Mold Maintenance & Repair

OCT 2015

Mold Maintenance & Repair

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C A S E S T U D Y 16 Mold Maintenance & Repair Laser-Focused on LEAN This toolroom made significant strides in reducing waste and improving workflow with the addition of just one piece of equipment: a mobile, flexible laser welding system. by Matthew Danford GHSP has zero tolerance for fash. In fact, this Tier 1 automotive molder has little tolerance for any kind of waste. "Lean" isn't just a buzzword here, says David Christmas, molding engineering manager, noting that fnding and remedying ineffciencies is a natural part of the day-to-day rhythm for GHSP personnel. Using routine maintenance as an opportunity to fx fash-causing issues upfront is just one example. Yet, a thorough approach to maintenance isn't the only reason why visitors won't fnd anyone trimming parts after mold ejection at GHSP. Likewise, the success of the company's broader lean effort requires more than just the right mindset—it requires the right tools, too. And one particular tool has made an outsized impact: O.R. Laser's HTS 120 B mobile laser welding system. Coupling high precision with the fexibility to work on both small inserts and blocks weighing tons, this system has reduced the budget for outside welding by two thirds, says David Goodrich, toolroom manag- er. What's more, that's a savings that ripples throughout the organization in the form of more proactive maintenance, fewer surprises, and smoother, more predictable workfow. Not Just a Luxury Visual Kanban. 5S organization. Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing. Quick-die-change tool- ing. Such strategies are critical to maintaining overall equipment effectiveness at the Grand Haven, Michigan, company, where competitive- ness depends on streamlined workfow from the 21 plastic-injection presses on one side of the 90,000-square-foot facility to the automat- ed assembly cells on the other. With only one or two days' worth of inventory in the plant at any given time, any delay could lead to a host of new costs. In an extreme case, employees might receive well-earned overtime for rushing work through for shipping at expedited rates to avoid impacting production at Honda, Chrysler, Ford or another key customer, Christmas says. Avoiding such scenarios is priority No. 1 for the 1,000-square-foot toolroom, which must main- tain a strict maintenance schedule for roughly 200 molds and act quickly if anything goes awry. This doesn't leave much room for outsourcing a mission-critical capability like welding, but there was often no other option prior to the installation of the HTS 120 B in 2011. That's due in large part to the nature of the shop's work. Shifters, one of the more common interior components molded and assembled at GHSP, can require tolerances on the order of ±0.002 inch. That's far too demanding for the tool- room's TIG systems. Such molds require relatively frequent care, too, given the prevalence of rein- forcing additives like fberglass and cycle counts of 2,000 to 3,000 parts per day. In this environment, zero tolerance for fash simply wouldn't be realistic without the laser welder, Christmas says. Beyond raw precision, Nd:Yag lasers create so little heat at the point of the weld that for most work, signifcantly distorting surrounding mate- rial isn't much of a concern. The team typically uses 0.005-inch to 0.012-inch rods to lay beads The laser welder thrives on repair jobs that require laying beads as thin as 0.015 inch, such as the one visible here. Images courtesy of GHSP.

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