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.
Tending a Brother TC32BN QT Vertical Mill
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.
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.
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.
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.