Precision in Motion: How New Dimensions Streamlined Production with Automated Solutions

In February 2023, New Dimensions Precision Machining sought a solution to streamline the manufacturing of hydraulic control valves. The company, producing thousands of these high-volume valves annually, planned to integrate a FANUC robot for loading and unloading the cast-iron valves. The engineering team at All World Machinery Supply, experts in the Arrow workholding fixture product line, developed a custom solution perfectly suited to their needs.

Meeting Production Demands

When All World was approached, New Dimensions had already contracted CNC Solutions, based in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, for a customized robotic solution. Serving customers in the hydraulics industry, New Dimensions began integrating fully robotically loaded equipment in 2022 in response to labor shortages and rising labor costs. Their goal was to maintain continuous, 24/7 operation with minimal human involvement, limited to inspection and material handling tasks, according to Martin Halwix, Director of Business Development at New Dimensions Precision Machining.

The company needed a hydraulic solution to ensure consistency and repeatability. Typically, Arrow workholding fixtures connect to All World’s ClampMax hydraulic power systems, equipped with efficient Daikin pumps with inverter control to guarantee optimal performance, says Scott Tilton, All World Project Manager.

The Push for Robotic Collaboration

New Dimensions’ cells, combining robotics and hydraulic solutions, are seen as a model application for growing automation needs, according to Aaron Zuehlke, CNC Solutions Applications Engineering Manager. Their FANUC robotics system 10DER TS-X is an 80% pre-programmed standalone solution with 20% customizability, ideal for manufacturers like New Dimensions who machine similar-sized parts with minimal tooling changes and multiple part numbers. Operators can switch to a different part number in minutes by changing the part cutout insert and adjusting the grippers.

After machining, the robot moves parts to an engraver for product information stamping, then returns them to their original nest. When full, an operator removes finished parts and reloads raw material.

To ensure smooth operation, a workholding solution must securely hold and accurately position parts during machining. The fixture must allow easy part insertion without getting stuck and ensure it remains in place during fixture rotation.

Rising to the Challenge

All World engineers quickly began designing a versatile workholding fixture to hold hydraulic pump blocks for New Dimensions’ Makino A51NX 4-axis horizontal machining center. The design allows for machining four parts in each of two different operations, reducing product handling and improving tolerance control and dimensional accuracy, says Tilton.

In the first step (op 10), the part is machined on the front face and through a window on the opposite side. In op 20, the part is located by features machined in op 10, and additional faces are milled at the 90° and 270° B-axis positions. At the end of the cycle, a robot removes completed parts, shifts op 10 parts to op 20 stations, and loads raw blanks into op 10 spaces. The robot rotates the fixture in 90-degree increments at the load station.

Refining the Solution

During the review process, engineers considered tool reach, fixture weight, robot access, and other space requirements. Designing the unit with internal hydraulic passages and no external tubing resulted in a clean appearance, ample tool holder clearance, and no chip accumulation. The fixture also features live hydraulics and air gap part seat detection for accurate part loading.

Halwix praised All World engineers for suggesting air seat detection early in the process, preventing additional costs. Close collaboration between CNC Solutions and All World Machinery Supply ensured smooth project execution, avoiding issues from previous projects where fixturing and robotic suppliers worked separately until integration.

Around-the-Clock Automation

Halwix highlights the major benefit of automation: 24/7 operation and the ability to staff difficult-to-fill shifts. One person can prep the robot at the start of a shift, then move on to other machines, replacing the need for spending an entire shift on one machine. This approach reduces labor hours significantly, saving almost 90 hours of labor per week.

Following automation success at their Union, Illinois facility, New Dimensions is exploring automation for their Schaumburg, Illinois, and Greenwood, Arkansas locations.

A Legacy of Precision

With 60 years of refining workholding solutions and over 100 years of combined fixture design experience, the Arrow workholding fixtures team at All World prides itself on engineering reliable, durable fixtures. These fixtures, designed to last 10-20 years, hold parts securely and clamp them repeatedly, ensuring consistency every time, says Steve Hagedorn, All World Engineering Manager.

Arrow’s fixtures use high-quality materials and construction methods, including hardened tool steel or carbide for workpiece contact surfaces and black oxide coating for other steel components to ensure long life and corrosion resistance. The fixtures are designed to minimize operations, reducing handling and idle spindle time, and are easy to maintain with accessible fasteners and off-the-shelf items whenever possible.

“Our customers recognize that Arrow workholding fixtures offer reliability, maintainability, and make an excellent investment,” Hagedorn says. “We design fixtures that are simple for the operator to use correctly and free of sharp edges and pinch points.”


New Dimensions Precision Machining’s collaboration with All World Machinery Supply and CNC Solutions exemplifies how automation and custom engineering solutions can streamline manufacturing processes, enhance efficiency, and reduce labor costs. The successful integration of robotic and hydraulic solutions at New Dimensions sets a benchmark for future automation projects in the industry.

Original source MMS

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