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The right tool.

Tool system ups throughput

BuTech Pressure Systems, eager to increase its turning productivity, investigated new roughing and finishing tools to meet its needs. Tool selection also had to include cutting parameters that worked well and without fail. The Erie, PA-based company's solution was a standardized tool selection program from Sandvik Coromant Co., Fair Lawn, NJ.

Using Sandvik's CoroKey Tool Selection Program, BuTech's tool-room manager can now quickly identify the right tool and its cutting data. Sounds simple, but CoroKey eliminated many of the frustrations operators experienced while setting up a job. Instead of operators hunting for the right tool to perform roughing and finishing, CoroKey lets them confidently make the best choice.

Turning speeds have also steadily increased. As a result, BuTech has reduced set up and cycle times by as much as 50 percent, while increasing throughput and productivity. The company has also gained greater utilization of its work force and resources as BuTech remains competitive in today's market. Today, turning operators can do more with fewer tools, since CoroKey has made it possible to reduce overall toolroom inventory.

BuTech Pressure Systems manufacturers high-pressure valves by turning and milling all the components of the valve, then assembling them. Customers for these new generation ball-valves for oil and hydraulic systems are primarily in the petroleum and aerospace industries. Most products at BuTech are turned from Type 316 stainless-steel bar stock with hardnesses of 28 to 32 HRC. The cold-worked stock provides a higher hardness than typical for this stainless steel type. Hardness ensures the tensile strength required by the high-pressure valves. BuTech also turns and mills ball valve components from high nickel content stainless steel and high-temperature alloys.

Setup frustrations

Previously, when jobs came into BuTech, turning operators would request a particular tool from the toolroom. According to Ron Renner, manager of the toolroom and of purchasing, these requests were based on memory and previous good or bad experiences. "Each operator had their own tool preferences. The cutting tools for a given part would vary by operator," Renner recalls.

While the operators focused on doing the job right, their preferences weren't necessarily based on any concrete reasoning. Sometimes it simply came down to selecting a tool based on the color of the box it came in. "The operators became very prejudiced about certain inserts because of these beliefs," adds Renner.

Renner's job requires him to buy the right tools and make sure they work. He saw the frustration operators experienced when setting up a job, installing the tool and setting cutting parameters. The non-standardized method of identifying a tool and its correct cutting data resulted in what became known as the "cut-and-hope" method of job setup. According to Renner, "We weren't really sure how well the cutting data would perform with any tool. Too often, we saw inconsistent tool lie or tool damage which led to machine down time. We also scrapped a lot of workpieces because of these issues."

These frustrations with tooling selection could interfere with lead times. "We run a lot of small batches and don't have a lot of lead time," explains Renner"We wanted to be able to troubleshoot our cutting problems without taking time to contact the tooling supplier."

Simplified tool selection

The solution for BuTech and Renner proved to be the Sandvik CoroKey Tool Selection Program. The program guides tool selection by conducting the search in stages according to readily available information about an application.

In the first pass, inserts are sorted according to workpiece material, which determines the type of cutting insert family. Inserts for steel, cast steel and malleable iron are color-coded blue and letter-coded "P." Inserts for stainless steel are color-coded yellow and lettercoded "M." Inserts for cast iron are color-coded red and letter-coded "K."

The second pass considers the type of application and indicates the geometry of the insert. For either turning or milling, inserts are sorted according to light ("F"), general purpose ("M"), and heavy-duty ("R") conditions.

The final selection pass allows consideration of the machining conditions and indicates the insert grade. For either turning or milling, inserts can be selected to handle "good," "average" or "difficult" conditions.

Based on cutting objectives, such as versatility, productivity and security, operators can choose the best tool. For all inserts, recommended cutting data is based on extensive laboratory tests and controlled field application of the inserts, and are constantly updated. Most important, they are accurate.

The CoroKey program was introduced to Renner through his local distributor and a Sandvik representative, Enzo Leo. "Initially, the Sandvik representative gave us some tools and their recommended cutting data. We did what the program said to do. Every time, the cutting recommendations performed, we were eager to hear about CoroKey."

