Machine operators, engineers, technicians, and welders are essential positions in the manufacturing job shop. The education, experience, and skill required to do their work have been recognized among their peers on the plant floor. Apart from the more distinguished jobs associated with steel plate fabrication, some positions have yet to rank above the menial task level. Manual parts cleaners have fallen into this category.
In heavy industry contract manufacturing facilities like ours, this task translated to dozens of employees physically grinding slag from oxy cut or plasma cut parts. Their work required hand grinding, filing, and deburring heavy industrial parts, as well as moving, counting, and stacking them on pallets or shipping containers several times a day; every day.
While productivity in the parts cleaning department could be challenging, O’Neal Manufacturing Services’ Greensboro, NC fabrication center looked for ways to improve employee engagement, efficiency, and safety in this vital production area. With the purchase of LISSMAC automated deslagging and edge preparation equipment, the Greensboro plant managed to accomplish all three; and has served as an example for other OMS facilities to follow.
The Old Way
Manual parts cleaning was not just a dirty job, it was also a physical one. Heavy steel plates were manually unloaded from the cutting tables at a steady pace and positioned on the ground for staging. Next, they were hoisted up to a grinding table where the slag was manually removed. Each part was flipped over to repeat the process on both sides, then shifted to a holding area. Parts were picked back up again for edge conditioning before finally being staged, packaged, and loaded up for the customer. Aside from the repetitive fatigue, large industrial parts sometimes weighed up to 400 pounds apiece which added a substantial physical burden to the process.
The New Way
With the addition of automated finishing equipment, parts can now be loaded directly from the plasma cutting table to the newly installed LISSMAC SBM-M D2 where they are simultaneously machined on both sides. No more part flipping is required. Dross and slag are removed in one pass resulting in a smooth and safe edge. This efficient process eliminated the exterior oxide layer, improved the surface quality of the parts, and greatly reduced the need for manual parts handling.
A second machine was installed to perform automated grinding and edge-rounding. The LISSMAC SBM-XL G252 rounded the inside and outside contours of cut parts in a single pass, eliminated manual adjustment, and produced consistent and repeatable results.
To further minimize overall parts handling and improve employee safety, 125 ft. of conveyor equipment was installed between the cutting lines, the deslagging machine, and the grinding device and delivered finished parts all the way to their final holding location.
“Things are totally different in our parts cleaning area now,” said Matt Moon, General Manager of OMS Greensboro. “The group we have in there now are not trying to get out of parts cleaning. They like running the LISSMAC. It’s been a dramatic improvement there.”
This capital investment performed wonders to alleviate the opinion that parts cleaning was one of the less desirable jobs in the plant. Read more about O’Neal Manufacturing Services’ automated finishing equipment and its impact on production and safety in this article from The FABRICATOR.