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February 2014 

JWA Tooling endorse MicroLoc

Micron Workholding is a great believer in the power of online media, that's why recently we took the chance to visit one of our clients with in order to find out exactly what they think about our product.

JWA Tooling have been a MicroLoc user for a decade and specialise in precision component manufacture for various industries including developing their own machine tools.

John Wood Managing Director, commented about our system:

'The MicroLoc is so flexible, it enables us to be able to quickly change from job to job. In a subcontract environment it is so important to be able to react quickly to the demands of our customers, the MicroLoc helps us achieve this.

'We produce various size plates and with the MicroLoc we can move the vices and locators on the grid plate allowing us to clamp differing sizes. It really is a great system that has provided years of stable and reliable clamping for our company.'

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JWA Tooling endorse MicroLoc

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November 2013 

MicroLoc System at Goodturn

With batch sizes varying from one offs’ to 5,000 at any one time, employees at Goodturn Engineering Ltd found the tightening and releasing of its workholding vices tiresome and repetitive – until the introduction of the MicroLoc 75 Series Power Station Workholding System from MicroLoc.

The Redditch based general subcontractor has a CNC turning and milling section with four Haas CNC machining centres that manufacture anything from floating candles used in a well known film to parts for classic cars/motorcycles, health and aerospace industries. It is the milling section that came under scrutiny when regular batches from a few hundred to a couple of thousand parts gave the shopfloor staff difficulty with continually clamping components.

Goodturn Director, Mr Philip Eaves comments: “We were operating vices like many manufacturers, but it wasn’t feasible with our regular batch production, so we visited the MACH show in 2006 and found MicroLoc and in particular their MicroLoc 75 Series Power Station. The benefits were explained to us and we were initially sceptical, but we could see the potential benefits and decided to invest. We bought two systems and now, we wish we made the move sooner as the system has been a revelation to our company and the benefits have been remarkable.”

The immediate benefit to Goodturn was improvements in component accuracy with regards to repetition. The case-hardened jaws are ground to ±10 microns relative to the tenon keys and the base plates hold a system repeatability accuracy of ±25 microns over a one metre length. When this was combined with the vice stops and more recently the purpose made jaws for specific projects, accuracy and repeatability improved measurably.

However, it was the productivity that made the biggest impact on Goodturn’s business as Mr Eaves continues: “We noticed an immediate impact on our batch production and it is estimated that we save at least one days production each week credit to the MicroLoc system. The new system is a case of hitting a button to tighten and loosen a part from the jaws and the time this saves in comparison to manually tightening and loosening a vice handle is remarkable.”

An example of the production gains at Goodturn can be noted on a heavy duty brass component that is manufactured in regular batches of 300 per month. Producing 60 parts a day with a cycle time of 6.5 minutes per part, the company is now saving two minutes per part in changeovers with the new hydraulic MicroLoc system. This equates to two hours a day and a full 10 hours a week. Goodturn calculates that this one job alone will pay for the system within two years without taking into account the significant savings made on alternate parts.

With one particular steel windscreen wiper gauge component, Goodturn produces regular batches of 200 parts. The changeover time with the MicroLoc system is approximately 5 seconds compared to the previous time of 30 seconds. Whilst this saving is less than the brass part it is still considerable when machining regular batches as Mr Eaves states: “The manual chuck had a changeover time of 30 seconds, however this would increase throughout the day as the staff became fatigued. By the end of the shift the actual changeover time would be more like a minute or longer. After all, a machine can work non-stop without fatigue and this is not the case for the human element.”

“Fatigue is also an issue with regard to health and safety and this was something we were aware of. As a small company with 8 employees, the directors also work on the shop floor and appreciate the strain caused by loosening and tightening vices all day long. With Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) common in the workplace we wanted to stamp out any possibility of this – the MicroLoc has solved this issue,” continues Mr Eaves.

Another issue with manual fatigue is the inconsistency of pressure when clamping parts. As staff becomes strained and tired, the effort exerted on a manual vice may fall throughout the day whereas the MicroLoc maintains a consistent clamping pressure every time. With an adjustable clamping pressure up to 1.25 tonnes (350bar), the MicroLoc is as comfortable clamping hard material components that demand heavy intermittent machining as it is with holding delicate plastic parts without causing marking.

Goodturn has seven hydraulic vices that can simultaneously fit on the MicroLoc 75 Series for multiple part machining. The hydraulic fittings are connected to a pneumatic compressor located outside the machining envelope that does not obstruct the working area and the operator.

As Mr Eaves says: “We often set up multiple vices and jobs, which in turn reduce production times. With regard to set-up, it is just a case of linking additional manifolds and this takes no time at all. Once we have our zero offsets programmed into the machine we can change over jobs and programmes remarkably quickly.”

“As a forward thinking subcontractor we have invested in four Haas machining centres in five years and if our type of work permitted it, I would have the MicroLoc system on every machine. It has been a revelation to our business. It has improved cycle times, accuracy, repeatability, quality and above all reduced the strain on our workforce,” concludes Mr Eaves.

Adding to the comments of Mr Eaves, MicroLoc’s Mr Matt Janess adds: “You can have the fastest, most expensive and most productive machine tool on the market at your disposal but if your ‘non-cutting’ times are lengthy due to set-ups, all the benefits of a world class machine go out of the window. The application at Goodturn demonstrates the benefits of good workholding practices with regard to productivity, repetition, accuracy and quality.”

MicroLoc System at Goodturn

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