Less Inserts Turn Into More Savings
Sometimes the ideal solution developed in a lab does not always translate to the best solution on the production floor. Such was the case with a large global medical device manufacturer and bone screw threading operation, but they just didn’t know it yet. GWS Application Specialist Audrea Triplett and National Key Account Manager Travis Coomer were called in, but not to improve cycle times, but rather to see if they could help replicate and produce the current competitor’s inserts with better delivery times. It seems this European manufacturer had lead times of more than 8 weeks, which was causing supply chain issues and machine stoppages. Once Audrea and Travis dug into the application, they discovered delivery time wasn’t the only thing they could save this medical customer.
Bone screws of all different sizes and work materials, including Titanium 6Al4V, 304 stainless and Cobalt-chrome. The current process to create the external screw utilized an 8-insert whirling cartridge. Four inserts for roughing and four inserts for finishing the thread, to simultaneously rough and finish a complete thread. On paper, it all appeared as a smart solution that would surely see greater insert life on the finishing inserts and ultimately lead to reduced consumable insert costs. However, Audrea quickly noted that when applied in an actual production environment, this theoretical savings did not play out at all.
Aside from the lead time issue, Audrea noted the bigger problem (and opportunity) was the process itself. Due to the shear value of time, stopping the machine to change inserts was expensive, and therefore limited to one change every other day. Tracking finishing and roughing inserts just wasn’t manageable across dozens of machines, and stopping to replace just the roughing inserts separate from finishing inserts was definitely not cost effective. This led to the manufacturer having to change all inserts, which meant finish inserts were not run to life and they were ultimately consuming more inserts (8 inserts for every 1000 parts).
Audrea reached out to the GWS engineering team, and a solution combining a 6-cage cartridge with our ZOMBIE WHIRLERTM inserts was designed. This proprietary insert combined the latest substrate, geometry and customized PVD nano coating technology. Even with two less inserts, our engineers were confident that the combination of the premium insert design and full insert utilization would yield a cost-savings.
After some convincing, the customer agreed to test out the solution and GWS delivered completed inserts for testing in one week, 1/8 of the time of the European competitor! While the competitor still hadn’t delivered their backordered inserts, the test results from GWS were already available. Tool life versus the competitor increased 112%! With the tool price for the end user remaining unchanged, the improved tool life and two fewer inserts produced a 33.5% cost savings, which for just that part was $18,204! In addition to the hard savings, other savings were realized from faster tools changes via a more user-friendly insert cartridge and an insert cartridge that could be used across multiple different screw sizes. The final cost-savings was $25,764 (37%) for this singular bone screw size.
In the end, the customer asked for better delivery, and GWS delivered improved tool life, faster tool changes, greater product versatility and yes…much better delivery. From design engineers to our sales teams, everyone worked with the customer to create the optimal solution for the customer. With a strong customer relationship, fostered by local support and technical expertise, Audrea is now being given the opportunity to apply the ZOMBIE WHIRLERTM across the entire facility.
Want to try out our ZOMBIE WHIRLERTM and see how our inserts can save you time and money? Click here to request a free test tool today! If you want to find the perfect tool for another application, schedule a visit with a GWS application specialist by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-GWS-TOOL (1-877-497-8665) to see how our custom solutions can benefit your manufacturing process today!
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