Using Lean Principles to Create Efficiencies that Benefit Metal Stamping Customers
Our customers come to us for high-quality metal stamped parts—and our reputation for deep draw stamping precedes us. Well-built tooling lays the foundation for this high quality, and is essential for a reliable manufacturing process that will deliver consistent parts throughout the life of the stamping program. Larson Tool benefits from generations-deep tool-making expertise, which is passed down through a carefully planned apprenticeship program to ensure a continuum of knowledge and experience.
However, modern technology has changed tool-building from a craftsman-centric process to a CAD-CAM-, CNC-centered process. As Larson Tool has added this CNC equipment in its tool room and integrated direct file access from CAD to CNC, we saw an opportunity to improve the tool room lay out to take full advantage of these processes.
To that end, Larson assembled a team to redesign and modify the lay out of the entire tool room area, using lean principles to create the most efficient process flow. Capital investment is an ongoing priority for us, and Larson Tool’s management gave this team carte blanche to remodel and expand our tool room. Their goal was to create a bright, clean space, replace aging equipment, and add new machinery and furnishings to take advantage of a new workflow and environment.
Re-Arranging Our Process
Re-arranging the entire area involved leveling and resurfacing the floor, adding worktables and shelving, and making space for each step in our process. With areas designated for each step of work-in-process, and routing cards designed to track each component, it is visually apparent where components are in the process, what work has been completed, and where they need to go next.
Even though we were designing a system for efficient manufacture of new tooling, we had to keep the needs of ongoing tool maintenance and repair in mind. The team considered the process flow for conditioning tools and building replacement parts for their tooling predictive maintenance programs. They ensured that both these processes could coexist in a cooperative manner to minimize scheduling conflicts and bottlenecks. This is important because Larson’s tool building, maintenance, and manufacturing of spare tooling components—as well as many replacement parts for our proprietary processes—are all done in house, from raw stock to rough machining, and heat treating to finish-grinding, where necessary. All these processes must occur alongside each other to ensure delivery to our customer will not be delayed, or that ongoing production can run without interruption.
Investing in advanced equipment and technology was an essential part of transforming our tool building processes. Larson made a major investment in the latest equipment for its tool room process, including the purchase of (see the facilities list on our website for full details):
- 2 new high-speed CNC milling machines with 40” x 20” travel
- New CNC turning mill center with 16” swing and 50” between centers
- 2 new CNC surface grinders with up to 20” x 40” travel to handle the largest die sections
- 2 WEDM.s with 21” x 15” travel and 6” height capacity
- 2 New South Bend lathes
- 2 large-capacity manual drill presses with ¾” tap capabilities
The new CNC machining centers feature high-speed milling and in-spindle cooling technology, which is capable of machining hardened tool steels and producing tooling-ready finishes, saving post-machining polishing and grinding. They are also equipped with Renishaw RF probes, which provide high accuracy for location as well as in-process and post-machining measurement.
Overview of Improvements
Here’s an overview of some of the investments and improvements made:
- Expanded the square footage of the tool room, tightened up and insulated the space, resurfaced the floors, and repainted the entire space to provide a brighter, more well-lit work area
- Created a visual process workflow with routing cards for components at each station
- Instituted a scheduling system to ensure that tool build and maintenance, and CNC processes work cooperatively to build or refurbish tools for production
- Over $750,000 invested in new equipment and improvements to the facility
- Fully integrated, design, build, and service are all done in house
How it Benefits Our Customers
- Improved lead times for new tooling projects, allowing for quicker turnaround times and faster response to requests for revisions to part specifications
- Quicker turnaround for repairs and maintenance, resulting in less downtime and uninterrupted supply chain
- Higher quality, more reliable processes for producing parts, and more consistent part quality throughout the life of the tooling program. As always, Larson builds permanent, high-volume tooling, with no additional charges for maintenance or repairs for the life of the program
About Larson Tool & Stamping Company
Since its inception in 1920 in Attleboro, MA, Larson Tool & Stamping Company has been making a difference as a valued supplier of precision metal stampings and assemblies to hundreds of companies in the United States. Larson provides high-quality, cost-effective solutions with our wide range of capabilities that include forming, stamping, deep drawing, assembly, brazing, coining, and more. Through significant investment in leading-edge manufacturing equipment and the loyal support from customers and co-workers, Larson perpetuates the commitment made by our founders to do whatever is necessary to meet and exceed customer expectations.
What all this translates to is that—whether your next project requires progressive die stamping, deep drawing, in-die assembly, or value-added operations—Larson is well-equipped to do the job. Find out first-hand, and contact us now to see for yourself.