DP Tool & Machine Inc. in Avon, New York, could be described as the epitome of a busy, modern and forward-thinking contract machining shop. It is one that incorporates and benefits from a well-rounded array of today’s most effective manufacturing and machining technology advancements. These include multi-tasking and five-axis machining capabilities as well as a good deal of automation and some digital connectivity.
In addition to always employing the latest manufacturing technology, DP Tool’s other key business strategy is standardization when it comes to its machine tools and automation. The standardization of machines and thus control platforms give the shop consistency and flexibility. It also makes machine maintenance easier and shortens the learning curve for employees, allowing them to move from one machine to the next seamlessly and without causing bottlenecks or loss of production time.
Brothers Peter and David Phillips run DP Tool, the company their father started back in 1972. The business has grown from taking on any job that came through the door to over 100 customers scattered across the automotive, food and beverage, health imaging, motorsports, machinery, oil and gas, material handling, and power distribution industry along with other sectors. In addition, the growth continues with new work coming in from both existing and first-time customers..
According to the brothers, what really differentiates DP Tool is that it tends to leave commoditized jobs to other shops while it pursues high value-added jobs involving complex, tight-tolerance parts that most shops are unable to produce cost effectively. Targeted jobs for DP Tool are also those that usually encompass families of parts that require just-in-time deliveries. It is this type of work – like the machining of automotive components for specialty vehicles such as the Ford Raptor truck and Ford Shelby GT 500 Mustang – that lends itself well to the shop’s many automated machines.
DP Tool has over 50 machine tools, and all of them are from Mazak. The lineup includes everything from turning centers, multi-tasking machines and full 5-axis machines to standard verticals, horizontals and vertical turning lathes.
Some of the newer Mazaks include several INTEGREX Multi-Tasking machines, among them an i-300S, j-200, e-420H-S and e-410H. The shop’s verticals are all 40 taper and include a newer Mazak VARIAXIS i-700 with full 5-axis capability. The lineup of turning centers encompasses a MEGATURN 900, QUICK TURN NEXUS 250-MYs and -MSYs, QUICK TURN NEXUS 350-MY, a CYBERTECH TURN 4500M with a long boring bar stocker for processing parts up to 36” deep and several MULTIPLEX machines automated with gantry robots.
The machines FED chose to purchase not only allow the company to create components three times faster, but also one hundred times more accurately. “The process is extremely repeatable, and the software and interface have been phenomenal for us,” said Frank. FED is gearing up for much larger production runs. Frank said that before they purchased the Mazak machines, they were only able to do ten units every so often. With the Mazaks on board, the company can now do 300 units and sell them for half the price.
The shop’s most recent Mazaks are seven HCN 5000 Horizontal Machining Centers, some of which feature Mazak’s new MAZATROL Smooth Controls. All seven of the machines are part of a two-level Mazak PALLETECH High Rise Automation System. It features a rail guided robot, 60-pallet stocker capacity and Mazak’s Smooth PMC cell controller that oversees all operations and helps DP Tool take full advantage of the cell’s extreme flexibility.
One person with the PALLETECH Automation System can, at times, keep all seven HCN 5000s running by serving the load/unload stations and keeping up with required tool changes. A fully automatic programmable presetter and Mazak’s Smooth PMC software. While initially acquired for one big production job, additional machines were added, and the cell’s flexibility allows the shop to fill in production ups and downs with other work to keep the cell’s schedule full and it constantly producing.
“What we do is load a production job, then fill in any available space with just-in-time jobs,” explained Peter Phillips, president of DP Tool. “We usually dedicate the high-volume work to maybe three of the HCNs, while short run jobs go to the other four with 160-tool capacity magazines. The cell is very flexible and we can set it up to meet our specific needs, running certain jobs during the day and others overnight.”
On its automated MULTIPLEXs, DP Tool, again, runs more than just high-volume jobs – some involve only 10 or 20 pieces, usually in the form of product families. Operators at these automated machines simply keep gantry tables supplied with raw parts that enter the machines and exit complete. Operators aren’t responsible for any machining operations except changing worn tools and making offsets when necessary. They are, however, responsible for part quality checking as well as measuring and entering the data into an SPC. They also do some assembly and finishing work when needed.
“With us, automation isn’t all about the money, it’s about part handling,” commented Phillips. “Every time someone reaches into a machine to load or unload a part, even if it only weighs 15 lb, and has to do it all day long, you end up with ergonomic issues. So, for us, it’s always better to have a robot or some sort of automation.”
In addition to optimizing production through automation, the shop has been implementing MTConnect and most recently piloted the standard communications protocol on a subset of smaller machines.
“We immediately recognized its value,” said Phillips. “At this point it’s not only data collection, but also the fact that it gives our people greater visibility into their individual operational results. Eventually, we want to get to the level where we have monitors throughout the shop so everyone can measure their department’s output, then use that data to set and obtain goals for a feeling of accomplishment. We will also measure some utilization/overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).”
Almost all of DP Tool’s Mazak Multi-Tasking turning machines have Y-axis capability and either single or twin spindles. These machines, along with the shop’s full 5-axis verticals, allow DP Tool to machine as many, if not all, of a part’s features in a single setup to hold extremely tight relational tolerances. Its INTEGREX machines, in particular, provide the flexibility to produce prismatic parts – those rarely considered for a turning operation – from round stock to eliminate part handling.
“Every time a machine stops for operator intervention, the time span can vary,” explained Phillips. “There’s no consistency. And with the Mazaks, parts come off the machines complete with DONE IN ONE production. This boosts quality because we can control and guarantee the positional accuracy as the machine does all the part handling.”
Workpieces at DP Tool are both round and prismatic in shape and made from a variety of materials including copper, Inconel, stainless steels, brass, aluminum, ductile iron and tool steels. Typical sizes can range from parts measuring 0.500” in diameter to those up around 36” in diameter and feature tolerances that run from ±0.001” to as tight as ±0.0003”. The shop’s part-processing operations encompass turning, milling, drilling and threading in addition to deep boring and hardturning.
Job lot sizes are anywhere from one piece to hundreds, but the average typically falls between 15 and 20 pieces. Most of the shop’s high-mix/low-volume jobs and short-run production work are part of recurring jobs, and within the course of a month, DP Tool can ship parts for upwards of 500 jobs.“For our type of work, the Mazaks make job setups much faster and easier,” said David Phillips, vice president of DP Tool. “The new MAZATROL Smooth controls, for instance, are much more powerful and allow us to import part model files and create machine programs directly from them. The controls greatly reduce the risk of scrapping the first part of a job.” He added that those shops that fail to embrace technology will soon loose work to the competition that has. “When we incorporate new equipment, it must be the most current, reliable and precise, which is exactly what we get with Mazak.”