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Custom vises boost productivity.

Kurt Mfg Co, Minneapolis, MN, is well known as the manufacturer of the Kurt Anglock vise and other workholding devices for machining. But the growing use of manufacturing cells built around horizontal machining centers sent company managers looking for ways to improve workholding productivity even more than the standard vises.

What's happening on Kurt's own shopfloor is indicative of changes taking place in manufacturing in general, says Victor Hanks, manager of special teams for Kurt's Industrial Products Div. "Over the past three years, we've changed from a 'scenic' manufacturing environment to a focused factory," he says. "We've always sold Kurt standard products using a productivity enhancement theme, and we wanted to continue that tradition with our customized products. The only real solution was a self-directed work team."

Kurt manufactures custom workholding devices for machine tool distributors and for large customers such as Boeing and Caterpillar. But within the team environment, the "customer" is the individual in the neighboring workstation. Each team member contributes a comparable amount of time to each product, and each member checks his or her own work. Products must reach 100% accuracy before they can be passed on to the next cell.

The process of manufacturing a custom workholding device begins with a customer-supplied diagram or sketch of the desired product. A Kurt engineer will design the device using standard components as a base. The engineer's drawing is then passed to a CAD designer. CAD data are used to generate NC code for machining, and the work is inspected at each step using a CMM or other metrology equipment. Team members assemble the custom device, and conduct a final review to assure that the workholding equipment meets customer expectations.

Typical of the products manufactured using the self-directed team approach is a custom tombstone produced for Parker Hannifin's Forest City, NC, plant. The plant machines more than 100,000 parts per year for hydraulic valves used in control devices and other applications, and was reorganized to a cell-based manufacturing system.

Parker manufacturing engineer Andy Evans says the tombstone is an integral part of the manufacturing cell concept. "The customized tombstone lets us put eight parts on a horizontal machine rather than using a standard vertical. The machine now has 10-pallet capability, and will run for three or four hours without interruption."

Since reorganizing to a cell-based system, the plant has seen product leadtimes drop from six months to five days. Scrap has decreased from 20% to 5%, and Mr Evans sees room for further improvement. "We're moving toward zero setup time. We're not there yet, but with new changes we'll be there soon."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Manufacturing Solutions; Kurt Manufacturing Co.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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