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4 Goals to Achieve a Precision Milling Center of Excellence

UMC recently purchased two new Okuma 4th Axis mills. These machines are the latest in a series of investments made to expand our milling department, which currently includes 25 mills. Here are some of the guiding principles we’ve used to build quality and efficiency in our milling department.

Select and Qualify for Quality

Our company values, the industries we serve, and the certifications we hold (AS9100D, ISO-13485, FDA Registered, ITAR Compliant, Nadcap Accreditation) require that quality be central to everything we do.

We choose the highest-performing machines from companies such as Okuma, Matsuura and DMG Mori because we’re looking for mills that can hold unmatched accuracies, as measured by advanced test and inspection equipment, including CMMS and optical systems. 

We also own and manage a stringent quality assurance system. The rigorous Installation Qualification (IQ) and Operational Qualification (OQ) processes ensure that the machines are running at factory specifications or better. Performance qualification (PQ) and preventative maintenance ensure that there is no deviation from the stringent quality specifications required for tight-tolerance work.

Add Speed and Flexibility Everywhere

We build speed and flexibility into every process, not only through the capabilities of the machines, but also with the strategy we use to bring them in and get them up and running.

We’ve intentionally purchased the same machine platform as we expand because we know that it will meet our high quality expectations and we can get it up and running quickly. In addition to buying machines with speeds of up to 24,000 RPM, we’ve incorporated automation robots and pallet-changing technologies within our milling department to further improve our production speed and flexibility.

Reduce Risk with Redundancy

Another benefit of buying two or three of the same machines is redundancy—which means we have backup for critical components or functions. We qualify the parts we run in more than one machine, using the same method of manufacturing. If one machine goes down, we still have the flexibility to maximize capacity. Building redundancy into our milling department ensures we will maintain uninterrupted supply, even in the event of an unexpected outage or failure, and continue to consistently manufacture high-quality products for our customers.

Actualize Automation

Smart automation lets us run more time unattended and maximize our skilled labor. Our machinists capitalize on pallet-changing technology by always having a pallet set up and ready to pull in while they’re working on other jobs. We can have multiple part numbers ready and manage different levels of complexity with the work setup, reducing reliance on the machinist while the job is running. We also employ Fanuc automation robots in some of our milling centers to complete loading and unloading operations and simulated Mechwash and De-burring cycles.

Monitoring automation is vital. Every machine that comes in is equipped with a Renishaw 4P touch probe and broken-tool detection, allowing for running more unattended and fully-automated hours.

With the rapid development of technology, we can never fully predict what a milling center of excellence will look like in the future. But we know from our past successes that focusing on these four goal areas will help us stay on the cutting edge of precision milling and stand ready to move our customers forward with quality and efficiency.