MTDCNC, MODIG and Spirit AeroSystems – Interview with Justin Pond about their FlexiMill cells
Tony Gunn: “Are we taking multiple steps and now putting it into one, so our cycle times, our lead times, our overall cost is lower?”
Justin Pond: “Yes, very much so with these machines. We load it, run the program that’s set up for that specific part number. It does all the tool changes for all the different drills. Built-in cuts, whatever we need to do trim and phalanges, and when we come down, we have one set up, one part ready to go out the door. We are strictly aluminum in my department, and these are the frames that go throughout the 737 fuselage.”
“Getting these machines in were a big time change to the atmosphere, the setup, the physical labor that the operators had to do. This has been a great benefit to the company.”
“The head movement with the 360 movements can rotate to any angle you need to get in to make any cut, and then the clamping, you hold the part in there, hit the button, and clamp everything down. You’re ready to go. It’s a quick and easy process to get the machine up and running, and there’s a quick changeover once you’re done.
Guess what, my friends? I am at Spirit AeroSystems today with my buddy Justin Pond where there are 37 Modig machines in his department. That is phenomenal to me, and we will talk about FlexiMill and how it’s supported Spirit AeroSystems and its continued growth. I know you’ve heard of these guys. Justin will explain how their successes have happened here in Kansas as the world leader.
Justin, thank you so much for participating in MTDCNC, my friend. Glad to be here. I’m glad that you’re here as well. But, I am even more excited to learn about what we’re standing in front of now, and then all the other Modig machines.
FlexiMill – a horizontal, high-speed, six-axis machining center
So firstly, let’s talk about this FlexiMill. I know you have bunches of them. What’s this allowed you to do within Spirit AeroSystems? So with the flexible installation that was done and the partnership we have with Modig, we were able to design these machines so that they had two different contours so we could run two different types of parts that support the production needs that we have throughout the factory coming off of stretch presses and other areas that we are involved in.
As we’re talking about something like this. I see. I mean, setups, unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else, right? It’s phenomenal. It’s unique. It allows us to do certain things that maybe we couldn’t do previously. Do you, by chance, have a story of how something was done previously and how supportive Modig supported you upgraded that process? So some of the old curve styles that you see right behind me right now had specific claims that had to be manually set by hand every time you went from part to part or even cut to cut with the automatic pad movement and then the automatic clamping that goes in and out through hydraulic systems and air driven. It has really helped the input of the production output and everything that we’re doing to make our rate. Yeah. So when we’re thinking about all the output you’re doing, I look around this massive machine shop. You’re putting out parts all over the place of all different sizes.
Is this the automation cell that allows you to get to multiple angles? And I bring this up just because when I see what parts are on there right now, and for those of you who can’t see it, there’s a u-shaped large piece. When I see something like this, I think, man, this has to go on multiple different setups on multiple different machines, slowing down the process of how it will get manufactured.
Are we taking multiple steps and now putting it into one? So our cycle times, lead times, and overall cost are lower. Yes, very much so with these machines, we load it, we’re on the program, it’s set up for that specific part number, it does all the tool changes for all the different drills in cuts, whatever we need to do, trim, and flanges. And when we come down, we have one set up, one part ready to go out the door. And these are aluminum parts, am I correct? Yes, we all strictly use aluminum in my department to get these parts out. These are the frames that go throughout the 77 fuselages. Approximately if you know the answer, just how many of this specific product do you make a week, a month, a year, or whatever number you might know about it?
So, we send kits out every day with this product. This machine runs for two shifts right now with where we’re at the current rate, and then move the next day, we’re running another kit. So we run about a kit a day to keep up with our current rate. And the reason I bring that up is for a very significant purpose. That purpose is if I’m doing all my operations in one setup as I see machines set up 12, 11, 10, not across this thing and I’m doing it all in one, and you’re putting out x enough amount of a number of parts on these two shifts every day, every week, every month. And it used to be done on multiple machines with multiple setups. I can only imagine how quickly the machines paid for themselves once they got up and running. Yeah, getting these machines in was a big-time change to the atmosphere. The setup, the physical labor that the operators had to do. So this has been a great benefit to the company. As an overall plan for the future.
Spirit continues to grow right?
And we have to have service and support when it comes to the partners that we work with. What have the services and support been like with Modig and moving into the future? Are you going to continue to expand on these incredible projects? Yes, we will look to expand with the Modig product. The service and support we’ve gotten from them have been outstanding. With them putting the new Modig U.S office downtown, we have a glocal contact here so we can get all the support products we need. Yeah, we need that. And that facility is amazing, by the way, the grand opening was so much fun. You guys are represented there. Beautiful facility with Old Brick that they actually can’t get rid of because it’s considered history, right? Yes, that’s pretty neat.
What are the benefits of investing in a machine like Fleximill?
So I’m looking at this machine, and I just want to come to a conclusion for the audience here, for people going, you know what I hear Justin story. Aerospace is magnificent, Spirit is huge. Why would I personally invest in one? What are some of the unique attributes that you personally see when it comes to this machine and so on watching right now my go is, man, I should really look into that machine as well. So one of the things with how I have this machine set up right now is that I’ve got that big contour you can see behind us.
These machines can actually go where they’re in a straight line. And then you can also have it so that instead of a concave, it’s a convex contour to fit a different side type of part the way it’s formed, you need the head movement with the 360 movement that head can rotate to any angle you need to get in to make any cut, any drill that you need to. And then the clamping, you know, you hold the part in there, hit the button, it clamps everything down, you’re ready to go. It’s a quick and easy process to get the machine up and running and there’s a quick changeover once you’re done. If I looked at this machine. The first time, I go, man, that looks a little bit scary. I mean, how many stations do I have here? However, when I’m walking around your shop, I see people everywhere. Looks like they’re comfortably running these machines with a smile on their face.
Would you say they’re pretty user-friendly as well? Yes, definitely User-friendly. We have a training set up whenever we bring a new hire in that, you know, we make sure that they’re trained and ready.But depending on the skill I’ve got guys that can be self-sufficient and within a couple of weeks coming in with little or no experience on a Modig machine so that the turnaround to get somebody up to speed is very quick. Running, and building a good quality product.
That is the testimonial that I love to hear. My friend Justin, you are off the hook. You are amazing. Thank you for joining me. On MTDCNC. For everyone who’s watching right now, this is Spirit AeroSystems. This is my buddy Justin Pond, an incredible guy, with an incredible facility. If you’ve not seen them then take a look at the company, the products, the people are what make this thing go, what make this thing turn. Thank you all for watching. I hope you’ve learned as much as I have today and I’ll see you again next time”