With continued increases in the workload through our CNC milling section the need for additional capacity couldn’t be denied..........wanting to further increase our levels of automation a horizontal machining centre with pallet pool seemed the obvious choice. Horizontal machining centres aren't known for being small and space is becoming an issue so following investigation we decided to go with the Kitamura HX250ig with 10 pallet pool supplied through Dugard machine tools. Kitamura are known for their quality machines, their accuracy and speed. The HX250ig has all of those features and more, fitted with ten 250mm square pallets which can be scheduled to allow many hours of un-manned production, 102 tool loader to allow standard tooling to be left in the machine for quicker setups and plenty of space for sister tooling. We opted for Renishaw part and tool probing to allow in cycle inspection and tool breakage sensing and well as rapid tool setting.
The pallets will be loaded with a mixture of cubes, tri-cubes and tombstones which suit the microloc vice system manufactured and supplied by Microloc here in the UK.
Looking to improve on our inspection facilities, increase accuracy and improve speed the decision was taken to replace our aging manual CMM machine, The Aberlink Axiom Too was selected because of its intuitive control system and ease of use and it's fully manufactured in the UK. The full CNC aspect of the machine is quick and simple to program and can allow for long inspection cycles to be run without operator interaction, coupled with the probe change rack and fixturing grids inspection of multiple parts is easily achievable
Looking to automate our shaft style components and improve efficiency the decision was made to invest in a further CMZ CNC lathe, having had excellent performance from the three machines installed at the beginning of 2019. The TD range was selected for its increased power and rigidity and the machine was heavily specified to allow un-manned production including gantry shaft loader & work stocker, 16 station tool turret, hydraulic steady rest and programmable tailstock. Shaft components up to 80mm dia and 600mm long (to a maximum 22kg) can be automatically processed through this setup and larger components can be manually loaded if required
With the large range of component sizes that we can produce we were becoming aware of a need to improve the inspection accuracy and times in particular on larger components which couldn't fit on our CMM. The Faro Arm Quantum was the obvious choice and easily covers the largest parts we can produce, the CAM2 software allows simple measurement of complex forms and features which in some cases were unable to be measured. The Faro arm is also portable so can be set on the machine beds to allow in process inspection of critical features.
Looking to further improve our service to customers two Impact marking machines from Gravotech have been installed. These marking machines operate on the dot-peen principle for permanent marking onto parts. One machine has been set up with a CNC controlled 4th axis rotary unit to allow part marking around the circumference of a circular component, the second machine is dedicated for flat part marking. These machines are able to mark QR codes and logos as well as the normal alpha-numeric text
Continuing the investments into automation an automatic pallet changer has been installed on our Hurco VM5i. Due to the types of work completed on the VM5i as well as the internal size of the machine the pallet changer was the natural choice to improve efficiency. This installation will allow our operators to change the parts outside of the machine whilst the machine is still in production on the opposing pallet, our set up utilises three 5th Axis double vices per pallet to increase parts per pallet in the machine, the pallets change in seconds ensuring minimal spindle idle time
Looking to add automation to the milling section and following on from the sucess of our Robojob/CMZ cell earlier in the year a Robojob Mill Assist was selected to be installed to one of our exsisting Hurco VM10Ui 5 axis milling machines. Working with Robojob's UK distributor Hydrafeed Ltd specifications were tied down to suit our needs including a pneumatic actuated vice within our tight space requirements with integral rotary union to remove issues with air supply lines being tangled within the rotary movements of the trunion table. Another key factor in selecting a robot loading system with pneumatic vice rather than a pallet changing system was to reduce operator fatigue, allowing large batch runs to automatically fed and clamped into the machine rather than the operator having to open and close the machine vice potentially hundreds or thousands of times. The Robojob system utilises industry leading Fanuc robotics and Robojobs own control software, which is so intuitive and quick to program small batches are economic to set and run whilst still allowing fast effecient running of large batch sizes.
We've now moved into the neighbouring unit, meaning we now occupy the entire building – all 8000 sq ft!! The additional space will be used for manual machining operations including grinding, lapping, honing and horizontal boring, goods in and out, general storage and inspection. This additional space also contains a mezzanine which will be used for electric guitar manufacture :-)
With workload increasing and skill staff becoming harder to find the need for automation was becoming more and more a necessity. Having looked at the market at the various systems available for machine loading with our main requirements being ease of use and flexibility the Robojob system stood out as the best fit for our needs. Robojob's UK distributor Hydrafeed Ltd worked closly with our requirements, due to the large variation in the components we manufacture we needed to be able to handle a wide range of billet sizes as well as load shafts. The proposal included the rise and fall work stocker to allow the maximum number of components to be set on the workstocker at any one time as well as a pallet system which could be fitted with Vee rails allowing shafts to be loaded into the machine using a two point gripper head. The robot's loading path was also carefully programmed around the fixed steady’s in the machine giving us even more flexibility on the jobs that this setup could handle.
