Bottlenecks can happen for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common – and frustrating – is when a machine is running at near capacity and a response to address an issue isn’t
made fast enough. When a machine can’t be serviced in a timely fashion and there is no other equipment to shift the work to, the result is manufacturing delays.
Having the foresight to track metrics that will alert a manufacturer to potential bottlenecks before they happen is an invaluable asset to have, and it can lead to making informed decisions about what machinery can be brought in to increase production efficiencies.
For Joe Morgan, CEO at Square Deal Machining Inc., a New York-based full-service metal fabrication, machining, welding and assembly shop, avoiding bottlenecks is all about careful planning. He learned years ago that making the right capital investments at the right time improved efficiencies at his shop. That same attention to detail also led to cost savings and happier customers.
Morgan was told early in his career that the rule of thumb to avoid costly bottlenecks is to begin making changes to your process once a machine hits 80 percent capacity. Making changes could include anything from putting a more experienced operator on a machine to investing in brand-new equipment or upgrading pre-existing equipment. Over the years, however, he’s learned that this old principle is flawed.
“If you wait to respond until you’re at 80 percent, it’s too late,” he says. “So we start getting plans in place at 60 percent. As soon as we feel the need, we can pull the trigger.”
To measure capacity, Morgan says the Square Deal team relies on their ERP system to track certain metrics so they can more accurately respond to the requirements of their current and forecasted order demand.
Several months ago, after analyzing the ERP data, the numbers made it clear to Morgan that the company was nearing 60 percent capacity and, therefore, more capital investments were required to keep up with demand. In response, Morgan acquired several new machines, including two lathes, two machining centers, a Hydmech cold saw and a Hydmech bandsaw. The investments, however, are based on more than just the additional capacity they offer.
“We look at everything as ‘what’s the return on investment?’” Morgan says. “Not only for the capital expenditure, but also being able to offer the customer a quick response.”
A good fit
Morgan and his team focus on keeping their customers happy. Acquiring the two faster and more accurate saws has made that goal more attainable.
“We’re all buying steel and we’re all putting labor into it,” Morgan says of his crew and other manufacturers. “By investing in the new Hydmech saws, we’ve been able to accomplish two things: quicker service to our customers and at a cheaper cost.”
One of the production goals was to bring in a saw that could cut round material between 1 and 6 in. at a faster rate. However, investing in a cold saw isn’t necessarily an easy squeeze. It involves a higher investment compared to bandsaws, but the outcomes can be stunning.
Morgan relied on the advice from a friend in the manufacturing business who uses Hydmech saws, describing them as reliable and the service as exceptional. That led Morgan to take a close look at Hydmech’s CSNC-125 carbide circular (cold) saw for ferrous and non-ferrous materials.
“The size range it covered was a selling point – it gives us the opportunity to cut as low as 1 in. and up to 1 in., which was the sweet spot we were looking for,” Morgan says. “Other saws can be limited, but the Hydmech fit our wheelhouse better in terms of the size range it can handle.”
The CSNC-125 is a user-friendly saw, which means programming the cutting cycles is relatively easy. It includes a color touchscreen control where jobs can be set up without hassle. While Square Deal acquired it for its ability to cut rounds, it also cuts square bar up to 3.5 in. Blade speeds range from 164 sfm to 656 sfm.
“When it comes to payback,” Morgan begins, “we found that the cold saw afforded us the opportunity to turn jobs quicker; it cuts about 400 percent faster than the previous machine.”
Morgan says that Square Deal uses the CSNC-125 on a variety of materials for a variety of customers that represent industries from electronics and oil and gas to construction and transportation. Morgan notes that the efficiency improvements realized after six months of use are impressive, adding the saw has the “dependability to repeat” and that the finish on the cut is “remarkable.”
“We went from two shifts of saw work down to doing it all in one shift,” he says. “It can cut a piece of 2-in. solid cold round bar in 2.2 sec. On top of that, the squareness and accuracy of cutting coming off the cold saw has enabled us to eliminate secondary machining operations.”
Overall, Morgan says the cold saw achieved the overarching goal of decreasing downtime. The addition of the Hydmech bandsaw only furthered those goals.
Morgan says they were also looking for a “workhorse” bandsaw that could make miter cuts on materials thicker than 6 in. and that staying with the Hydmech brand made sense to him. So, they opted for the V-25APC, an automatic heavy-duty vertical bandsaw with the ability to miter from 60 degrees left to 60 degrees right. It has the capacity to cut 30-in.-by-25-in. materials with its 1.5-in. blade.
“It’s mainly there to do miter cutting and complex miter cutting,” Morgan says. “It has the capabilities to do double-miter cutting, and that’s why we went with that saw. Basically, it fills the gap of what the cold saw cannot do.”