Volz Engineering Productivity Gains From ETG EDM Installation
As part of the Volz Group, Volz Engineering Ltd has ambitious growth plans. The Rochdale based company has recently invested in a new CMM, two 3-axis machining centres, a turning centre and most recently, a Mistubishi MV2400S wire EDM machine from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).
The Volz Group manufactures HVAC filters for commercial and industrial applications as well as manufacturing the machinery for producing the filters and associated components such as filter frames and clips. The growth strategy at Volz Engineering includes plans for a dedicated design and manufacturing division, filter frame production and also two machine shops; one for subcontract manufacture and another dedicated to the highly automated filtration production machines the company specialises in. The four divisions will add to and expand existing facilities that also include a press tool and fixture manufacturing department.
With the expansion strategy and a continued requirement for press tools and filtration automation machinery, the Greater Manchester business was witnessing indifferent performance from a 25-year-old Mitsubishi EDM machine. Recalling the situation, Volz Engineering Ltd Managing Director, Mr Alan Reeson says: “Our previous EDM machine was unreliable and costly to maintain – as is the case of any machine of such an age. ETG did a fantastic job of maintaining the machine, but we realised that we needed a 21st Century upgrade. Weighing up the cost of subcontracting EDM work out, machine downtime and repairs as well as lost production hours, ETG offered us a finance solution for a new EDM machine that was a ‘no-brainer’ for our business. It worked out more cost-effective to get a new machine than retain the old wire EDM.”
Taking delivery of the new Mitsubishi MV2400S wire EDM in October, the new machine has been a revelation for 15 employees Volz Engineering. As Mr Reeson continues: “EDM is an integral part of our business as it services both the press tool and automated machinery departments. The outstanding service and support ETG provided for the previous machine was why we knew we didn’t need to look elsewhere for a new machine.”
Of course, the acquisition was based on more than just the previous service and support ETG had provided. The new installation is a ‘night and day’ contrast to the previous wire EDM machine. As Mr Reeson adds: “First and foremost, the new Mitsubishi can run lights out giving us 24/7 production. We currently run one shift, but the facility to set the machine up to run unmanned overnight is a huge advantage. This is a credit to the wire having the facility to automatically re-thread and re-position itself and continue working, so the machine doesn’t lose production hours if the wire breaks. Additionally, the set-up time is 60% faster on the new Mitsubishi MV2400S than the previous machine. We are now setting up and running jobs in less than one hour. More impressive is that as part of our training programme from ETG, the ETG engineer ran through ways to set up existing jobs differently to how our shop floor staff have previously done things. As we do a lot of repeat work, this further improves our processes, productivity and throughput.”
The new Mitsubishi MV2400S accommodates workpiece dimensions up to 1050 by 820 by 305mm in X, Y and Z axes with a maximum component capacity up to 1500kg that can fit on the 840 by 560mm table. The machine can utilise wire diameters from 0.1 to 0.3mm and it is supplied with tubular shaft drives with linear scales, the M800 control with 19” full-touch screen monitor, hand pilot with configurable LCD monitor, digital AE II generator and a filter switching system.
“Another factor on this new machine is the ability to read DXF files. Not only does this allow us to send files directly from the office to the machine; it also gives us configuration control. Parts and the allocated issue number for the parts and programmes can be followed strictly through our database and through the Mitsubishi machine – eliminating the opportunity for operator error. Additionally, as the machine is fully CNC controlled, our operators can go straight from the model to the machine without deviating from the required task at hand.”
One factor that drew the company to the Mitsubishi MV2400S was the 12-year positional warranty, as Mr Reeson says: “The 12-year positional warranty is a genuine sign of quality. There will be very few if any machine tool manufacturers that would be prepared to offer such a customer commitment – it is the mark of a quality machine.”
As the machine has been running less than a week at Volz Engineering, quantifying productivity improvements over the previous wire EDM machine is not currently feasible. Although, it is expected the machine will perform 50% faster than its predecessor. As Mr Reeson concludes: “The technology, the generator and all of the other features of this machine will reap huge productivity rewards for our business. The ability to run unmanned is a major benefit, as is the reduced set-ups, improved programming and ease of use. Another key factor, as with any new machine tool is efficiency. The Mitsubishi MV2400S has a significantly lower running cost than the previous machine with lower power consumption and lower consumable consumption and subsequently running costs. For example, the old machine had a wire consumption rate of 2.7 hours per kilogram compared to 4 hours per kilogram with the MV2400S – that’s more than a 25% saving. When the running hours are more productive on the latest machine, that rate is probably well above 25%.”