Summit Packaging doubles EDM throughput by automating Mitsubishi EDM

Summit Packaging doubles EDM throughput by automating Mitsubishi EDM

December 11, 2013 10:37:59 AM

Success can have its limitations, especially when your shop’s demand exceeds your capacity. When Summit Packaging Systems, in Manchester, NH, ran into this dilemma, they had to find a solution. The company, a manufacturer of plastic aerosol valves, discovered automation was the best answer to its troubles.


“We needed more capability,” says EDM Department Supervisor, Jesse Hargrove. “We had more parts, but not enough people to run the machines, so we were trying to get more unmanned machine time.”


Hargrove’s department supplies valves for plastic injection molding and other parts to various departments within Summit Packaging. With orders for the company’s patented valves steadily increasing, a bottleneck had formed at the EDM department. “EDM is a very time intensive process, and there isn’t a shortcut that can help push things through faster,” Hargrove explains. “It became obvious that adding another machine plus automation was going to be our best bet.”


With the installation of an EA12V sinker EDM machine and a 3Rrobot, Summit has reached new heights in efficiencies. The new technology has allowed them to abandon the former one-step-at-a time approach to setup and programming. Automation allows the machine to manufacture entire jobs without supervision.


“We’re shifting into an environment that will allow us to grow and expand, where we can set up multiple parts on multiple pallets, and have the program ready to go,” Hargrove says. 


By automating the EA12V and the robot, part pallets and graphite electrodes can be easily switched out. “We used to pretty much burn one part at a time,” Hargrove says. “The fixtures were all set up one part at a time. We’d burn one; then we’d load another part and burn another. Now, we’re making multiple fixtures, and averaging eight to10 parts at a time.” 


Since their installation in late summer 2005, productivity in the EDM department has skyrocketed—without the addition of any employees. “Conservatively in the last year, since we’ve started to get into automation, we’ve at least doubled our part output per day,” Hargrove says. “We’re not adding people. We’re getting it all out of unmanned time just doing multiple parts.”


Hargrove and his manager were able to justify the expense of the new automated EDM sinker as a solution to the company’s needs, as well as an investment in the future. 


“It’s benefited us more than we expected. The owners are very happy with it,” Hargrove says. “We’re going to keep moving in that direction. We’re getting busier and busier all the time, and are looking into purchasing more equipment right now. We need to continue to streamline our processes to stay efficient and competitive in today’s economy.”

 

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