Would Your Shop Benefit from a Multitasking Machine?

David Fischer

Multitasking machines give shops a leg up with their ability to produce precision parts with increased accuracy and efficiency. Their "done-in-one" concept makes complicated parts possible for any size shop or industry – not just large operations with deep-pockets. In fact, smaller shops can benefit more from multitasking due to their smaller floor capacity and more limited resources. Getting the most value out of multitasking machines means investing in the functionality that your operation needs and being sure to use those functions correctly.

Okuma multitasking half1

SIZE DOESN’T MATTER

Investing in a multitasking machine is costly, which can be a challenge for smaller shops looking to make a purchase within budget. However, small shops often produce a large number of varied parts and therefore need more functionality and flexibility on their floor. For that reason, smaller shops are driving a lot of multitasking sales today. While part of that may be from the price point going down, a much larger part is that small shops have realized the huge efficiency boost that multitasking can bring to the table. Faster setups, reduced fixturing costs, improved part accuracy, and shortened lead times are all advantages of multitasking machines.

While small shops are seeing an increasingly positive return, it doesn’t rule out the huge advantage multitasking can provide for medium to large shops. In the machine world, there is a broad array of features and technologies machines can provide. In multitasking especially, options are available in abundance. There are many different levels of multitasking machines with each level offering a more advanced capability than the next, including multi-spindle, multi-turret or even simultaneous 5-axis machining in some cases. Multitasking machines offer the flexibility that large operations may need, making them invaluable to any size shop.

EACH INDUSTRY HAS ITS OWN BENEFITS

Multitasking machines are also an excellent choice for low volume customization, prototyping and quick turn-around. While they’re not necessarily built for extreme high production, they are a great way to increase accuracy and spindle uptime for a wide range of production requirements because they don’t require repeated setups. For these reasons, multitasking machines are great for specialized parts in industries such as the medical, automotive, and aerospace industries, as well as for many job shops.

It can be challenging to make parts for the medical industry. Shops that specialize in medical parts are often faced with creating intricate, small and/or customized features that must be extremely accurate. Not only that but each part can vary depending on the patient and their usage. Producing this type of work typically requires multiple machines with different capabilities, which requires additional floor space. However, when you introduce a machine that incorporates every function you need in one, operators can get parts finished in a single setup, without having to deal with transferring the part from machine to machine minimizing human error and production delays.

Similarly, the aerospace industry has incredibly tough requirements. Aerospace manufacturers must efficiently produce high precision parts, often made from difficult to machine materials. Multitasking adds a layer of ease to aerospace’s complex part production. Using multitasking technology means these parts can be created in a minimal number of processes, reducing operator intervention and parts handling, thereby increasing uptime and accuracy.

Okuma multitasking jobshop

Job shops are another segment that can profit from the advantages of multitasking due to their flexibility and capabilities. Although costing more than traditional machine tools, multitasking machines can save on tooling and fixturing costs, setup time, and work-in-process. Many job shops produce an incredibly wide variety of parts, from automotive to medical to aerospace, and everything in between and multitasking machines can get those jobs done accurately with a single machine. Multitasking machines can seem like a big leap of faith financially, or often, a paradigm shift for smaller shops, but, with proper implementation and training, reaping the advantages of a multitasking machine can be achieved in almost any shop large or small.

Overall, multitasking machines are a huge benefit to your shop if you’re looking for an efficient and accurate way to produce high mix, low to mid-volume parts as well as specialty and customized parts.

The combined capabilities of multitasking machines can open a world of possibilities regardless of shop size or industry. If you think your shop could benefit from a multitasking machine, but you’re not sure where to start, contact your local distributor today. They can provide clarity on what multitasking functions will work best for your operation, as well as key controls for getting the most out of your machine.

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