With our three CNC lathes starting to age and become less reliable the decision was taken to replace them, due to their position within the factory it made sense to replace the three machines together. Following on from visiting the Mach show for a number of years and always being impressed with the CMZ lathes seen at the show investigations into the replacements began looking at CMZ but also a number of other manufacturers. Having weighed up all the options, compared machine specifications and prices CMZ was selected as the manufacturer of choice, and following a trip to their factory in Spain to see how the machines are manufactured the order was placed for three new machines built entirely to our specifications. The manufacturing facilities at CMZ in Spain were very impressive and being able to see the machines from the raw castings through to the finished machine dispatch gave every confidence in the quality and performance of these machines. The machines selected were ~
TA15 with live tooling, Y axis, Servo Tailstock and Hydrafeed barfeed
TA25 with live tooling, Y axis, Servo tailstock, steady rest and robot interface
TX66Y2 with twin live tool turrets each with a Y axis, sub spindle and Hydrafeed barfeed
With the continued need to accomodate larger and larger parts along with our desire and need to ensure our production machinery doesn't become too old the decision was made to replace our first two machining centres for new Hurco machining centres.
Our first machining centre, a Hass mini mill, was replaced with a Hurco VM5i. The Hurco VM5i is a fully enclosed and capable CNC machining centre featuring a 16 position side mounted tool changer. With similar work envelope to the mini mill the VM5i allows more complex work to be completed in a single operation imporving work flow and reducing handling of the components
Our second machining centre and first Hurco machine, a Hurco VM1 was replaced with a Hurco VM30i. The VM30i has increased X, Y & Z travels over the original VM1. With X travels of 1275mm much larger parts can now be machined improving efficiency and reducing handling of the work piece
Both Machines feature the new Hurco MAX5 CNC control which is easily one of the most powerful and user freindly CNC controls on the market
Being aware that the work being undertaken was increasingly becoming larger in size, the decision was taken to replace our Excel centre lathe and aging Multiturn 2000 flat bed CNC lathe. Both machines had served us well but needing to continue to meet the demands of our customers meant their capacity was being stretched more & more. Following investigation of the market and available machines to meet our needs a short list was drawn up and further evalutated at Mach 2106. Following a visit to the show and seeing the machines in the flesh an order was placed with 600 UK for an Alpha 1460 (1500mm centres) and a New Magnum LS (2000mm centres)
Commenting upon the purchase, Managing Director, Mr Darren Grainger says: "The larger capacity end of the work we do, is also the lower quantity of our work. We have all the latest CNC machine tool technology, but with the Colchester Magnum centre lathe, we can just hop on the machine, do a quick turnaround job and get it out the door in the time that many CNC jobs would take to set.
The Colchester Magnum also has the largest diameter to length ratio of all our machines and it will also take the heaviest parts. There are some jobs that come through the door that have to go on the Magnum centre lathe as they wouldn't fit on our other machines and we just couldn’t take these jobs on otherwise."
"The Colchester and Harrison brands are the most reputable and longstanding machines out there. When buying the Magnum, we already had a number of 600 UK machines and we didn't want to buy a far eastern manufactured machinet, as we had been down that route before."
Referring to the machine specification, Mr Grainger continues: "Whilst I have gone for a machine with an 800mm swing over the 660mm variant, the bed is wider and the machine is heavier than any other machine in its class. For the Magnum, it was about having some confidence in the brand you were buying and I wanted to know that what I was getting was going to be suitable for what we wanted to do.
Everything on the lathe is heavy duty, right down to the tailstock and steadies. All the key features are 30-40% bigger and regarding the cost, the machine is more expensive than some variants, but this is all about the longevity and build quality of the Colchester Magnum means it should last about 30 years or more."
With this version of the machine being 2 metres between centres, the Magnum arrived at the same time as the Harrison Alpha 1460XS CNC combination lathe, also from 600 UK.
The Alpha 1460XS was supplied with a tooling turret and this machine works in synergy with the Magnum. As Mr Grainger says: "Sometimes we'll use the machines as a 'mini-cell' with both machines running different operations on the same job. The machines complement each other very well.
