Golden State Innovations (GSI) is a small, two-person shop in Silicon Valley, one of the most competitive areas in the world for startups. Armed with a single CNC lathe and a vertical machining center (VMC), GSI needed to be innovative to battle the larger jobs shops. The following story demonstrates how a small shop can reap the benefits of automation.
GSI's journey into automation began when owner Patrick Wisco left his job at a prominent medical device manufacturer, purchased a Haas VF-2 with a TRT-160 5-Axis trunnion table, and acquired a space just big enough for two machines. Because of his previous experience and reputation, Patrick landed a large contract with a medical device company. The job required the production of a family of parts that were similar in size and required milling on four to six sides. Using a standard three-axis VMC would require flipping each part 4 to 6 times. But GSI owner, programmer, and machinist Patrick Wisco could not afford to take a traditional manufacturing approach; he needed to get innovative.
First, Patrick consolidated all three part numbers into one stock size to increase efficiency. Next, he harnessed the 5-Axis capabilities of the Haas TRT-160, re-programming the part to be machined in two operations, reducing the time & error of handling the workpiece during 4 to 6 setups. But Patrick was not satisfied with producing only one part at a time, so he designed a tombstone to allow him to machine four workpieces, maximizing spindle time between part changeovers. This was still not enough; for Patrick was not just responsible for production but also for dealing with customers, picking up materials and tools, delivering parts, quoting, sweeping the floor, and everything else involved in running a business…. In his 8-10 hour day, he produced anywhere from 10-35 parts with no consistency. GSI needed automation to survive and a partner who could help them succeed.
Patrick contacted Selway Machine Tool Co., the local Haas Factory Outlet in Northern California, to discuss automation. Working with his local rep Jordan Hill and our Trinity Robotics Automation team, he quickly identified a solution that resulted in his purchase of a Trinity AX1. The Compact Automated Pallet System had everything GSI needed to tackle the critical contract. With a Max Part Size of ∅8" x 9"H, a Max Payload of 17 lbs, and 28 pallets, the AX1 was perfect for small medical device parts. In addition, at only 46.7" wide, the compact pallet system could fit snuggly in GSI's small shop, taking up as much space as a standard tooling cart.
After a week-long install and integration to their Haas VF-2 w/TRT-160, the Automated Production System was ready to run, and the results were staggering. The Trinity AX1/Haas VF-2 system produced 122 parts per day, a drastic improvement from the 30 parts they manufactured with the standalone VF-2 w/TRT-160. This modern aggressive approach resulted in GSI running unattended for 377 hours straight, spending only 15-16 hours loading/unloading pallets. "It was a make-it-or-break-it moment," stated Patrick, "and it worked."
The time saved from reduced setups and unattended production enabled Patrick to optimize GSI's process. "The AX1 allowed me to be creative, build fixtures in the middle of the run, and push the limits of the system," relayed Wisco. By reducing costs and increasing efficiency, GSI has been able to stay competitive & grow their business. Since the time of the article, they have moved to a larger building, acquired more CNC's & are looking at purchasing their second AX system
Take a look at the ROI on Golden State Innovations AX1 investment below. Note: These savings do not take into account the redundant tooling necessary for four machines and floor space costs (GSI is in San Carlos, Ca, where the industrial space costs $30/sq ft, higher than 99% of the Country!).