Original Date: 09/15/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Vacuum Clamping
United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division Aiken introduced Vacuum Clamping as an alternate method in securing plates to machine tables. This process eliminated the need for mechanical clamping, reduced set-up times, and decreased the average time required to complete a single job.
Previously, United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division (UDLP GSD) Aiken used a hard line clamp process that secured plates to the machine tables by using countless numbers of clamping components. As a result, set-up times were lengthy, frequent program stops occurred, workers’ errors increased, and the potential for operator injury existed. All areas were manually labeled indicating to the operator where to clamp, thus making the process tedious and complex, and contributing to increased process variables, accident exposure, high machine time, and manual set- up.
UDLP GSD Aiken introduced Vacuum Clamping as an alternate method to secure plates to machine tables. This process involved constructing fixture plates with air entry ports. A vacuum pump and piping system sucked air through the ports and clamped the parts to the fixture. Three types of fixtures are used in this process: Dedicated clamps a specific part of a group of parts to the machine table
Universal clamps parts of different sizes and shapes to the machine table
Button clamps parts that must be elevated to provide a clearance below a specific part and provides a better seal of all parts
All fixtures are vacuum operated with automated electronics, thereby reducing set-up time. The dedicated fixtures can be built at minimal cost. Universal fixtures encompass multiple parts, and can be readily produced. Both the dedicated and universal fixtures are significant cost reducing factors.
By using the vacuum clamping process, UDLP GSD Aiken has minimized set-up time, increased machine availability and capability, and reduced accident exposure to operators since it is no longer necessary to physically clamp plates to the tables. The electronic verification process performs all commands, decreasing the work instruction complexity and optimally fitting more parts on the three fixtures. The vacuum clamping process decreased the average time required to complete a single job, yielded cost-effective results, and fostered a more productive environment with better manufacturing capability, thereby enabling UDLP GSD Aiken to be more competitive.
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