Everything on the two machines has been supplied by 600 UK with the chucks provided by Pratt Burnerd International. The workholding runs very precisely and efficiently with no issues whatsoever and that is what we want from our machine tools and the suppliers."
See our interview with MTDCNC.com - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3ur5jS5WtU
With an increasing need to have components lapped to highly polished finished, the decision was made to invest is a suitable machine to complete this task in house. A Kemet 15 diamond lapping machine was selected . The Kemet 15 machine can lap components upto a diameter of 140mm and produces optically flat surfaces to very high levels of finish. This investment also gives us complete control of time scales for improved lead times
With an increasing need to have components centreless ground, the decision was made to invest is a suitable machine to complete this task in house. A Cincinati 2OM centreless Grinder, fully rebuilt to factory specification was purchased from a centreless grinding machine specialist. The 2OM machine has a maximum grinding diameter of 76mm and either through or plunge grinding operations possible which covers all of our needs as well as giving extra capacity. This investment also gives us complete control of time scales for improved lead times
In order to improve efficiency on the milling section and move the simplier work from the more complex and capable machines a XYZ Opp2 has been installed. The Opp2 is a compact CNC milling machine designed to complete the second operations from other machining centres or CNC lathes.
Taking up as much floor space as an office desk the Opp2 allows the larger machining centres to concentrate on more complex parts requiring more tool changes
Needing to replace an aging radial arm drill a new Bema 1675 was selected for it's rugged construction and large capacity
With continued groth on the milling side of our business a need for a further CNC machining centre soon became another consideration. It was a natural step to install a second Hurco VM10ui 5 axis machine due to the sucess we had experienced with our first VM10u
With the work being completed by Hi-Spec Precision becoming phyiscally larger it was soon aparent that investment was needed to improve the effiency in how large turned parts were being processed.
As floor space within the factory was becoming tight and the work generally being disk type rather than shafts the decision was taken to investigate vertical CNC lathes. Having considered a number of manufacturers Hyundai Wia were selected, supplied by TW Ward. Commenting on the decision to invest in a Hyundai Wia vertical turning centre, Managing director, Darren Grainger says "The LV800R vertical turning centre gave us the capacity to turn up to 800mm dia for lengths up to 195mm long or 710mm dia for lengths upto 800mm long, large boxway construction mean the machine is rigid enough to take heavy duty cuts and with a weight limit of 500kg on the chuck the biggest of our current work is easily handled with plenty of headroom to take on larger and heavier components"
With an increasing need to have components honed, the decision was made to invest is a suitable machine to complete this task in house. A Delapina Auto Stroker honing maching was selected due to it's large capacity range. This investment also gives us complete control of time scales for improved lead times
With the milling section of the business becoming busier we needed to add more spindles to be able to cope with the levels of work being experienced, with a desire to move on with technology and to continue to improve efficiency and accuracy by reducing handling 5 axis milling was seen to be the way forward. Having investigated the available machines and manufacturers the decision was made to continue with Hurco as our manufacturer of choice. The VM10u was a natural choice, already having a VM1 & VM10 our programmers and setters were very used to the controls and how the machines work. The introduction of the VM10u was smooth and a natural progression from our 3 axis Hurco machines
Whilst the majority of our use is positional milling, 3+2 axis work the VM10u is more than capable of simultaneous 5 axis milling
Having supplied into the hydraulic valve and power unit market since business began meant we produced a high amount of small components with exacting tolerances and finish requirements. We had been producing all parts through our barfeed turning centres, but with bar capacities of 50mm and 66mm realistically these machines were too large to produce sub 20mm dia parts efficiently.
Knowing sliding head lathes were the way forward, investigation into the types of machine available began. After looking into various manufacturers a trip to MACH 2012 confirmed that the Tornos Gamma 20/6 was the machine that best fitted our needs.
Mr Grainger recalls : “We had an increasing demand for smaller diameter work that our existing CNC turning centres were not geared for. Additionally, we were having reliability issues, so
the acquisition of a new and smaller turning centre would cater for the new work and ease the load on other machines whilst improving lead times. We knew MACH 2012 was around the corner, but couldn’t afford to take more than a day at the show investigating the available machines. I started to investigate all the leading machine tool suppliers online and watched numerous video footage. It was the footage of a Tornos Gamma on YouTube that took me straight to their stand at MACH 2012. I was given a demo to confirm that it could do everything I had seen in the YouTube video and I shook hands on it with Tornos on the very first day of the show”
"The Gamma 20 also offered more tooling positions and more driven head tooling stations as standard, built in high pressure coolant and a guide bush/non guide bush system. All this made the Tornos a more cost effective and attractive solution for us, a company taking its first step into the sliding head market,”
Read the artical about our Tornos purchase from the Tornos Deco magazine - https://www.tornos.com/sites/tornos.com/files/data/subsidiaries/Tornos_UK/PDF/dm_64_hispec_eng.pdf
To keep pace with an ever growing work load on our milling section another Hurco machine has been installed. The VM10 is a newer version of our older VM1 with slightly increased travels on each axis.
