The set-in-order 5S principle involves making workflow smooth and easy, arranging items for easy selection and preventing lost time.

Set in order is a great tool for assessing EDM productivity and for determining the need for a new machine, and/or electrode and workpiece holder technologies. If the department’s bottleneck is EDM time versus electrode milling time, then the set-in-order effort should focus on increasing EDM machine efficiency, maximizing output and avoiding those bottlenecks.

Advancements of EDM electrode and workholding techniques can be significant in dramatically improving EDM processing within many mold shops. EDM machines with toolchangers, high-speed graphite milling machines with robotics and integrated inspection capabilities all combine for a set-in-order magnitude of productivity.

Flexible workholding systems and palletization of mold components can add another level of productivity by avoiding the setup rituals of indicating and centering electrodes and workpieces. Improved repeatability also enhances the quality of a shop’s EDM-processed parts.

Compares the productivity of EDM-related equipment (EDM sinkers and milling machines) with various levels of automation. The illustrated baseline assumes that, without quick-change tooling, productivity and EDM utilization (production) is approximately 800 hours annually per machine. By incorporating an integrated tooling system, this annual productivity increases to 1,200 hours, or 50 percent more productivity per machine. Another 50-percent increase in productivity can be gained by applying a pre-setting technology to the tooling. Still further improvement can be realized by applying automation to the integrated tooling system. Although many mold builders do not require full automation (or budgets won’t allow for it), the additional machine productivity it may produce can approach 6,000 hours, or more than 95 percent annual utilization. This is a significant amount of throughput for any operation.

Incrementally stocking blank sizes, by ΒΌ-inch or 5-mm increments, is another way to streamline electrode manufacturing. Although there can be some material waste when standard electrode sizes are used, the two or three days that can be gained from using off-the-shelf pre-sized blanks promotes immediate EDM processing after a design is completed, often reducing mold delivery times.

The final set-in-order consideration is a focus on further reducing mold delivery times by incorporating standard outsourcing streams for operations that typically have been performed in-house. This helps achieve more aggressive build schedules without the purchase of additional machinery or labor. External value-added options now include mold design services (the new bottleneck of EDM), components with pre-machined features, pre-assembled electronic and hydraulic packages, and even graphite blanks with pre-machined quick-change patterns.