operation and a chucks and collet production operation.

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Cutting tools represent only 3 per cent of total production costs, so focusing on cutting these costs by extending tool life will help you cut costs by 1.5 per cent.

"We believe true [higher] productivity increases of 20 per cent are achieved through increasing speeds and feeds. Only through higher productivity can we guarantee this cost reduction," says Harpaz. "This is what we mean by 'machining intelligently'," referring to Iscar's theme for the launch of its IQ product line, introduced in Canada earlier this year.

The IQ product launch is the largest in the company's 60-year history with more than 1,350 products, some of which Harpaz spoke about during his presentation.

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Milling cutters with Iscar's chip splitting effect.

While the IQ product launch was the most extensive line-up to date, Harpaz noted that ongoing new production introductions is part of the company's culture, which emphasizes innovation. Approximately 5 to 6 per cent of annual revenue generated by the $300-billion dollar company (now 100 per cent owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.) is invested back into R&D and 40 per cent of that annual revenue is generated by new products that are less than five years old.

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Engineers in the R&D office at Iscar's Tefen, Israel site.

Harpaz attributes the company's ability to introduce a high number of innovative cutting tool technologies to two factors: fully automated manufacturing facilities and an R&D environment in which different teams within the company "compete against each other by taking a new product and trying to improve on it."

Seeing is believing

Nothing illustrates the ability of a cutting tool better than seeing it in action, close up. Indeed, for many of the Canadian manufacturers who attended the Iscar seminar, the machining demonstration portion of the event was cited as the most valuable component.  Attendees were able to sit and watch in real time while different cutting tools performed different cutting techniques on several machines equipped with video cameras.

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Oscar Marco, a CNC programmer with Messier-Dowty, Ajax, ON, says he "always knew the capabilities of the cutting tools but you can't know how well they perform until you see it with your own eyes. We work in a machine shop and I can't interrupt a machine to do test runs. But here, I can see how the tools are going to perform."

Paul Grguric, plant manager with Acroturn Industries Inc., Brampton, ON, echoed Marco's comment. "For sure this is a worthwhile event to attend because it helps to gain a better understanding about how the cutting tools can be used and how they perform."

For Nicolas Graube, a machinist with Atlantic Hardchrome Ltd., Dartmouth, NS, the demos helped him to confirm his decision about the milling tools he planned to purchase. "There's a reason why Iscar is among the top cutting tool suppliers in the world, and the performance of the cutting tools in the demonstrations proved this."

Brent Fancey, tool coordinator with HPG Inc., Oakville, ON, noted "the demos were slick, without question and convinced me about the performance of the DoveIQMill, which was pretty impressive."

Report by Mary Scianna in Tefen, Israel


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