Following a decision to ensure our Health & Safety policies and systems were current and met with the required standards after our move into our new premises a local self employed consultant was selected to undertake the task. During risk assesment of the operation of the CNC Machining centres the handling of components and cleaning by use of a compressed air line after the machining operation was classed as high risk of potential injury to the operator.
To overcome this issue the "cleatec" fan system manufactured by Lang was selected, this simple idea consists of a fan with spring loaded blades, when mounted in a standard milling chuck and stationary the blades remain in the folded position allowing the fan to enter the machines tool changer without obstruction. Once loaded in the spindle and rotated at the suggested RPM the blades open producing a powerful blast of air. Simple moves accross the machine bed result in the swarf and excess coolant being blown clear of the working area within the machine. This has allowed quicker change over of parts as the operator has less need to use compressed air to clean the working area, reduced the compressed air consumption within the shop and removed "in cycle" pauses to clear swarf between rough and finish cutting cycles aiding un-manned operation
Cleantec Fan in Action - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQwvAkpZA_Q
Essential Safety Solutions - http://www.essentialsafetysolutions.co.uk/
Following an "eye opening" visit to the Mach 2010 Show, at the NEC in Birmingham, Hi-Spec Precision Engineering have just installed a new large capacity centre lathe to replace an aging machine on their shop floor.
Darren Grainger of Hi-Spec Precision Engineering comments "We initially visited the Mach show with the aim of seeing the alternative CNC technologies which were available with a view to a longer term investment. After a visit to the Excel Machine Tools stand and a look at the products on offer I was surprised at how competitive a new centre lathe was, and knowing the problems caused by an aging lathe, bought when I started the business, a new lathe was a very attractive possibility. Although the majority of our production is through our CNC machines the manual machining section is still a very important part of our business, allowing us to offer a complete range of services to our customers in terms of component size, complexity and quantity"
Following the show, and during discussions with Excel Machine Tools, a larger capacity lathe, than that seen at the show, was selected to ensure the widest range of work could be covered. As Hi-Spec Precision complete such a varied range of components ranging from small hydraulic poppet's measuring 5mm diameter by 5mm long to shafts for rock crushers, which can be up to 180mm diameter by 1500mm long, the larger capacity machine ensured more longevity from this investment.
Due to a vast influx in work between June 2010 and September 2010 installation plans for the new machine had to be re-arranged several times. Mr Grainger comments "Despite having to move the delivery of the machine back several times, and at short notice, Excel were very helpful and understanding and when the machine was delivered Excel also helped move some existing machinery from our premises to allow the new machine to fit in where required"
The D660 lathe has a between centres distance of 2000mm and can swing up to 660mm diameter over the bed, 900mm x 250mm long if the gap piece is removed. The machine was supplied 'fully tooled' with 400mm diameter 4 jaw chuck, 450mm diameter face plate, travelling steady and fixed steady which can accommodate up to 220mm diameter. The large 105mm diameter spindle bore combined with the machines bed length will enable Hi-Spec Precision to undertake larger work than previously possible. Mr Grainger also comments "The first job on the new machine was a small pusher for an antique watch. I was initially worried about the sensitivity of the tail stock when drilling a 0.8mm dia hole through the part for a M1 thread but was very pleased that the tailstock can have its sensitivity adjusted simply by selecting an alternative ratio directly at the tail stock, this made drilling such a small hole effortless with no worry of the drill breaking. So far I am very happy with both the machine and the service received from Excel Machine Tools and look forward to working with them as our other manual machinery is modernised"
Hi-Spec Precision Engineeing has recently installed a Safetykleen automatic component cleaning machine. This “hot wash” cleaning machine has been introduced to further enhance the quality of our finished products and to meet the strict cleanliness requirements of our “fluid power” industry customers, ensuring our components can be used by our customers without the need for further cleaning. Key features of this equipment are ~
Due to our numerous investments in CNC machine tools from 600 UK a press release was organised by 600 Lathes as our T8MSY CNC turning centre was being installed. Click on the following link to see the press release as seen in the Machine Mart magazine.....