A critical aspect of tooling in timber manufacturing is the selection of the best cutting tools for the job. Nathan Milner, Sales Manager for machinery and tooling suppliers, the Stirling Group, is on a mission to revolutionise customers’ tooling choices. He says transitioning from ‘old-school’ Aluminium Oxide and Seeded Gel grinding wheels to the state-of-the-art CBN wheels is “absolutely game-changing”.
For the Stirling Group, ‘changing the game’ is not just a strength, but a customer expectation. The Stirling team spends a great deal of time with customers, exploring their business’s operations, market, products, and performance. The end goal is not just to sell a ‘cookie-cutter’ solution, but to understand the business’s tooling needs from the ground up. Stirling customers count on the company to devise tangible solutions that deliver measurable benefits.
CBN grinding wheels are made of cubic boron nitride, a super hard material, second only to diamond in hardness. CBN is manufactured at ultra-high temperatures and pressures, giving it outstanding thermal stability, which makes it ideal for high temperature grinding applications.
As Nathan points out, CBN wheels can last up to ten times longer than AO and SG wheels. In high-volume grinding operations where frequent wheel changes can slow down productivity and increase costs, CBN wheels reduce downtime and maintenance costs, resulting in higher overall efficiency and productivity.
“CBN wheels represent one of the biggest changes that I’ve come across for wood machinists. Customers can still be a bit resistant, but I know firsthand how much time they save and the kinds of results that can be achieved,” Nathan says.
CBN wheels are supplied pre-shaped, meaning they hold their shape, last much longer and provide far greater accuracy on the end product. In turn, this means easier and quicker setups, less jointing, and longer run life.
On any given day, Nathan could be on the road visiting hardwood or softwood manufacturing customers throughout Queensland, Tasmania or Papua New Guinea. He says the conversation around CBN wheels can come from two directions.
“A customer may tell me that they have a piece of tooling they want to improve on, so I’ll find them the solution. The Stirling Group deals directly with suppliers who will manufacture a better piece of equipment for that customer’s specific needs.”
Alternately, Nathan may visit a customer’s factory and see that they are still running AO and SG wheels. “I’ve had quite a few customers who have gone on to use CBN wheels once I’ve explained the benefits to them. I’ve walked in their shoes as a wood machinist, so I know exactly what they’re about. They may take a bit of time to change over but once they do, they typically ring me and ask ‘why didn’t we do this a long time ago?’”
One customer had a particularly large profile with 12 cutters x 2 cutterheads that they needed to grind. “They used up about five seeded gel wheels and realised there just has to be a better way,” Nathan explains. “Once they started using the CBN wheel, they went from using five wheels for cutting out one profile to less than a quarter of a CBN wheel and did it in seven hours’ less time!”
According to Nathan, the benefits go beyond time savings. “A box of seeded gel wheels is more expensive than one CBN wheel,” he says. “When used correctly, that CBN wheel will do the work of thirty seeded gel or aluminium oxide wheels. This dramatically reduces the consumables cost.”
“To come up with the perfect wheel for each individual customer is a really big bonus,” Nathan says. “We can individualise the grinding wheel to suit the job. CBN wheels give better dimensional accuracy and surface finish, so results are superior. And with the longer lifespan of the CBN wheels, downtime and maintenance costs are reduced too.”
Increase efficiencies, improve results, and save time and money. Reach out to the Stirling Group today to find out how they can work together with your team to find the best tooling solutions for your business.
Article published on Australasian Timber magazine