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Less Setup Equals Being More Competitive

 It’s a simple equation for Slabe Machine Products (Willoughby, Ohio). If its spindles aren’t turning, the shop isn’t making money. Understanding this fundamental principle of the contract machining business and reacting to the just-in-time demands of its customers, Slabe Machine Products (SMP) has waged an all out war on machine setup time. The weapons the company has chosen in this battle have been multi-axis CNC Swiss-type lathes and turn-mill centers capable of dropping a part complete in a single setup.

SMP is an ISO 9002 certified component manufacturer that satisfies the micro-electronics, ultra-high purity and high pressures valve, medical, aerospace, commercial and automotive industries. Most of its customers come to SMP seeking parts with more complex detail made from alloys such as Inconel and waspalloy that are tougher to work with.

As the shop made the transition away from conventional CNC milling and turning centers and cam operated screw machines to more advanced machining, it quickly realized how critical efficient off-line CNC programming was to minimizing machine down-time during setup. Having invested in complex Swiss machines, including a Citizen L-20 and two Citizen M-32s as well as twin-turret, twin spindle turn-mill centers from Hardinge and Nakamura-Tome, SMP turned to PartMaker CAM software from PARTMAKER Inc. (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania) 3 years ago to streamline its CNC programming off-line. The software assures SMP that when one part is completed the next is ready to run with an absolute minimum amount of setup time.

"As our work has been condensed to truly just-in-time lead times, we’ve been forced to change our entire business in order to generate much smaller volumes of components much faster at the same cost as the higher volume runs of years ago,” says company vice president of sales Brendan Slabe. "Without the combination of the machines we currently have and PartMaker software, the parts we make would be cost prohibitive.”

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