Major Tool & Machine (MTM) is a large job shop producing precision milled and turned hardware at its expansive, 500,000-sq.ft. operation in Indianapolis. Performance is essential, because MTM contracts with aerospace, energy, nuclear, and defense manufacturers to complete many mission-critical, one-off projects. Owner and CEO Steve Weyreter will tell you openly: MTM is more competitive by way of a significant CNC technology change, one that started with an aggressive retrofit strategy.

Günther Zimmermann, CNC controls engineer at MTM, said the company’s retrofit program and the decision to adopt the Siemens SINUMERIK CNC platform have brought a new enthusiasm and momentum to the shop. Over the past two years the change also has brought significant time and cost reductions, especially in the areas of programming, maintenance engineering, and machine operations.

“The initial goal in early 2010 was to retrofit two Cincinnati U5 gantry machines,” Zimmermann recounted. “We evaluated two CNC technology platforms and after considerable analysis our CEO, Steve Weyreter, announced that Siemens would best support the company’s future.”

The decision to reduce costs by moving to a single CNC platform was the least difficult decision for the company to make, Zimmermann explained. The larger challenge for MTM was to integrate a CNC technology platform that was new to the company.

Bill Henderson, MTM’s manager of large machining and maintenance, agreed that the decision to change to a Siemens CNC platform integrated with advanced part and tool probing was critical, because the shop manages constant changeovers from one complex job to the next, making setup times a critical time/cost constraint for the shop. Another big advantage is the increased flexibility established by having to train machinists and maintenance personnel on just one type of control. 

“The decision to change to a new control has signaled higher expectations for the company,” Henderson continued, “along with new challenges for those who program, operate and maintain the company’s big machines.

“Naturally, there’s a resistance to change,” he indicated. “People are comfortable with what they normally run, but after our discussions with the people on the plant floor, they understood the overall objective. Our retrofit program is not finished, yet it’s already showing tremendous benefits.”