According to Renner, CoroKey is very specific when it comes to selecting a grade and insert type to use for a particular material. "The system provides accurate feeds and speeds laid out in a very user-friendly, easy-to-read way." Today, when an operator requires a roughing or finishing tool, Renner can provide the insert he needs with cutting data specified or calculated to the material's hardness. "A great thing about CoroKey is that you can go back at any time for easy reference to review cutting tool information." The program is available in catalogs and on CD-ROM.

Faster cutting speeds

Through CoroKey, operators have cut the amount of time needed to identify the right tool and cutting parameters for the job. No longer do operators have to "cut-and-hope" when starting a job. According to Renner, "The real advantage of CoroKey is not its impact on any particular product we manufacture. The real impact comes from the system allowing operators to choose and apply their tooling more effectively."

"Many tools can run correctly and run well," says Renner. "What is critical is that the cutting data selected for a certain tool is available, accurate and easy to read. Many tool suppliers make quality tooling but if we don't run their tools correctly, they will fail. We like using Sandvik tooling because it runs well using the cutting data that Sandvik provides."

Getting operators to understand this point was a slow revolution for Renner. "I didn't have the power to tell the operators to use only the Sandvik inserts and the CoroKey system. It wouldn't have worked if I just handed them the insert and gave them some numbers."

To encourage use of CoroKey, the Sandvik representative and Renner worked beside the operators while they ran the tools at the suggested feeds and speeds. This proved to be quite effective in promoting acceptance of systematic tool selection. "They saw that the cutting recommendations worked well and also that the increased cutting speeds did not mean additional headaches," says Renner. "In fact, a lot of the headaches went away."

The performance of the tools at the recommended feeds and speeds provided operators with faster cutting times. The overall result has been shorter cycle times and higher job throughput. "It has been common to reduce cycle times by 30 percent," says Renner, "and not uncommon to reduce them by 50 percent."

The success of the initial applications of CoroKey data made operators more willing to apply the system to other turning applications. Renner has CoroKey charts placed all around the toolroom. Also, many operators at BuTech have their own CoroKey books at their machines so they can make selections on their own.

Fewer tools

Standardizing tool selection has done more than reduce set-up time, increase productivity, reduce production costs and increase the efficient uptime usage of BuTech lathes. The new tool selection program has also reduced the tool inventory. "I know that CoroKey allowed us to reduce tool inventory significantly. We have minimized the number of tools necessary to do our work, yet we gave all the tools we need for every application," explains Renner.

CoroKey has allowed BuTech to make the most of its resources. "Faster speeds and feeds mean higher throughput and greater operator productivity," Renner claims. Since implementing CoroKey, he sees less frustration on the floor since tool life is now predictable and cutting parameters are close to optimum for each tool. "Operators know they can put a tool in, insert the part, push the button and have confidence that the tool will work well."

Because Sandvik Coromant constantly upgrades its tooling, implementing the CoroKey system enables BuTech to remain up-to-date with the latest in tooling technology. Operators find out about the latest grade improvements practically as they occur.

Milling wants in

Learning to use CoroKey was simple, according to Renner. CoroKey eliminates the necessity of having to consider the intricacies of cutting-tool geometries and grades when choosing the best tool for the job. Both he and his lathe operators received training from Sandvik. "The training was focused on stainless steel. CoroKey's simplicity allowed us to apply what we learned to other materials we cut," he adds.

Other machining operations at BuTech have noticed the increase in productivity of the turning operations. "At the insistence of the milling operators, we began applying CoroKey to our milling department. They wanted to obtain the same kind of improvements in cutting characteristics and gains in productivity," says Renner.

CoroKey immediately enabled milling operators to reduce cycle times by 30 to 50 percent for some applications. According to Renner, "They were disappointed when some of our drymilling applications saw cycle-time reductions of only 25 percent."
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sandvik Coromant Co.'s tool-cutting system
Comment:The right tool.(Sandvik Coromant Co.'s tool-cutting system)
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Next Article:Toolholder solves distortion problem.

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