With our commitment to continuous improvement, something is always going on at Freeman Company. Here are a few of the significant improvements we've made in our company and capabilities over the past few years.
September, 2011 - ILLIG selects Freeman as an Exclusive Service Partner to support ILLIG tooling in the USA and Canada, based on Freeman's level of engineering expertise and close tolerance manufacturing capabilities. As part of the agreement, Freeman employees traveled to ILLIG's facility in Heilbronn, Germany for training on ILLIG's tooling, designs, and methods. This is a very positive long-term relationship for both companies and a major step in expanding Freeman's abilities regarding form and trim in-place tooling.
September - October, 2010 - 5-axis linear cell operates at over 90% utilization for extended time period running 24/7. Continual drive to fully utilize the capabilities of the machines and the robotic cell has proven successful as we see great gains in output and schedule realization from this investment.
June, 2010 – Frame sets and ergonomic lift are put into operation at our wire EDM cell. The frame sets can be quickly loaded in and out of the wire machines with part locations already picked up. This will allow quick part-to-part changeovers, give us the ability to get more unmanned run time, and setup parts outside the machine envelope with great accuracy.
February, 2010 - 5-axis linear cell is fully operational. With little to no operator interface with the machine controllers, operators are loading the cell magazines with the robot and interfacing mainly via the cell controller. We are seeing great gains in productivity and efficiency utilizing laser tool measurement, in process part probing, tool life management, redundant tooling, and standardized tooling.
January, 2010 - Installation is completed on Freeman's linear robotic cell. The cell controller will automate the operation of our two high-speed 5-axis machines by linking them to a 40-pallet magazine. It is designed to provide the capability of running 24/7 allowing Freeman to greatly improve the utilization of our machines, gaining through-put, and decreasing lead times on cavities. The cell will give us unparalleled flexibility regarding the mix of products we can run allowing us to insert rush jobs and one piece prototypes in the middle of production runs with very little human intervention or schedule disruption.
October, 2009 - Freeman takes delivery of two identical high-speed 5-axis machining centers. This represents Freeman's first installation of 5-axis machines and a major investment into the future with plans in the works to create an automated cell for the production of cavities.
April, 2009 - Makino KE arrives and takes the place of our final general use Bridgeport mill. The KE offers better feeds, speeds, rigidity, and accuracy than a Bridgeport and represents another step in upgrading our abilities throughout the entire facility at every level.
February, 2009 - Installation of crane rails and two (2) ton bridge cranes is completed in the South West wing of the facility. The cranes service the entire length of the bay and provide service to our grinding and relocated assembly area.
January, 2009 - Manufacturing area re-lit with high-efficiency lighting. 103 quartz halide lights were replaced with high efficiency fluorescent lights and individual motion sensors. The lights will operate on less than one third the power and provide a much brighter atmosphere in our manufacturing department.
February, 2008 - Freeman's third large horizontal machining center is put into service. This machine is equipped with a pallet changer, multi-sided tombstones with fixturing chucks, large tool magazine, and robotic interface. The machine will be focused on the production of punches and dies and will take full advantage of tool life management, laser tool measurement, and in process part probing to insure the production of quality parts and a high level of machine utilization.
February, 2008 - Freeman completes the sale of our forged die business. This sale represents the last major step in our transition from a fabrication and manual machine shop into a state of the art CNC tool shop and allows us to focus investment on the latest technologies available to produce custom tooling that provides maximum value to our customers.
March, 2008 - New high accuracy wire EDM put into service. Keeping with our intent to automate the machine was purchased with a robotic interface.
July, 2008 - Two new lathes are put into production. One is equipped with dual spindles and a lower turret with live tooling it is capable of six sided machining of parts complete from raw stock without operator intervention. This addition doubles the capacity in our turning cell allowing us to further shorten lead times. Coupled with our existing Mill Turn centers and Fanuc robot we will be able to take on more complex machining challenges with shorter lead times.
March, 2007 - Installation is completed on Freeman's second multi-axis turning center. The machine is fully equipped with dual spindles, upper milling head, and a lower turret with live tooling. Beginning a new direction towards automation this machine is interfaced with a Fanuc robot and drawer style magazine system enabling it to complete 6 sided machining of multiple jobs without being tended by an operator. Our focus is to maximize machine utilization, eliminate multiple manned set-ups across multiple machines, and eliminate the time our skilled machinists spend tending machines all to improve cost and delivery to our customers.