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Green Means GO for Defense Manufacturer

(l-r) Chris Leh and Jon Thompson, TL Technologies Inc.

FANUC RoboDrill D21MiB5ADV

TL Technologies Inc, based in Lancaster PA, opened 9 years ago with a vision of becoming a lights-out producer of precision machined products. Working out of a 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility, the company specializes in mid- to high-volume production runs for complex parts with challenging dimensional tolerances. Over the past two years, the company has sharpened its focus on the defense and firearm industries, launching a line of self-branded Thompson Leh bolt actions and aftermarket GLOCK compatible slides that now make up 50% of its business.

A small shop running a high variety of parts in low lots sizes, one of the biggest challenges was having a poor Availability in overall equipment efficiency (OEE). "Our OEE was struggling due to our Availability number hovering around 45%," said Chris Leh, President, TL Technologies. "A shop excelling in OEE would have an Availability score of 97%. Our quality and efficiency numbers were excellent, but we were losing money on the extended downtimes due to not having the staff to handle the planned and unplanned stops."

TL Technologies' VP of Manufacturing and Engineering, Jon Thompson, has been working with machine tool distributor MTA Company, Inc., for years, first purchasing a Nakamura-Tome WY-100 to increase production and accuracy and to help them lower the cost per part for their customers. During a recent visit to the shop, Steve Norcio, Owner and President of MTA, noticed the "red light" issue that TL Technologies was experiencing in its production schedule. Norcio and Thompson spent time reviewing TL Technologies' current operations and discussing various solutions available to address this downtime.

The answer was the RoboDrill Plus-K60 Automation Solution through Methods Machine Tools Inc. This pre-engineered automation solution uses a robot to automatically load pallets and additional tools in and out of the FANUC RoboDrill. With 60 pallets and 65 tools now at their disposal, TL Technologies now had a system capable of performing the unattended runtimes that they needed.

The Plus-K60 is a pre-engineered automation solution for the FANUC RoboDrill D21MiB5ADV. It utilizes a FANUC LR Mate 200iD robot to load/unload 60 pallets stored on a carousel as well as access to 44 additional tools, increasing the number of tools in the RoboDrill to 65. The system features an easy to operate control pallet scheduling system, as well as the extra tools and pallets. The Plus-K also has configurations allowing for over 100 tools.

The RoboDrill Plus-K60 purchased by TL Technologies was configured with a 5-axis direct drive table, allowing them to complete a part in one operation-further eliminating human interference and keeping the lights green. "Three weeks after install, the Plus K ran for 97 straight hours," said Leh. "It would have kept going, too, if we had not stopped it to inspect the machine." Six weeks after installation and training, the Plus K-60 has completely eliminated the OEE availability concerns of TL Technologies.

The direct increase in productivity came not only by removing downtime during the week: with the additional tools and pallets available, they are able to run long into and through the weekend, further utilizing their machine. "Compared with just doing the numbers, seeing the results is just incredible," said Leh. These immediate results lead TL Technologies to invest in a second RoboDrill Plus K-60 just six weeks after the install.


What is Overall Equipment Effectiveness?

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) identifies the percentage of manufacturing time that is truly productive. The three underlying factors of OEE are Availability, Performance and Quality.

Availability takes into account planned and unplanned stops. Performance takes into account slow cycles and small stops. Quality takes into account defects, including parts that need rework. An OEE score of 100% means a company is manufacturing only good parts, as fast as possible, with no stop time.

Measuring OEE is a manufacturing best practice. By measuring OEE and the underlying losses, companies gain important insights into how to systematically improve their manufacturing process.

For more information contact:

For more information on OEE, go to

For more information contact:

TL Technologies

2950 Old Tree Drive, Suite 1

Lancaster, PA 17603


Methods Machine Tools, Inc.

65 Union Avenue

Sudbury, MA 01776


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