“Veritas operates efficiently and lean. We’re extremely reliant on a fast, accurate, dependable machine and Hurco has met that need with the HTX500.”
Based in Ottawa, Canada, Lee Valley Tools, Ltd. has been meeting the needs of serious woodworkers and gardeners for over 25 years as one of the leading mail-order and retail suppliers of woodworking tools, gardening tools, and cabinet hardware. Veritas Tools is the research, development and manufacturing division of Lee Valley Tools and is known as one of the most innovative hand-tool design firms in the world.
Hurco AdvantageIn order to meet customer demand, Veritas recently expanded their horizontal machining center (HMC) capacity. Although they already had four HMCs from another machine tool manufacturer, they found them to be slow and limiting on the number of tools they held. The newer version of this same machine offered faster tool changes and more tools, but the pallet size was smaller and the axis travels reduced. These machines would not provide the solution Veritas needed. Impressed with the capabilities of Hurco's HTX500 horizontal machine, Veritas soon ordered three units for their woodworking tool manufacturing operation in Ottawa. The HTX500 offers large, 500mm pallets, 60 tool ATC with fast swing arm action, and fast pallet change time. Additionally, the fully integrated 3-axis capability allows complex production parts to be machined efficiently and accurately.
With product demand expanding, Veritas realized that it could no longer continue with its traditional batch machining processes. Excess or insufficient inventory, combined with supporting 23 different planes and spokes have, called for a different solution. Veritas needed to get lean. They decided to configure their new Hurco horizontals with simple fixturing so that a complete plane assembly would emerge after each cycle. Planes consist of two main machined parts: the “body” and the "toe" or "frog". Instead of producing these pieces in batch quantities, the new approach produces both parts in the same cycle on the Hurco horizontals. The large pallets make it easy for Veritas to use standard tombstones with standard vise fixtures for holding the plane parts. This allows them to quickly change production to match demand. Vises on each machine are designed to take different planes within a family. Each HMC is permanently set up to machine up to six different planes, making it quick and easy to change from one size plane to the next. Since fixtures never leave the machines, set ups are quick and easy. With only complete assemblies being produced, work-in-process inventory is greatly reduced. The results are very impressive. Veritas's work-in-process inventory has been reduced by 70% and time to process and assemble can be as short as two days. With reduction in total cost, the overall return on investment has been excellent.
SummaryAs a manufacturer, Veritas is unique because it has a very short link through Lee Valley Tools—its parent company—to the end customer. In addition, all North American sales of planes and spokeshaves are sold through Lee Valley. Sales patterns can be analyzed on a daily basis and the production schedule adjusted to meet demand. Inventory can be closely controlled to match sales. This ensures having sufficient inventory on-hand without carrying too much of any specific plane. “Veritas operates efficiently and lean,” notes Steve Oszmian, Vice President of Manufacturing and Operations. “We’re extremely reliant on a fast, accurate, dependable machine and Hurco has met that need with the HTX500.”