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by Jim Barnes

Don’t take the horizontal you have for granted, says Nelson Martins, president, DiPaolo CNC Retrofit Ltd., Mississauga, ON. Optimizing the machine is essential. People tend to run horizontals all day long, so small things matter. “If you save a minute per part and you do 100 parts a day, you have gained more than an hour and a half of machining time,” notes Martins.

Popular upgrades include expanded toolchangers, new attachments and higher-speed spindles. “One of the easiest upgrades to visualize is adding a fourth or fifth axis rotary table,” says Martins. “The additional axis can give the machine a lot more functionality.”

He has a tougher sell with controls and software, where the customer can’t actually see equipment. Adaptive controls, for example, sense the load at the spindle. When the tool is “cutting air,” without resistance, the control automatically increases the feed rate until it senses a load again, explains Martins.

“When I try to sell a system like that to a job shop, they sometimes look at me like I am crazy. They can’t understand it. A lot of these places are still changing tools by hand. They don’t preset their tools offline. They don’t do these things because cycle time is not the biggest driver for them – each part is unique,” says Martins.

However, as with any manufacturing technology, continuous improvement should be on every manager’s agenda.

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