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Modern Machine Shop

Gantry-Loaded Chuckers Turn Up Productivity

Gantry Loading

Faced with a bottleneck in its turning operation, this manufacturer of tapered bearings for railcars invested in automated, twin-spindle CNC chuckers. In addition to increasing productivity and improving safety, moving from a manual to an automated turning freed workers for reassignment to other tasks throughout the plant.

The lathes are equipped with high speed, three-axis gantry loaders for reliable part handling. The automated loading systems allow the entire operation to run virtually unattended.

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Most patients wouldn’t go to a general practitioner for open-heart surgery. Likewise, most manufacturers serving the rail industry don’t rely on general equipment suppliers to ensure the reliability and safety of specific performance-critical components. Instead, they turn to specialists.

Manufacturers of approximately 60 percent of railcars in the United States and a large percentage of railcars overseas purchase one of their smallest parts—tapered wheel bearings—from a company that focuses solely on that one component. Brenco, a subsidiary of Amsted Rail in Petersburg, Virginia, has manufactured railcar roller bearings—and nothing else—for nearly 60 years.

Brenco had been using manually loaded linear lathes to cut the cups (inner races) and cones (outer races) for the tapered bearings, a process that created a significant bottleneck in its manufacturing operations. In 2005, the company decided to invest in a more automated production system from Murata Machinery USA of Charlotte, North Carolina. Like Brenco, the supplier focuses on a single product line—fully automated CNC turning machines.