Our guest blog this week comes from CPM Industries, a leading manufacturer of prototype, short-run, and low-volume castings in ferrous and non-ferrous alloys. 

CPM-logoThe manufacturing industry and every company within the industry relies on some type of machine or tool to be successful. CPM Industries lies within the manufacturing industry and is a perfect example of a company that relies on a machine. CPM Industries is a privately held, ISO Certified, company located in the greater Chicago area that produces turnkey prototype and short-run production parts for its clients using a method known as sand casting. Sand casting involves creating a mold, or pattern, of the part to be created and using that mold to form the shape of the part in sand. The sand is chemically bonded allowing the sand to hold the shape of the part long after the pattern is removed. Once the desired shape is in the sand, molten metal is poured into the sand and allowed to cool forming the shape of the desired part (there is much more to the sand casting process than explained, for further details on sand casting please visit our website).

At CPM Industries, we rely heavily on our Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Machines as they are used for multiple steps throughout the production process. We use our CNC Machines to produce the pattern (model) and after the part is produced from the pattern, the final machining is performed on the part using the same CNC Machines. As you can see, CNC Machines play a big role in our production process and keeping those machines up and running is vital to our success. In order to keep the machines running properly, a series of regular maintenance is performed on the CNC machines. It is not only vital to our production that we maintain our machines, but it is also required by our ISO Certification to regularly maintenance the machines. At CPM, we perform maintenance on the mechanical aspects of the machine quarterly to help prevent breakdowns. The quarterly maintenance also satisfies the requirement from the ISO certification to maintain properly functioning machines.

Similar to any other machine, CNC machines have numerous gauges to provide the operator with feedback as to how the machine is performing. These gauges must be precisely accurate because in our industry, even 1/10 of an inch can be the difference between a completed part and a scrapped part. Unlike the mechanical aspect of the machine, the gauges do not need to be checked quarterly. Depending on the gauge and what it is monitoring determines the length of time between maintenance. If a gauge is found to be inaccurate, there are two options to solve the problem. Depending on the age of the gauge and the application in which it is used, the gauge can be recalibrated so that it reads accurately. If the gauge is past its given time of use, or it cannot be successfully recalibrated, the gauge must be replaced with a new one. Once the gauge has been recalibrated or replaced, it is required that the gauge be properly labeled with the appropriate tag confirming the gauge is working properly.

When machining a completed part or machining a hogout, coolant is needed to reduce heat and lubricate the cutting tool. If coolant is not used when machining metal, the resulting heat can deform the part or even destroy the cutting tool. Similar to the gauges, there is no set time frame to maintain the coolant in the machines. The coolant can both be filtered and reused in the machine, or if the coolant has already been reused, it will be replaced with fresh coolant. The cutting tools themselves are replaced as needed; each cutting tool wears differently depending on the material that it is cutting.

CPM operates and maintains other machines as well such as table saws, band saw, lathes, drill press, disc grinders, a wood planer, compound miter saw, forklift, and two air compressors. While we properly maintain all of our tools and machines, the air compressors and CNC Machines are the only ones we are required to routinely maintenance. The air compressors are used for a variety of things around the shop such as powering hand tools and machines to removing debris and dust. Just like our CNC Machines, the required minimum maintenance for our ISO certification is once per quarter. This not only helps prevent any breakdowns, but it also reassures our customers that we are using quality maintained machines and tools allowing us to produce the high quality parts they are looking for.

Even if it isn’t required, every company should properly maintain their machines and tools to help prevent breakdowns. Time spent fixing something that could have been prevented is time lost that could be used to produce parts and turn a profit. Time is money and more time spent producing rather than fixing equals more money in the bank.

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