Three Ways to Make Vertical Machining Centers More Profitable
Should you go buy some robots to automatically load and unload your VMCs? Well, for the right kinds of production work, yes. For most shops, however, something more modest is probably in order. Here are some ideas.
Employ Creative Fixturing – There is a time for machining a single part at a time in a vice, but in production work, that method crushes productivity. With creative fixturing, there are myriad ways to get more out of each machining cycle.
Add a Fourth Axis – A standard rotary table is of limited value on a vertical machining center because it typically won’t provide access to multiple sides of a part. However, a vertical rotary indexer with a tailstock provides a variety of opportunities to machine multiple sides of a part, or multiple parts, in a single setup.
Consider a Pallet Changer – One of the major reasons horizontal machining centers are so productive is that workpiece loading/unloading is external to the process except for the few seconds it takes to index from one pallet to the other. You can get the same benefit on a vertical, plus all the advantages of multiple-part machining, if the vertical machining center is adaptable to this form of automation.