Back in 1992 Tony Staub broke the Golden Rule of Machining: he walked away from an operating machine. He nervously waited in the break room for 10 minutes. When he came back, his machine was still working fine. As time went on, he left the machine operating alone for more and more time. He saw a great opportunity, and decided to embrace this new unattended machining philosophy.
All of our machining centers are set up to run unattended. When we leave the shop and turn out the lights, our machines are still running and making parts. Many of our machines are still making parts in the morning when we return. This is “Lights-Out Manufacturing” at its finest.
With less than 30 employees, we are able to ship over 100,000 parts per week. Our staff only runs one shift, but our machines run all three. It’s working out pretty well so far.
Here are three principles which have led to our success in Lights-Out Manufacturing:
It is great to be in control. At Staub Incorporated, I guess you could call us control freaks. In our business though, that is a good thing. There is nothing more important than being in control of the processes that we use to manufacture our parts. When we can make parts with consistent results and our machining outcomes follow predictable patterns, our machinists and production support staff have a sense of whether or not they are in control. When we have achieved the feeling of control over a job, we are ready to ramp up production and take advantage of the equipment that we have.
2. Equipment Investment
You need the right equipment in order to make this work. We can’t afford downtime or unreliable machines, so we only purchase the best equipment for our applications. In fact, we’ve had to modify most of the machines that we have in our shop. Each of our 14 lathes have a bar feeder and a part unloading system. All machines have chip conveyors and coolant chillers. Four robots unload, wash, and pack parts without ever taking a break. We have three linear pallet pools in which work holdings are cycled through 13 horizontal mills. All of this equipment was purchased and modified with one thing in mind: production.
3. Choose the right work
Because we’ve geared our shop for production, small runs are no longer practical for us. We need to be able to take advantage of our unmanned operations to be successful. In order to be profitable, our machines have to show green lights when the shop lights go out. Since moving in the Lights-Out direction, we haven’t looked back.
4. Pass along the savings
Lights-out manufacturing allows us to be extremely efficient. We don’t need to pay for labor while our machines are making parts, and that cost savings is significant. Many companies would be tempted put those savings in their pockets. At Staub Incorporated, we believe in sharing those savings with our customers. This company was built on relationships and trust. Our customers can count on us to give them fair and honest pricing for the parts that we produce.
Our staff sets up jobs, loads material, monitors tooling, and then lets the machining and turning centers work their magic. The synergy between man and machine at Staub is on the cutting edge of Advanced Manufacturing. We’d love to show you around our facilities and tell you more about what sets us apart! Give us a call and we’ll set something up.