MoldMaking Technology

NOV 2018

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moldmakingtechnology.com 31 Today, Cooper Tires no longer uses the lathe, the saw or the wire EDM machine for upfront processing. "The advanced capability of the Makino D500 and the new robot have made it possible for us to machine the complex treads in three set- ups (the operator must flip the parts) and run unattended," Duling says. "We took about 30 hours out of the processing time." Now, the lathe is used for only one mold component—a turned part that has the brand name, inflation pressure, size of the tire and related warnings machined into it. "The EDM machine and saw are idled," he says. "We're looking to sell off that equipment and purchase a smaller EDM machine for other work that we are trying to bring in-house." Besides the reduction in equipment that the team needed to machine tire molds, Cooper Tires has reduced the aluminum it needed for the molds as well. Again, the company started with aluminum "rings" or cylinders that were cut into eight machinable segments. "That posed some problems," Duling says. "If we had to scrap a piece out of that mold, we would have to acquire a whole new ring and cut it up just to get one extra segment, which added a lot more expense in the cost of the mold. With the Makino D500 ‹ive-axis machines and the FANUC seven-axis robot, we no longer have to purchase the material in rings. Instead, we order individual blocks of aluminum for each segment. Now, if we scrap a part, we only replace what we scrap. We don't need a complete ring, so we eliminated some processes and saved, on average, about $300 to $400 in material per mold." More Automation, Less Downtime With the investment in new, advanced CNC and automation technology came the elimination or signi‹icant reduction of manual processes, Duling says. He has 16 employees who work on the shop floor. One operator tends the new Makino cell with the four new D500 VMCs and the four Fidia ‹ive-axis verticals remaining in the old cell. The company also has four FPT Stinger ‹ive-axis VMCs that are fed by parts that the Makino cell pre- pares. Only one operator oversees production on the company's only milling cell, unless workloads are heavy. In that case, a sec- ond operator is put on the cell. Unavailable operators and a lack of reliable automation from the existing cell to keep jobs mov- ing from machine to machine using its Automated Rail-Guided Vehicle (ARGV) caused much of the downtime that Cooper Tires experienced, Duling says. "The ARGV was capable of automa- tion but was unreliable," Duling says. "With very geometrically complex tire tread designs and CNC machines that were border- ing on 20 years that were inef‹icient and incapable of holding the tight tolerances we demand today, an operator had to be available to load the parts into the machines, set up everything and start the programs. The operator, however, might be tend- ing other machines, be on break or even be on vacation." Makino worked with Cooper Tires to write the necessary macros for probing the parts, setting up the parts and running programs for the new machines and robot. Now, when a job order is created for the CNC cell, the new FANUC robot brings ‹ixtures to a work-set station and from there tells the opera- tor which part needs to go on which ‹ixtures. Once the mold segments are in place, the operator pushes a button, and the Makino Advanced System (MAS) automation takes over. MAS is the brains of the system, and it keeps the machines loaded and running whether an operator is present or not. "The NC program is uploaded and stored in the PRO6 con- trol, from which the MAS directs the robot to perform the tasks of loading the machines and starting the programs," he says. "The robot doesn't take a break, and it doesn't need time off. It looks at the cutting tools in the machine and ensures that everything is ready and available. Based on due dates and run- time estimates that we feed into the system, the MAS prioritizes and schedules parts for machining to deliver them on time. We have reduced our downtime by about 30 percent just by adopt- ing automation and eliminating most of the manual processes." Additionally, Duling says that the machining technology is so advanced that Cooper Tires has been able to eliminate second- ary manual processes. "Previously, our technicians were spend- ing a lot of time—around six hours on average—blending out the tool marks and small gouges left by the older equipment," he says. "Now, the surface ‹inishes from the Makino D500 CNC machines are so ‹ine that there is virtually no bench work or hand ‹inishing required." He says that the PRO6 control, together with Makino's SGI.5 (Super Geometric Intelligence) software and machine kinematics, A wider view of Cooper Tires's CNC machining cell shows the company's ability to enclose its eight CNC machining centers, a robot, a 40-position pallet stocker and a rail system into a compact space, which was a key factor in deciding to automate with a versatile, seven-axis robot. Space is currently at a premium in the moldmaking facility, the company says.

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