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How ANCA’s “shockingly easy” RFID solution increases productivity and efficiency at Carbitools

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ANCA FX7 with RFID automation enables Carbitool to offer high-quality regrinding services with a quick turnaround


Carbitool, known as "The Woodworking Masters," is a company based in Australia that has been manufacturing carbide tools for the woodworking, cabinetry, joinery, furniture, timber, and panel industries for over 60 years. In 2018, Sutton Tools, an Australian tool manufacturing and services group, acquired Carbitool and now offers its services worldwide.

Production Supervisor and regrind specialist, Michael Wilson, has over 25 years of experience in manufacturing and grinding special cutting tools at Carbitool.

According to Wilson, Carbitool services all kinds of tooling, including metal cutting tools, woodworking tools, high-speed steel tools, carbide tools, and PCD tools. The company can also regrind all major brands of cutting tools and manufacture custom tools that are not available in the catalogue. Carbitool's services cater to various industries, such as aerospace, engineering, plastics, and more, and are available throughout Australia.

The tool regrinding process can now be run lights out with ANCA FX-RFID

“We pride ourselves on the quality of the regrinds but I also feel it's important to the customers that they have a quick turnaround of the tools,” said Wilson. “Previously what we've had to do is they would either get hand loaded during the day - so you can regrind one tool, and write the program for the next one while that first one is grinding and then put the next one in. But it's a process that requires someone to stand in front of that machine pretty much all the time.”

However, with ANCA’s 5 axis CNC machines, the process has become more efficient and can be automated. Carbitool recently acquired a new ANCA FX7 machine with RFID automation, the first of its kind in Australia.

This automation package allows the company to load up to 88 tools of varying diameter, shank diameters and programs, geometries and tool type. The machine can run lights out during the day and night. The information of the tool grind file is paired coded to the RFID carriers , which means they can be placed in any order in the pallet.

“Before the FX with RFID automation turned up, I was curious to see how it was going to work and also how complicated it was going to be, how difficult to program. But in actual fact, it was shockingly easy,” Wilson said. “I pretty much just press go and walk away. The reason I can walk away from this machine is because it does everything that I used to have to do while I'm standing in front of it.”

Wilson explained that the Fanuc robot changes the wheelpack, collet, and picks up the carrier and the tool. The RFID chip inside the tool carrier is linked to a program that Wilson has written for that specific tool. The program includes information such as the shank diameter of the tool, the tool geometry, and the wheel packs required to regrind the tool back to its original specifications. The carriers are individually programmed, and additional notes can be added to them, such as to who the tooling belongs to.

“The RFID has enabled us to have a quicker turnaround of our tooling in that we can run during the night. The benefit to the customer is  that they will get a quick turnaround of the tool, which is great for them and great for me. It's not that uncommon for me to load or pre-program these tools and have the machine running during the night, and then I'll come in the morning and the tools are all ground.”

“Purchasing the FX with the automation has been a really good investment. It has enabled us to manufacture and regrind tools lights-out. So, in effect, we've got another machine, or we've gained another person as well.”

“As the number of regrinds increase, I've only got one pair of hands... with the RFID automation, this enables me to be running the machine without actually being there, which frees me up to do other things - be that going home or going out to visit customers, collecting or delivering regrinds, or discussing any specials that they might want made.”

“We've stuck with ANCA machines forever. Sutton and Carbitool have a very good working relationship with ANCA, and it's great that we're able to try out this new technology before anyone else,” Wilson concluded.

17 April 2023