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Case Study

CDP Diamond Products, Inc.

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Problem

CDP Diamond Products is a diamond tool manufacturer, a process that yielded excessive cycle times. In some cases, the process took approximately three hours to produce two tools.

Solution

Methods designed, created, tested and integrated e a custom turnkey automation cell comprised of a FANUC CRX collaborative robot, two FANUC C600iA RoboCuts, and an infeed/outfeed system.


Results

  • Productivity on the RoboCuts increased 75%
  • The cell runs unattended on nights and weekends
  • CDP Diamond Products received more work, which necessitated additional manufacturing shifts.

Company

CDP Diamond Products, Inc.


Location

Livonia, Mich.


Website

http://cdpdiamond.com/


Cobot Gives Wire EDM Shop More Jobs, More Shifts, and More Throughput

Three hours is a long time. It’s enough time to watch “The Godfather.” More than enough time to fly from Detroit, Mich. to central Texas, and just long enough to cook a mid-sized turkey. But in all that time, one machine at CDP Diamond Products can only produce one tool, depending on the job.

CDP Diamond Products, headquartered in Livonia, Mich., is a diamond tool manufacturer that specializes in wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) for a variety of industries. Polycrystalline diamonds (PCD) and polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN) are some of the hardest materials on earth.

Cutting them is even harder. Machines and tools wear out quickly, and excessive cycle times often complicate already intricate processes.

Steve Dillon, Vice President of CDP Diamond Products, wanted to increase throughput using the latest technology, but knew he couldn’t shave a single second off of the three-hour cycle time.

“You have to keep up with the times,” he said. “Because if you don’t keep up with the times, the times are going to pass you by. And you still have to be competitive.”

Dillon reached out to his longtime machine tool supplier Kevin Fite, the General Manager for Methods Machine Tools’ Wixom, Mich. location. Fite and others at Methods have been working with CDP Diamond Products for more than two decades, supplying the shop with FANUC’s wire EDM product, the RoboCut. Today, Dillon estimates RoboCuts account for half of the machinery on the shop floor.

The RoboCuts have delivered better finishes, fewer wire breaks, reduced cycle times, and don’t need as much maintenance compared to Dillon’s other machines.

“It did pretty much everything,” Dillon said. “If something’s working that good, you don’t go somewhere else. Especially given the support I’ve gotten from Methods.”

When it came time to increase throughput at CDP Diamond Products, Fite and Dillon knew the answer was automation.

Methods worked with CDP Diamond Products to design, create, test, and integrate a custom turnkey automation cell comprised of a FANUC CRX collaborative robot, two FANUC C600iA RoboCuts, and an infeed/outfeed system.

Initially, not everyone else at CDP Diamond Products was on the same page. CDP Diamond primarily engages in high-mix/low-volume work. Some employees were not convinced Methods could automate the toolmaking process, or that automation was the answer.

Once the chips started flying, however, the staff at CDP Diamond Products realized the benefits of automation.

Collaborative Robot

The collaborative robot with a FANUC RoboCut.

“That thing has done nothing but boost my throughput,” Dillon said. By his estimation, the automation cell increased productivity by 75% on the RoboCuts. The shop runs the cell unattended on nights and weekends. While the three-hour cycle times remain, CDP Diamond Products accomplishes more while competitors’ shops are closed.

“I’m getting more work because I’m able to produce more,” Dillon said.

The company has received so much more work, some employees are coming in on weekends to ensure the cell is set for the next production cycle. And operators at CDP Diamond Products can address other problems while the automation system produces high-tolerance tools.

“My operators can now spend their time inspecting tools instead of manually changing tools and parts. We didn't have to shut down anything. It was a smooth transition."

Steve Dillon | Vice President, CDP Diamond Products

While the technology and products Methods has offered over the years kept Dillon coming back, the relationship between the two companies goes deeper. Having a Methods branch close to CDP Diamond Products has been beneficial. If Dillon needs support or service, Methods shows up on time and ready to solve his problems. Moreover, Dillon said, its Methods’ industry expertise and technical knowledge that have helped CDP Diamond Products reach new levels.

“Methods has helped my company grow,” he said. “It’s just been a terrific experience.”

As for the shop’s future, Dillon and others at CDP Diamond Products are looking to take full advantage of the automation cell by taking on new contracts.

“It’s been a win-win for everyone,” he said. “We’re motivated to get more out of the cell. Bring it on.”