Bringing Home the Control at RAH
RAH Industries Comes Home for Faster Setups and On-Time Accuracy
Long setup times and sub-contractor delays often lead to increased price per part – and reduced company profits. RAH Industries of Valencia, California, has taken control of both variables by bringing operations in-house, and developing innovative techniques to reduce setup and changeover time.
Founded in 1971, RAH Industries has continued to expand, steadily refining capabilities to provide complete precision metal fabrication for the aerospace, aircraft, commercial, defense, electronics, medical and space industries.
The use of high-speed, state-of-the- art CNC milling and turning centers, combined with lean manufacturing techniques, allows RAH to support their customers’ needs and deliver on time, even with unusually short schedule requirements.
RAH also offers CNC laser cutting, turret punch and press brake operations in-house, and they are able to hot form titanium and inconel tubing, as well as aluminum, stainless steel and most other alloys. The company maintains a staff of certified welders and braziers, and they have a final assembly department where parts can be completed to customer specifications with ducting insulation, foil markers, adhesive bonding and complex part built-up.
ON THE SHOP FLOOR
With the recent delivery of Haas Automation’s 20,000th production CNC machine (see page 3) – an SL-20 lathe with live tooling – RAH is now equipped with six Haas CNC machines on the shop floor: four VF-4 vertical machining centers and two lathes. To further enhance time-savings and productivity, they have also integrated a uniform fixturing/setup system.
“We’ve learned how to do a five-minute changeover on our Haas CNC milling centers,” says Bob Weesner, RAH’s quality assurance manager. “We can stop the machine, tear it down and be back up and running again in a five-minute cycle time.”
RAH does this by incorporating a universal baseplate on all machines. “They all have a common lock for vices and a common tooling plate,” explains Weesner. “Everything is tooled the same way. Even though the part may be a different configuration, it still makes that five minute change. Every machine can be ready to run the same part in five-minutes, and we have a special cart to roll these setups from machine to machine . . . total adaptability.”
This rapid interchangeability not only cuts the setup times going from one machine to the next, but it also ensures the repeatability and quality control aspects of the RAH manufacturing process.
“That’s what we’ve done with the Haas machines,” says Weesner. “They give us that repeatability and quality. All of our Haas machines, with the exception of the new lathe, have already gone through the Boeing ATA certification for advanced tooling applications. You have to be able to hold tenths over a set time span. The Haas machines do that for us. We are real impressed.”
To further reduce costs, RAH optimizes manpower by dedicating a number of machines to a single operator, or running unattended. “As you can see, in this area there is no operator at all, yet there are two Haas turning centers running parts,” says Weesner. “This leads us to total efficiency, allowing us to provide our customers with cost reductions by tracking footsteps and removing non-value- added processes to maximize our efficiency.”
Gary Maki, Haas VMC operator explains: “Usually, I’m not one to stand around. So when I get one machine set up, I’ll go over and start setting up another machine. Or maybe I’ll do some cleaning or other maintenance – whatever needs to be done.
“I still find myself with some free time, even with two machines running, so I’ll check some of my other tools and make sure everything is in working order and up to par. That’s another thing, the upkeep on these (Haas) machines is minimal. But we keep a maintenance schedule posted on every machine, and if you follow it, your machine just gets better.”
CUTTING EDGE CAPABILITY
Because of its many contacts in the high-tech fields, RAH finds its machines cutting a wide variety of exotic materials. “These threaded inserts are made out of A-286 stainless steel. Not only is it one of the hardest materials, but it’s one of the gummiest, too. So it makes it very tough to machine, a very, very tough stainless to cut,” says Maki. “But we cut everything on our Haas CNCs.”
Maki says that with cutter technology really on the rise, even more impressive performance is just a matter of time. “They think they’re really making time now, just wait until they find out what these new cutters are capable of. But we’re already cutting everything on our Haas centers – titanium, stainless, molinite – everything!”
IN-HOUSE VERSUS OUTHOUSE
Like many other growing companies, RAH looked for in-house solutions to remedy questionable service provided by outside shops. “We were never really a machine house, but we were getting horrible quality and horrible delivery times,” explains Weesner. “So we started researching the process and realized we’re paying all of this money for someone to give us junk. We just couldn’t deal with that anymore; we had to control the process.
“The classic example was a job from a major manufacturer of large commercial aircraft. They would order 50 parts at a time, and we would sub the turning work out. I was paying $50 for this part, and I never knew if they were going to come in the door right, or if they were going to need rework. I didn’t have control over it.”
When the customer cut loose with a 2,000 piece order, RAH seriously got to thinking about bringing the process in-house. “This guy didn’t want to lower his price, and we couldn’t be sure of his quality, so we started looking into purchasing our own turning center.”
Weesner says they were so impressed with their Haas machining centers that they ordered a Haas lathe. “We ended up sending three people to the Haas school,” he continues, “and when the machine hit the floor, it took only an hour and a half to wire it up, get it some air and have it turning its first production part.
“Like I say, right now there are two machines running with no one on them, and they’re fine. In fact, with the live tooling option on this new lathe – the 20,000th Haas CNC machine – we are able to do a number of secondary operations without having to refixture the part on a vertical mill. That saves time, and greatly improves quality.”