A firm foundation for technology enhancements providing added value
Technological expertise provides the basis for advanced multitasking in the machine tool industry. By adding technology and process know-how, a standard machining centre can be transformed into an effective tool for efficient complete machining. Additionally, the integration of a diverse range of technological processes helps to strengthen the partnership with customers and to expand the application range of the products. Today, HELLER is implementing numerous additional technologies into the core process of milling, presenting itself as an integrated solutions provider.
Increasingly smaller batch sizes, short delivery times and growing complexity of components require continual optimisation and streamlining of the manufacturing process. As a result, there is a clear trend towards complete machining on a single machine capable of multitasking.
This trend is not altogether new. However, it requires machine manufacturers to provide a correspondingly wide range of products and a high level of solution competence. HELLER has taken a clear stance in this regard: machining centres must be able to do more than meet current requirements. They also need to provide the capability to be used efficiently and productively throughout their complete lifecycle.
Accordingly, HELLER has further developed its expertise in application engineering, ensuring that the company will be able to meet future market requirements. Often, consistently implemented complete machining requires the use of manufacturing technologies atypical for machining centres. The technologies incorporated by HELLER include turning, grinding, shaping, honing or the machining of gears.
Reasonable effort for implementing individual solutions
Meanwhile, the company offers many specific, future-oriented solutions implemented on standard HELLER machining centres rather than special-purpose machines or complex manufacturing systems.
A current example is honing. Often, honing is regarded as a very specific process that requires the use of special honing machines. However, experience has shown that, given the corresponding technological know-how, the operation can be transferred to a machining centre, resulting in a robust and easy to control process. This opens up new possibilities for the complete machining of a broad range of parts, which until now have been manufactured on different types of machines in multiple operations.
The honing process in combination with HELLER's proven out-facing head system, presented for the first time at AMB 2014 in collaboration with Diahon, is a unique solution. The out-facing head integrated in the machining unit controls the honing tools, significantly expanding the range of options available so far for performing honing operations on a machining centre.
Compared to the conventional solution, this mix of technologies allows to achieve a significant increase in precision and process dependability. This has been achieved because the HELLER out-facing head was designed as a universal and open system, eliminating all previously known drawbacks of mechatronics systems.
The company based in Nürtingen also broke new ground when collaborating with one of the world's leading press manufacturers. In addition to the manufacture of prismatic parts, which is a particular core competence of HELLER, the customer had to machine large, double helical cylinder gears for high-speed presses. In close co-operation with external process and programming partners, HELLER developed a solution that was tailor-made to the customer's individual requirements. About a year after the installation of the system, this combination already achieved 98 percent availability.
In similar fashion, a special cycle for eccentric turning was developed specifically for this application. The customer wanted to be able to completely machine a component on a machining centre, including turning of an eccentric fit. HELLER tackled the task, investigated the technical parameters of the machining process and developed a solution using corresponding technology cycles.
Technology enhancement based on classic HELLER DNA
Such interesting expansions can only be developed in collaboration with the customers and by companies providing the necessary process and technology know-how and being capable of using this know-how in a targeted manner, enabling customers to achieve minimal per-piece costs in production.
The highly productive machining centres suited for universal application are an essential ingredient to the overall process and form the basic pre-requisite for these innovative expansions: first and foremost, this includes the 4-axis and 5-axis machining centres from the H and F series and the C series mill/turning centres. While based on these standard products, it is also crucial that technology enhancements provide solutions that are not only useful today but will still be viable in a few years' time.
In addition, HELLER meanwhile provides a broad range of solutions and experience, enabling the company to keep the effort involved within reasonable limits. That is why HELLER speaks of a smart mix of technologies. It is not about upgrading a machine with the maximum range of functions. The key is to configure it in a way to provide the right combination of machining processes tailored to the customer's range of workpieces.
For HELLER, this strategy provides additional potential in the medium and long term, enabling the company to intensity its partnership with customers and to increase its market shares. Firstly, the effort involved is within reasonable limits and secondly, productivity, stability and precision, forming the classic DNA of HELLER, allow to expand the portfolio further on a continual basis during future projects. Additionally, by focusing on the obvious added value offered by multitasking solutions, HELLER is aiming to create a clear differentiation from other competitors.