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IMTS Experiences: Plan to Be Blown Away

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“We seek out the most complex parts,” says Chris Orlowski, General Manager, XL Machine Company, Inc., Three Rivers, Michigan. When other shops aren’t interested in machining a part, “We quote it, and we machine it to the highest quality. The most difficult part is identifying customer needs. Some parts have high tolerance in some parts, while other parts are more complex due to the many setups. We pride ourselves on being able to reduce setups with our multi-axis equipment.”

This Renishaw probe is on one of 10 CMMs that give XL-Machine the necessary tools for precise, detailed inspections. Each CMM is set up with detailed work instructions to help the operators navigate the set up to ensure parts are measured consistently. The CMM has a probe changer so there is minimal human interference.

Part of the Burke Porter Group, XL Machine is a turnkey supplier of precision build-to-print components and assemblies. They focus on the automotive industry, machining a variety of parts such as superchargers, turbochargers, pulleys, manifolds and differentials. The company’s 86 people operate 84 CNC machines and 10 CMMs. Orlowski started his career with Burke Porter as a lead machinist, but his leadership skills saw him quickly receive promotions to Manufacturing Manager and to General Manager in 2014.

“I attended my first IMTS in 2014,” he says. “I attended because when I was promoted into a management position, I needed to know, ‘What’s next? What are other people doing in the industry? What can we do differently to be more competitive, to be more strategic in our planning processes? Is there a faster way to machine parts? Is there a faster way to move parts from machine to machine?’ That’s really why I went to IMTS, and I was blown away. It was fantastic.”

IMTS 2014 exposed Orlowski to robots and how they could load and unload parts to save time. He says that there’s no substitute for seeing machines in action and how they could possibly integrate with parts that XL Machine currently makes or could make in the future.

This Okuma MU400-V Series is one of XL’s four 5-axis machines, giving the company a powerful combination of speed and accuracy – it can hold tolerances down to +/- 0.002 mm. With multi axis equipment, XL can reduce set ups and increase consistency with less part handling.

“We never know what we’re going to get in the RFQ box tomorrow, but the project could utilize some piece of equipment that I’ve seen at the IMTS show and on our floor,” he says.

For IMTS 2014, Orlowski only attended for one day because he didn’t know what to expect. He learned quickly that he only had time to see less than half of the relevant exhibits.

“The next time the show came around, I spent three days at IMTS 2016, and I saw as much as I could possibly see,” he says. “I went through all of the metrology areas, machine tool areas, cutting tool areas... even 3D printing. We could utilize what they’re doing right now in 3D printing at our facility, so we are currently trying to build a use case for buying a 3D printing machine.”

To plan for the show, Orlowski downloaded the MyShowPlanner app on his iPhone. He planned out booth visits each day for himself, as well as the company’s quality manager and a metrologist.

XL-Machine uses 23 horizontal and 25 vertical milling machines. Horizontals utilize spindle time with dual pallets as well as reduced set ups due to being able to machine multiples sides of a part with one set up. Verticals utilize a 4th axis to gain similar efficiency.

“You really need to plan your trip to IMTS because there’s so much to see. If you don’t plan, you could spend an exorbitant amount of time in one area and miss new technology or advancements that would’ve helped your business,” he states.

At IMTS 2018, Orlowski will not only be an attendee, but he’ll also be representing Burke Porter Group, which will showcase its balancing division in booth 135830 in the East Building, Level 3. In addition to XL Machine, the Group is comprised of Burke Porter Machinery, Epic Equipment & Engineering, Universal Balancing, Kleinknecht, LISMAR, Korvis, Primatics, and CIMAT Balancing (learn more about Burke Porter Group companies).

IMTS 2018 is the place where dreamers and doers connect. Orlowski is highly successful and less than 40 years old. “I have big dreams of what I want to do with the rest of my life and my career. But you have to be a doer as well, because dreams only go so far unless you actually get down to business and do it.”

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