Looking back over the history of the company, plant operations manager Dan Hogge says the shop has made a dramatic change roughly once every seven years. The move from screw machines to CNC was one of the earlier shifts. Embracing lights-out machining is the latest.
The move to unattended production for Hogge Precision Parts (Hartsville, S.C.) began with the recession of 2007-2008, when the CNC bar-fed production shop’s largest customer was hit hard. The shop’s staff of 70 was cut to 29, and those remaining often worked only 24 hours per week.
When business returned in 2009, the shop had just purchased its first CNC Swiss-type machine, and while this machine was booked through the day, it went unused at night. So management figured out how to utilize the machine unattended, and the first attempt went well. However, the shop had a lot to learn. Previously invisible problems (glitches) became visible quickly, and needed to be fixed, and process changes needed to be made.
To learn how Hogge Precision Parts transitioned from a fully tended machine shop to a lean shop with lights-out machining, read “From Aggravation to Lights-Out Production.”