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Case Study

High Performance Machining Drives Out The Competition

High Performance Machining Drives Out The Competition

As the president and owner of Wolcott Design Services, Bob Wolcott oversees the design, analysis and fabrication that his Oregon shop, providing racing, technology and outdoor equipment for other industries.

From concept to creation, this small shop prides itself on having multiple capabilities under one roof—creating a fluid transition between design and production while offering increased part quality at a reduced cost and lead-time.

“For a small-size company like us to offer the kind of robust manufacturing capabilities and high-performance horizontal and vertical machining centres that you may not even see in some mid-size manufacturing facilities, it shows our dedication in emphasising quality,” said Wolcott.

“As the designers of many of the parts we make, we know exactly where the accuracies need to be, and this saves a lot of time and stress for our customers. They don’t have to wait for 1,000 parts to be produced before identifying design errors. We know these things before the part hits the machine, and we can accomplish all of this cost-effectively, which translates to a lower price for the finished part.”

Wolcott Invest in their first Makino a51nx

When evaluating between Vertical or Horizontal Machining Centres, Wolcott looked at several brands before choosing the Makino a51nx horizontal machining centre for his operation.

“The 40-taper spindle is extremely rigid and robust, which has allowed us to expand our versatility and the variety of parts that we produce. The 14,000-rpm spindle gives us the range of speed necessary to machine a variety of materials and features. Whether we are hogging out material or producing a pristine finish, the a51nx provides the power and torque we need to produce parts from start to finish in a single setup,” Wolcott explained to Competitive Production.

Makino a51nx Horizontal Machining Centre
Makino a51nx Horizontal Machining Centre

Because the machine can handle more parts per fixture and does not need frequent changeovers, it is always cutting. Its automatic pallet changer and high-capacity tool magazine helps Wolcott boost spindle utilisation by loading parts and tools outside of the work zone without interrupting the machining process.

“We appreciate that we don’t have to interrupt the machining process on the a51nx,” said Wolcott. “We get up to 85 per cent spindle utilisation, allowing us to move lots of work through the machine. Producing batches of 10,000 parts is easy for us now—and, because of that, we are pursuing more high-volume jobs.”

With the a51nx bringing in so much business, they needed the Makino PS 95!

The success of the horizontal machine led to so many throughputs that new jobs were rapidly entering the queue. As business grew, Wolcott needed additional investment to keep up with his success on larger part production runs.

The company needed a cost-effective solution that would provide a much closer level of quality to that of the a51nx. What was necessary was another machine with the speed, rigidity and accuracy of the a51nx that would efficiently run in parallel to keep up. Besides having the ability to handle the increased production the company was experiencing, the machine had to be flexible enough to handle prototype work. Wolcott chose to replace one of his previous vertical machining centres with the Makino PS95.

Makino PS95 spindle
Makino PS95 spindle

“That speed of the PS95 makes a real difference. For instance, the extra 30 minutes saved allows me to complete one more part per day,” said Wolcott. “On a $200 part, with the same number of employees using the same floor space, that equals an extra $1,000 more profit per week. That kind of savings quickly justifies the investment in a high-performance machine.”

“With the PS95 we have the ability to produce a quality finished part at a competitive price,” said Wolcott. “The PS95 is giving our company access to entirely new markets because of its accuracy and speed.”

“With the a51nx and the PS95 machines, we are able to take full advantage of production peaks and handle any work that comes our way. Having the capacity to nail those busy times with productivity, accuracy and reliability makes purchasing these high-performance machining centres well worth it.”

Sections of this article were originally published in Competitive Production – The Publication from Makino that Produces More Competitive Companies.