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Research and technological development to enable workholding and tooling equipment to be produced unmanned in a jobbing shop type environment


The main objective of this project was to improve the production methods and controls within a jobbing shop environment, where the batch quantities being processed are small. Thus, the project partners have introduced technologies capable of achieving a measure of unmanned manufacture within a jobbing shop environment during breaks and unsocial hours. The technologies aimed at reducing lead-time and increasing unmanned operation that were introduced to the industrial partners included: - Parametric design and 3D visualisation of the product using AutoCAD and Mechanical Desktop systems; - Using TraceParts 3D to obtain all relevant information from the prospective customer at an initial visit and to enable a quick and accurate quotation to be produced whilst allowing the customer to see the visual representation of the mandrel; - Dedication of machines, improved tool management, tool and workpiece probing, trunnion fixtures and laser scanning of cutting tools; - Utilisation of the Heidenhain tele-diagnostic software Teleservice to provide on-line sharing of machine controller screen, remote operation of machine CNC through local keyboard, ability to exchange data files, diagnostic exploration of the machine and PLC data, etc. These services, combined with the latest telephony advances and the use of the data and voice simultaneous modems (DSVD), gives technicians the ability to analyse the machines and to give reparation orders to the operator remotely; - Investigation of hard turning which proved successful and is now being used. As a result components are being produced 100% faster than the previous grinding method; - Implementation of the JobBOSS capacity planning and scheduling package which is already providing benefits in machine loading and capacity scheduling. Data collection systems have been installed which are expected to save a considerable amount of manual data entry and administration with direct links into the accounting software; - The Technical Assistance Services departments information has been re-organised to allow all the technicians to manage and access the same information quickly. The application now runs on a network, accessing data stored on the servers with three main modules: Contacts, Requests, Interventions, Lists and Historical Data. As the application includes the technical data and the history of breakdowns of each machine or group of similar machines, the technician is able to work much more effectively when the customer has a problem. As a result of the project work, the partners have significantly reduced lead-times and increased the ability to run machine systems for longer periods unmanned. As new investments are introduced in future years, the benefits of these technologies will be realised further to extend unmanned operation during unsocial hours and to reduce operating costs.