The Link in Productivity and Profitability
For over four decades, Link® Manufacturing, headquartered in Sioux Center, Iowa, has been committed to developing and manufacturing heavy-duty commercial vehicles and equipment suspension systems. Link’s dedication to manufacturing and delivering quality vehicles and parts has driven their success to achieving a 99.5% On-Time Delivery and OE PPM < 300. Since 2016 Link has acquired five Doosan Machine Tools machining and turning centers including the VCF 850LSR, Lynx 2100LSYB, Lynx 2100LB, and two NHP 5500’s.
With each acquisition Link has continued to increase their productivity and profitability by achieving done-in-one machining, unattended automation, increased spindle utilization, and reduced outsourcing and tooling costs. Link’s success with the support of Ellison Technologies and Doosan has earned them a feature spotlight as a Doosan Shop on www.doosanmachinetools.us
The First Doosan
The relationship between Link® Manufacturing, Ellison Technologies, and Doosan began at IMTS 2016. Link’s Manufacturing Engineer overseeing CNC machines, Derek Poppema, worked with Ellison Sales Manager, Tim Petersen, to find an advanced machine to support their evolving business. After discussing options, Derek proposed the VCF 850LSR vertical machining center with HSK-63 taper, 120” wide table, and rotating B-axis spindle to Link’s management team.
Through creative fixturing, Link was able to machine multiple parts on the high capacity table, and reduced cycle times on four parts by 50%.
In 2018, Tim presented the benefits of 50 taper horizontal machining in comparison to Link’s current 40 taper machines. Convinced of the improved capabilities 50 taper would provide, Link acquired a Doosan NHP 5500 horizontal machining center (HMC) with 50 hp dual wound spindle motor, 10,000 rpm, 310 ft-lbs. torque spindle, and 19.7” table. Making the switch to the NHP was easy since Link’s previous 40 taper machines had the same table size allowing all their previous fixturing to work on the NHP as well.
Utilizing the rotating pallet and tombstone fixturing, Link was able to setup eight parts per pallet and reduced their cycle time from 60 minutes down to 6 minutes. The advanced workholding created an estimated annual savings of $140,000 a year. The NHP’s B-axis table is capable of holding bi-directional axial tolerance of 0.001” which allowed Link to machine steering knuckle parts that have a wheel hub connecting to suspension and steering components.
MAKE MORE Money; No More Outsourcing
After experiencing the productive benefits of their first two Doosan machines, Link acquired two horizontal turning centers to bring their originally outsourced round work parts in-house. With the Lynx 2100LSYB and Lynx 2100LB, Link reduced their outsourcing costs and created an additional $284,000 annual savings. Equipped the Lynx with a barfeeder took their productivity even further allow unattended automated machining giving their team the ability to handle more parts at once. In 2019, Link took on second NHP 5500 and discovered additional cost savings from their tooling.
Taking advantage of the 90 slot tool magazine, Link has been able to expand their library of parts to be machined on each NHP without having to constantly swap out tools further reducing their setup times.