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Capital Investment:
Developing CNC Machining Capability

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With confidence underpinned by the awarding of a major machining contract from Cummins Turbochargers, Nicholsons has invested in three new CNC machines: a Hyundai Kia SKT-21LM with Fanuc 21i-TB control (3 axis lathe used for small to medium sized complex turned parts with milled features) and two Takisawa EX-110 with Fanuc 21i-TB control (2 axis machine used for small to medium sized standard turned parts). This excellent machining facility now enables the company to offer similarly innovative machining solutions to other customers.


The machining investment comes as part of the creation of a fully re-designed CNC cell. Just In Time & Kanban material delivery and goods outwards. Shop Floor Quality Control carried out within the cell using specially designed jigs. Packing and despatch carried out within the cell cycle time. In fact the complete cell is designed to lean and six sigma principles to drive throughput and reduce cycle time.

Implementing the 'Kanban Cell'
The use of Kanban within the business delivers real benefits to both our customers and us. Kanban controls the WIP between workstations using visual signals. Our visual signals take the form of:
  • empty containers
  • empty floor spaces
  • electronic signal from the customer system straight to the machine cell
Appropriately implemented Kanban creates a pull from the customer back through the producer to the supplier.

Designing a CNC cell layout to lean principles

Nicholsons uses Kanban primarily in the following areas:
  • production kanban: a communication to to produce parts
  • withdrawal kanban: a communication to the stores to withdraw parts
  • material kanban: a communication to trigger purchases
Nothing is ever made unless the downstream process asks for it.

Kanban helps simplify planning and fine-tunes production to meet changing customers demands. The system requires planned weekly production schedules, which are aligned to 'takt' (Takt time can be defined as the maximum time allowed to produce a product in order to meet demand). Kanban simplifies day-to-day flexibility, and changes to the production schedules. The overall effect is to speed the flow through the process and hence reduce lead times. Thus the overall efficiency of the cell is raised.