Reducing setup time with quick-change tools can save shops an hour per day in production time, a figure that can translate to $20,000-per-year, per-lathe in savings.

Despite more than 30 years of market data showing quick-change tooling can save more than an hour per shift, per lathe (a figure that can save $20,000 per lathe, per year by lowering labor costs and increasing machine uptime), many shops continue to use standard tools that require slow, painstaking setup and changeover times.

As tooling companies, it’s our job to better educate the customer, machine tool distributor, and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) about the benefits of quick-change. Many machine tool distributors have integrated tooling specialists to help the customer buy and implement tooling to make the machine more productive. However, others don’t want to get involved in that side of the business.

Also, because quick-change tools are more expensive up front, some machine tool distributors focus instead on less costly options to keep overall prices low – ignoring the operational savings won by reducing non-machining time.

For 2020, Benz is working to change perceptions by making quick-change systems the standard and only offering traditional ER collets upon request. That change should make quick-change more visible at the start of the product-specification process when manufacturers buy the equipment needed to perform new work.

Many machine tool distributors focus on selling machine tools, and the tooling becomes an afterthought. Rather than optimize every step of the process for the customer’s application, some distributors stick to proven, standard tools. Unless a customer asks specifically about tool-change times, collet options don’t typically enter the conversation.

Leaving tooling purchases up to the customer or tooling salesman at the end of the sale means decisions are made too late – the machine and tools have already been purchased. The customer has been unknowingly forced on the path to lose more than $20,000-per-year, per-lathe, in company profits.

Benz Solidfix tooling systems for angle heads, live tools, and static tools allow 15-second tool changes, reducing non-machining time and setups.

Quick-change benefits

Quick-change tooling has been around since the mid-1980s when Kennametal developed the KM quick-change system. In 1990, Sandvik Coromant introduced the CAPTO quick-change tooling system. Both targeted turning, milling, and drilling applications. In 2012, Benz introduced Benz Solidfix, a 15-second quick-change tooling system for live tools, static tools, and angle heads.

Regardless of the system, quick-change tooling can improve productivity and increase profitability for manufacturers in several ways.

Reduced setup

  • Unless you are running high production, leave tools mounted in the turret and only change the preset adapters; setups can be reduced by 1-to-2 hours.
  • On low-production applications, turret index time is not as important as setup reduction. You are most likely to finish the production run in less time than it takes to set up the lathe.

Broken, worn tool replacement

  • Preset adapters can be replaced in 15 seconds instead of up to 10 minutes per tool.
  • Tool presetting is done off the lathe, saving two minutes per tool compared to using the lathe presetter.
  • Tool replacement is often done by someone other than the operator. Waiting on this person creates costly downtime.

Quick-change for static, live tools

  • Don’t exclude static tools when considering quick-change. Turning, threading, grooving, and cutoff tools seldom change but do need inserts replaced. More common needs for quick-change on static tools are boring bars, reamers, drills, and taps.

Lowers tooling costs, eliminates tools with dedicated spindles

  • Tools with mill arbor, Weldon, whistle notch, and different sizes and styles of collet chucks are too costly to use once or twice a year.

Turret safety

  • Changing a tool in the collet in the lathe in any position other than the driven position will damage the inside of the turret. Many lathe operators don’t know this or ignore it, putting your company at risk for high maintenance cost.
  • Quick-change tools can be changed in any turret position as there are no forces passed to the tang to damage the inside of the turret.

Operator safety

  • Adapters can be exchanged safely with one hand.
  • There’s no risk of a collet wrench slipping off the tool and the operator getting injured from adjacent tooling as the quick-change adapters are assembled and preset outside the lathe.
  • Eliminates operator risk when reaching into large lathes to install tools in the turret; avoids loss of balance and possible falls when dealing with heavy tools.

Lowers capital spending on additional machinery

  • Allows increased productivity on existing equipment.
A Benz technician installs Solidfix tools on an automatic tool changer (ATC). With presetters, technicians can ready new tools while the machine is operating then quickly swap out units.

Conclusion

Most cost-benefit analyses of quick-change tooling focus entirely on setup and changeover time reductions. While important, that misses operator safety, machine tool safety, and lower capital spending benefits. At Benz, our philosophy is that any job that can use quick-change tooling should use it, and we’re changing our product lineup to match that outlook.

Benz Inc. https://www.benztooling.com

About the author: John Roasa is national sales manager at Benz Inc. He can be reached at sales@benz-inc.com.