King Machine, LLC had always done aerospace work but for older airplane programs that were drawing based. They didn’t have the ability to work effectively with newer, digital only programs designed in CATIA. “The company needed an upgrade in technology and tools to compete on newer airplane programs,” explained Dale Lyski, Vice President and General Manager, King Machine, LLC, and went on, “The first thing we did after the sale was complete was invest in technology. We purchased CATIA, VERICUT and a Brown & Sharpe CMM.”
Achieving better machining efficiency
“We don’t actively pursue turning only jobs,” said Lyski and added, “We focus on what we do best – high speed machining of large aluminium structures.” Structural aerospace parts for the fuselage, leading edge, trailing edge and wing fill up the 13 CNC machining centres in the 26,000 sq ft facility in Mukilteo, Washington. The first new machine added to the shop floor was a Matsuura MAM72-100H. It’s a five axis, high speed horizontal, with 240 tools and a 42” work envelope. They also added a Fastems cell with 20 pallets and two loading stations.
“We sold out the capacity on the Matsuura rather quickly,” commented Lyski and continued, “So, we added a second Matsuura MAM72-100H to the 20 pallet cell. The two machines share the Fastems system and there is room for a further expansion of ten more pallets and one more five axis machine.” As the number of orders increased, Rick Huffman, Production Manager, King Machine, LLC, saw the need for a slightly smaller machine. “Not all the new orders were suited for the larger Matsuura 5 axis machines,” he explained and went on, “To achieve better machining efficiency on some of the smaller parts, we purchased a four axis dual pallet Makino, a 51nx horizontal to take up the task. We are near reaching capacity on that machine already but are ready to add a second one next to the first.” Most of the parts built are shipped to tier 1 Boeing suppliers.
Success with VERICUT
One of the first calls King Machine’s new ownership made was to CG Tech’s Scott Michalek. Lyski asserted, “Our opinion is that VERICUT is the best of its kind on the market, and it is a product our programmers have experience using. We’ve always had great success using it and can’t imagine using anything else. No investment in technology is complete without it.”
John Madison and Dave Jennings are King Machine’s programing Gods and echo Lyski’s thoughts about VERICUT. According to Jennings, with the complexity of modern aerospace components and the speed of the machines, it is 100% mandatory to have tool path verification in order to be able to do the work. King Machine uses VERICUT’s machine simulation for all the machines and finds it especially useful on the high-speed four and five axis milling centres. They model every tool, every nut, every bolt and every tombstone. “Not all the tombstones are the same,” cited Madison and went on, “They are different shapes with a variety of different fixtures and dimensions, so modelling them is essential to preserve the equipment. When one is rolling stuff around on five axis, one has to be aware of everything. A pretty standard practice in the estimating department is to put a part on a machine that is a tad larger than the machine’s work envelope. With everything modelled out on all our machines, we will know right away if it is even possible. We can spin the machine around manually and confirm if it is good to go.”
Bringing in effectiveness
Operators at King Machine won’t even run a part unless they are 100% positive that it was proved out in VERICUT first. “VERICUT gives us a lot more confidence in what we do,” divulged Jennings and went on, “It makes me a faster programmer because I know it will catch any errors. It allows us to do things, like be more aggressive on our rapid clearance planes, without worrying about making a mistake that could cost time and money.”
VERICUT doesn’t just assist the programmers, it instils confidence in the people operating and setting up the machines. “The guys in the shop never doubt that what we give them will work,” continued Madison, “There is no trial and error, only cutting on deliverable parts right out of the gate. The guys are doing set-ups on at least eight part numbers a day.”
Jennings and Madison use VERICUT’s simulation for more than just maximising cutting paths. Creating inspection sketches and reviewing run time budgets are easily done right from the VERICUT software. “It takes only a few minutes to generate an inspection sketch,” described Jennings and went on, “Click on a few features and it documents the dimensions of those features.”
Assisting in double-checking budgets
When King Machine quotes a job and is awarded a contract everything has a budget. Madison and Jennings double-check those budgets by using VERICUT. If estimating has 45 minutes in the budget but the simulation proves out at 55 minutes, they know to go back and see where the problem is. Sometimes the solution is to move it to another machine for better efficiency but sometimes not. As programmers, they always make it a point to beat the time given to them by the estimating department and 90% of the time they do thanks to VERICUT.
Growing with customer satisfaction
Going forward Lyski & King Machine’s goals are to fill the current machining centres to capacity and manage a consistent growth rate. “We have enough space to continue at this rate for another couple of years,” averred Lyski and added, “After that we might need to expand on this site or find a larger building. When companies get larger, they seem to let customer service falter. We don’t want to do business like that.”
King Machine focuses a lot of effort on customer satisfaction by supplying quality parts on time, at the lowest possible cost. “We are growing the business based on relationships and customer satisfaction. We want to do business the right way. We have no interest in selling out to a larger company. We are committed to growing this one and being a high quality, high precision shop, with unbeatable customer satisfaction,” concluded Lyski.
Courtesy: CGTECH India