Low Volume Automation, Challenges and Advantages.
Featured in October 2016 Issue of InCast Magazine Presented during the 63rd Annual Technical Conference & Expo,
October 16 – 19, 2016
By: Aaron Phipps of MPI, Inc.
At this year’s ICI Technical Conference in Columbus, Ohio, Aaron Phipps, MPI’s Vice President Manufacturing & Engineering, presented the third of a three-paper series discussing cost reduction through process improvement in the wax room. The final paper focused squarely on utilizing automation in a low volume environment.
Historically, automation has been thought to be unachievable for the ‘job shop.’ The prevailing belief is that only high volume or high value parts could be automated with significant cost savings and that low volume, low value parts were too expensive to automate, and not worth the effort.
The challenge MPI faced was to help their customer automate parts without making costly changes to their process. The customer was regularly given an order for parts to produce in short runs with little to no minimum guarantee of future orders other than what was provided by the initial PO. MPI worked with their customer to develop a unique automation solution that included some specific design constraints including; no major die modifications, no major runner modifications, short set up time on new jobs, and easy job changeover.
MPI chose to focus on a few representative parts to prove out their concept. This paper details every step of the project including the many challenges MPI faced along the way. It also describes the many advantages that automation can achieve in reducing variability.
Overcoming Common Wax Injection Problems: The First Step toward Automation
Featured in March 2016 Issue of InCast Magazine Presented during the 14th World Conference in Investment Casting Paris, France, April 19, 2016
By: Jeffrey Rich & Aaron Phipps of MPI, Inc
A requirement for automated injection of wax patterns is the ability to make defect free patterns. MPI has collaborated with two US foundries in 2015 to demonstrate how quality dies combined with the proper application of process controls can eliminate common wax injection defects.
Demonstrated results have shown significant reduction of scrap in the wax room, increased throughput and higher casting yields. The results were a dramatic reduction in scrap, reducing both operating costs and rework costs while dramatically increasing throughput. In both cases, the customer realized a corresponding casting yield increase. In one of these cases, the success of eliminating scrap from the wax injection process opened the door to automation of the wax injection of this family of parts.