Industry experts answer woodworkers' frequently asked questions regarding moulder usage and ways to improve productivity and yield.

Q: What are the benefits of having higher RPM on the moulder?

A: The advantage of higher RPM spindles is the ability to process mouldings while achieving an acceptable finish quality at a higher capacity rate. So if your desired finish quality is 18 knife marks per inch, you can achieve this at 28 linear feet per minute with a 6,000 RPM tooled spindle. In comparison, a 12,000 RPM tooled spindle will achieve the same finish quality at 56 linear feet per minute. So the benefit is that the higher RPM spindle allows your capacity rate to double.

Q: That is great, but at what cost?

A: Even with all things being perfect, the cost can be considerably higher. Higher RPM requires higher horsepower, which equals higher daily operational cost. It also requires specialized tooling and tool accessories, as well as better dust extraction and possibly automatic feeders to keep up with the higher feed rates. But if used and taken care of properly, higher RPM spindles can be a great benefit. If not, they can be a great burden. - submitted by Chuck Carter, Kentwood product manager at Stiles Machinery

Q: There’s always a desire to make things better, faster, and at a lower cost. New machines and technology can definitely get a company on the right path, but how do you spot these needs?

A: There are three key considerations.

1: Look for idle material. Is there a lot laying around the shop or waiting on another operation? Keeping material flowing from one station to another is important. Every time a piece is put down or picked up without having some value-added operation performed, it is wasteful. Over ripping, for example, can be convenient for the next time you “might” need that rip size for a moulding, but it forces a lot of unnecessary labor to move that extra material, store it, and then find it the next time it is needed. Produce what you need, when you need it. There are flexible machines that allow you to react to your customers’ demands.

2. Look for paperwork, then eliminate it. Set up an electronic job/order tracking system. This system allows the shop to get the most up-to-date and accurate information. This allows operators to anticipate what is next, rather than react to what comes at them. Electronic systems also can allow a manager to track jobs in real-time and use this information to analyze costs and evaluate efficiencies.

3. Look for machine downtime and eliminate it. Downtime can be caused by a number of things, but the two most common are maintenance and lack of coordination. The maintenance issue is easy to correct: Keep your machines clean, perform factory recommended preventative maintenance regularly, and replace broken parts with the right ones instead of “band-aids.” Lack of coordination can also be an easy fix. If your moulder operator is standing beside his idle machine chances are good he is waiting on one of two things: tools or wood. This is where an electronic system comes into play. Give the forklift driver, moulder operator and grinderman the transparency to see what the other is doing. It will allow them to better coordinate what needs to be done next to keep production running. - submitted by Steven McNeilly, product manager at Michael Weinig Inc.

Q: How fast can I change over from one profile to the next?

A: Valuable time every day is spent in setup, so the more you reduce the setup time the more productive you’re going to be. The demand for technology drives the automation of the machines — woodworkers are always looking for advances with the controllers and the ability to monitor all aspects of the machine. - submitted by Tim Sermonet, sales manager at SCM Group North America, Advanced Machinery Division

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