Mazak Corp’s “Discover More With Mazak” customer events combine showroom demos of its machine tools, technical/educational presentations, tabletop exhibits by related suppliers and networking opportunities with like-minded machine shop owners and plant managers. These events have been scheduled at selected Mazak tech centers is various parts of the country, with demos and presentations tailored to the special interests of the specific region in which they occur.
I attended the Midwest Event at the company’s Midwest Regional Headquarters & Technical Center in Schaumburg, a suburb north of Chicago. This event focused on multitasking, the technology of combining multiple machining processes such as milling, turning, gear hobbing and so on, on one machine platform. Mazak is a rich source of wisdom and guidance on multitasking (see the company’s recently launched Multitasking Knowledge Center). Because Chicago is at the heart of a substantial concentration of capable, forward-thinking job shops in the Midwest, the focus on multitasking was on target.
Here are some of the new of refreshed insights into multitasking that I gleaned from the presentations and demos:
- Multitasking comes in many levels. Mazak has identified five, with machine models for each level. Shops can make their entry into multitasking at the level that suits their needs and readiness.
- Multitasking involves looking differently at every aspect of the machining process. This is not tough to do, but it does require a conscious commitment to changing old habits of thought. Ideas such as letting the machine be the fixture, or understanding that five-axis is about tool maneuverability as much as about contouring are examples.
- Designing parts to be produced specifically on a multitasking machine is an advantage. Get more out of the machine; do more for your customer; make the job order more secure with an exclusive process.
- CAM programming for multitasking makes a big difference. Make sure the software has the right capabilities, provides dependable simulation and has a sure-fire postprocessor.
- The right operator can make or break a multitasking implementation. Choose the person carefully. Flexibility, mental openness and strong math skills are key traits.