Case Study

Supplier of precision machined parts to enterprise manufacturers in oil & gas, commercial transportation, and defense achieves 24/6 output using a mobile robotic turnkey system powered by Forge/OS.

The Business

Harmonic Machine Inc. is a manufacturing company specializing in advanced machining. With 38 CNC machines, and a 22 year history, Harmonic is a key supplier for many manufacturers where precision machined parts are critical and tolerances are very tight, including: oil & gas, aerospace and defense, and commercial transportation.

TASK

Tending a Brother TC32BN QT Vertical Mill

The Challenge

Despite regularly adding new machines and expanding their team to meet growing demand, Harmonic once again found themselves running at maximum capacity. New growth opportunities with core clients couldn’t be achieved by running just two shifts. In addition, since their existing CNC machines were being fully utilized the biggest untapped potential was in the third shift where it is difficult to hire reliable machinists. They knew that automation was a possibility but were worried about how they could reprogram the robot every few days for part changeover when they had no in-house experience with robots. Integrators were not an option either because of the associated cost of this approach. They had to implement it themselves, and quickly.

The Solution

Harmonic sought an automation solution that could be quickly programmed and confidently managed by their existing team of machinists. It was the only way they could accommodate the frequent changeover between parts. They chose the Forge/Station running Forge/OS, due to the intuitive graphical interface that would make robotic programming accessible to their team. Their Forge/Station, with a Universal Robots UR10 arm and mobile base would allow them to handle a wide variety of part sizes, while still maintaining easy access to the machine tool for maintenance and changeouts. This solution would get them up and running quickly, accommodate frequent changeover, and ensure that their workcell stayed up and running with minimal interruption. It was the perfect solution to maximize output on their new workcell.

Quotes This is our first foray into automation, and it was a complete breeze. We had our Forge system programmed, and running parts in a matter of days.

Jerod Kuva
Machinist

The Result

Harmonic tasked their newest machinist to manage this automation project. Jerod Kuva, who had never programmed a robot before, owned the project from start to finish. He uncrated and installed the equipment, and programmed the robot and peripherals within the workcell - with no onsite support from READY. In fact, deployment was so easy, there wasn’t so much as a support phone call or email. Jerod had their automated workcell up and running in under 2 weeks. Highly optimized for efficiency, and fully controlled through Forge/OS, their finished workcell includes multiple pneumatic vices within the mill, a pneumatic door so the robot can quickly insert/remove parts, and a customized end effector featuring a Schunk 2-finger gripper, a pneumatic gripper, and an air hose for material evacuation.

Quotes I love the simplicity of the programming software. I certainly see us standardizing on Forge software, and using its power on future automation applications. I love the fact that we can use different robot manufacturers and retain the same programming language.

Nathan Neels
CEO

Most importantly, Harmonic’s Forge-powered workcell has enabled them to win new projects and grow their business with core clients. The ability for many of their machinists to rapidly switch between 20 pre-programmed projects has allowed their new mill to achieve nearly 100% machine utilization - even with changeover occurring every 3-5 days. It has been so successful that Harmonic is looking for the new opportunities to increase output and OEE on other machines with Forge-powered automation.

Highlights

Deployed with internal staff

No external support required, despite no prior robotics experience

Accommodate 20+ Jobs Easy changeover on demand with no interruption to production

Utilization Near 100% Due to fast changeover enabled by Forge/OS

Lights Out with No Issues System running 24/6 for a year with no issues

Quotes READY has allowed us to maximize throughput on our new CNC mill. Even though we have a changeover every 3-5 days, the rapid changeover afforded by Forge/OS enables a machine utilization of nearly 100%.

Jerod Kuva
Machinist