Job Shop Favors Machines with Flexibility

To remain a successful job shop, J.H. Benedict Company, Inc of East Peoria, Illinois relies on its ability to perfectly execute any and all jobs that customers propose. The shop requires versatility in its skill set and the functionality of its machines and employees.

J.H. Benedict’s main source of work comes from a variety of customers that need high-quality prototypes and fixtures to reverse engineer worn/broken parts. Customers will approach J.H. Benedict to either quote a design or have them develop and refine a final design based on the customer’s concept. After proof of the concept, J.H. Benedict works with production supplier engineers to further improve the product and its tolerances.

Because J.H. Benedict relies on these short-run jobs as opposed to a few large-run productions, the shop must be prepared to perform well for a broad range of machining processes. To facilitate its work, each piece of equipment on the shop’s floor must be as flexible as possible, including its grinding technologies.

“Versatile machines are the key to our business model,” said Austin Jones, plant manager of J.H. Benedict Company, Inc. “We need equipment that can do everything.”

The company was established in 1945 as a tool and die shop. After the shop acquired its first CNC equipment in the 1980s, it began to produce molds. Eventually, J.H. Benedict shifted into mainly machining prototype parts. Today, the shop listens to engineers and learns how the pieces must fit together and then designs parts to meet the engineers’ specifications.

As the shop transitioned to prototypes, its old grinding equipment was no longer meeting its needs. J.H. Benedict researched new CNC grinding technologies that had the performance the shop required. The shop had to increase speed to shorten lead times for customers, and it needed to be more accurate. With fewer pieces in a run, the shop had a higher demand for production efficiency than ever before. The new machine also had to be versatile.

J.H. Benedict chose a STUDER CNC universal cylindrical grinding machine because its multiple axes offered the adaptability, accuracy and speed that the shop was looking for.

“One of the reasons we went with a STUDER was its versatility,” said Austin. “We wanted to perform grinding with its CNC axes and hold tighter tolerances. Also, the machines have the necessary repeatability for our requirements. STUDER machines’ thermostability ensures that we don’t have to scrap parts, which is especially important to us with small-run jobs.”

The STUDER favoritCNC from UNITED GRINDING is designed for the production of individual or small-run medium-sized parts. This is important to J.H. Benedict because it needs grinding technologies that work well for orders that may only consist of a couple pieces. The favoritCNC is also easily retrofitted to perform other grinding tasks.

As a job shop, J.H. Benedict works with a broad range of part sizes and materials on its STUDER favoritCNC. The shop’s smallest parts measure under an eighth of an inch in diameter, while its largest parts are up to 13.5 inches in diameter. J.H. Benedict uses materials that include aluminum, stainless steel, 86-20 steel and rubber. The rubber is ground with an aggressive aluminum oxide wheel, while most other materials are ground with ceramic wheels.

J.H. Benedict’s STUDER grinding equipment has dramatically reduced the shop’s setup times. Its favoritCNC is equipped with an auto-balancer that makes wheel changes fast and easy. An additional boost to setup speeds comes from the shop’s stock of several different versatile wheels that perform well in multiple applications.

An additional time saver for J.H. Benedict is STUDER’s StuderGRIND software. The software is equipped with pre-set, standard grinding programs that can be tailored to an application. The shop reduces the time necessary to setup a part because an operator can edit a pre-set program instead of creating it entirely from scratch. Also, J.H. Benedict can save programs and reuse them when it runs jobs in multiple small batches over time.

Another valuable feature of the STUDER favoritCNC is its reliability and consistency. The CNC guarantees that exactly the right amount of material is ground away every time. It significantly reduces error over what an operator could accomplish with manual grinding, which leads to reduced waste.

J.H. Benedict gives excellent service to its customers that come out of a variety of industries including aerospace, construction equipment and automotive. Typical turnaround time is two to four weeks depending on the complexity of the job, but the shop will go above and beyond when the situation calls for it. J.H. Benedict’s customers are so reliant on the shop that in the past customers have sent a driver with a critical part on an eight-hour drive to the shop. After arrival, the shop works overnight to get the part done while the driver stays and watches over its completion. Once finished, the part and the driver return to get the customer back up and running.

Due to the great performance J.H. Benedict has seen from UNITED GRINDING equipment, it is Austin’s top-choice supplier for grinding systems. UNITED GRINDING machines are the highest quality on the market and its training and support are exceptional. Austin appreciates the responsiveness of UNITED GRINDING’s support staff and that of its distributor IMS.

“I can message our IMS right now and get immediate solutions,” said Austin.

The value of UNITED GRINDING equipment aids in J.H. Benedict’s growth. The shop’s reputation for fast turnarounds, superior part finishes and versatile machining capabilities consistently brings them new customers, some of whom are quite impressed by the shop’s favoritCNC.

“Some customers have sent us work solely because we have shown them the capabilities of STUDER’S technology,” said Austin.