Suburban Manufacturing, submfg.com

Despite the rough economy, a 30-year-old job shop is still going strong. According to Suburban Manufacturing in Eastlake, Ohio, its success has come from a combination of talented employees and the use of up-to-date technology. All workers are employee-owners, which gives them a big stake in the company’s success. The cutting-edge equipment includes an Okuma MA-500 horizontal machining center (HMC) and a Fastems 20-pallet management system.

Innovation comes from brainstorming different opinions and approaches to new jobs, says General Manager Nick Carlozzi. “We weigh all suggestions, model the design complete with tooling and fixturing on the computer, and then decide which direction to take,” he says. “This approach gives us a good first part 99% of the time.”

“Our machinists and operators can then make a well-designed, versatile, robust, and rigid machine tool such as the MA-500 10 times more productive, cut closer tolerance parts with finer finishes, and get a better tool life, as compared to other shops,” says Carlozzi.

A factor in selecting the Okuma was that the shop already had a 25-year-old MC 50 still producing high-tolerance parts, says Carlozzi. “We selected the new HMC because it sports a 31-in. work envelope for cutting larger parts,” he says.

The shop is currently moving a job fixtured with four vises on a VMC to the new Okuma, says Carlozzi. “This will let us run 12 parts at a time, lights out, without adding labor costs.”

Carlozzi says the shop relies more and more on HMCs because the pallet changer lets it almost eliminate idle spindle time. (The spindle turns even during pallet changes.) “We do all loading and unloading outside the Okuma MA-500, while the machine is running,” he says. “Further, the machine allows cutting parts in a single setup, which slashes setup time and helps eliminates process variability from refixturing parts.”

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