I recently returned from a visit to the Taiwan machine tool show, TIMTOS. Besides the usual stand visits to find out about the latest trends and new equipment, I was taken to see several Victor Taichung manufacturing facilities, including the foundry of Victor Taichung, one of Taiwan’s leading machine tool builders based in the country’s manufacturing region in Taichung, about two hours south of Taipei.
In central Taiwan there is an area where over a thousand precision machine companies and tens of thousands of downstream suppliers reside. Called the Golden Valley, it covers approximately 60 square kilometers, and supplies many of the world’s hi-tech businesses, as reported by the Taiwan-based Business Weekly. It has the world’s highest density of precision machine companies, employing 300,000 people with an annual production value of NT$900 billion (US$30 billion).
Without the businesses found in the Golden Valley, the global consumption of one billion iPhones this year would be cut in half and the solar plant owned by Google in the desert would be offline. Without this dynamic region, the semiconductor and display panel industries would face a broken supply chain since the top four equipment suppliers of semiconductors and flat panel displays depend on companies in this area for their components.
Plus, German and Italian auto-parts companies rely on the mechanical equipment produced here. In the automotive industry, General Motors (US), Porsche (Germany) and Hyundai Motor Company (South Korea), all buy their gear wheels from the Golden Valley. Even China, the largest auto market in the world, is dependent on this area to provide tooling and processing equipment.
Taiwan is among the world leaders in machine tool production, despite its size. It is also a very industrious nation. Taiwan is up there with all the developed nations in terms of technology. The manufacturing plants might not be on the grand scale like the bigger facilities in Japan or the USA but with their ambition to increase equipment capabilities and quality while keeping unit prices down, it won’t be long before they are challenging these more illustrious nations. The Taipei 101 building, which was until recently the tallest building in the world, has the world’s two fastest elevators moving 24 passengers at 60 km/h going up 382 metres inside this 508 metre building to the observatory on the 89th floor in 37 seconds
The impressive entrance to the Victor Taichung Chung Kan Road factory in Taichung
At present the company is manufacturing 130 lathes a month and 50 machining centres, consisting of 60 different models. The majority of the machines are assembled at the Chung Kan Road factory in Taichung
For one, Taiwan’s machine tool industry is advancing. The machine tool builders I saw at the show this past March say they are focused on improving the performance, capabilities and quality of their offerings while maintaining their traditionally low unit costs. This was evident in the selection of machines featured at the show, which, I must admit, included more five-axis and turn-mill offerings than I thought I’d encounter. There was also a noticeable selection of large machines, such as horizontal boring mills and vertical turning centers geared toward big oil and aerospace applications. And in addition to integrating more advanced machining capabilities into their designs, many builders explained that they are focused on developing more energy-efficient models. Increasingly aggressive R&D programs have helped in these efforts, supported by shared research parks that have been formed for some of the machine tool builders.
Taiwan’s machine tool industry is growing, too. Approximately 75 percent of machine tools produced in Taiwan are exported. Not surprisingly, China is Taiwan’s main focus for machine exports. With the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which aims to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the Chinese and Taiwanese governments, machinery exports to the Mainland are likely to increase. However, Taiwanese machine tool builders are also looking to emerging markets such as Turkey, Brazil and Russia.
The United States remains one of Taiwan’s top export markets. Many of the models installed are private-labeled by more familiar German, Japanese or American machine tool companies. That said, some Taiwanese brands are very familiar names. These include Feeler (Fair Friend Group), Victor Taichung, Goodway, Leadwell, Tongtai, You Ji and others.
Taiwanese machine tool builders tend to be relatively small, family-owned businesses, but they are well-supported by the national government. This is because the government recognises that manufacturing and machine tool building is vital to the island’s economic growth and development.
Machine tool builders in Taiwan are striving to increase equipment capabilities while keeping unit prices down. Almost 140 of these machine tool builders will participate at EMO 2013, which takes place in September in Hannover, Germany.
Here are a few interesting points
Taiwan is the world’s sixth largest machine tool producer and fourth largest exporter.
Approximately 75 percent of the island’s machine tool production goes to the export market. Taiwan’s export sales of machine tools are estimated to hit a record high of U.S. $4.2 billion in 2012. Data from the Timtos 2013 show organisers indicates that machine tool production increased by 5.2 percent from 2011 to 2012 to a total of $5.43 billion, while total exports increased 5.9 percent to $4.23 billion. And according to the latest World Machine Tool Output and Consumption survey (compiled by Modern Machine Shop publisher Gardner Business Media), Taiwan remained the world’s sixth largest machine tool producer and fourth largest exporter in 2012.
More machines being assembled
All headstocks and spindles used on the Victor Taichung machines are manufactured by the company themselves
Engine components that have been machined on a Victor Vcenter-H400 horizontal machining centre. The test components were due to be inspected by Nissan engineers shortly after our visit and, if passed, Victor was expecting an order for 24 of these machines from Nissan
The machine tool industry is the country’s most important industry by value. There are more than 500 machine tool manufacturers in Taiwan, with most situated in the Taichung area.
Taiwan is among the world leaders in machine tool production despite its size. Taiwan has 23 million people living on an island with an area of 36,188 km², just under half the size of Mpumalanga Province.
Victor Taichung Machinery Works Company
Victor Taichung Machinery Works Company, based in Taichung is an unusual company because it is one of only two companies in Taiwan to have its own foundry. Unlike many Taiwanese companies that just assemble machines, Victor Taichung builds its CNC and injection-moulding machines from the ground up, using its own castings and spindles. The company also uses the Japanese concept of multi-tasking machines, which do both milling and turning at the same time, to manufacture its own products.
Victor Taichung Machinery Works Company was established in 1954 to build shaping machines, by CH Huang, father of the current President Bert Huang. Growth in the company led to the purchase of land and the building of a factory in 1964. However, further growth necessitated a move to a bigger facility in 1973. This facility, the Chung Kan Road factory in Taichung, was one of the three Victor manufacturing plants that we visited. Initially the foundry was also located at this site but in 1992 it was moved to its own site.
Although Victor sold its first engine lathe into the USA in 1970 it was only in 1976 that the company started marketing its machines internationally. All products are now marketed globally under the brand names Victor or Fortune (in North America), which highlights their strong position as one of the leading machine tool manufacturers in Taiwan.
Victor Taichung now has four manufacturing plants in Taiwan and two factories in China. Victor Taichung set up the first of the manufacturing plants in China in 1992. The Zung Tai Precision Machinery Company is based in Tianjin’s Economic and Technical Development Park and manufacture machines solely for the Chinese market.
The company is represented in most industrialised countries worldwide and has nine international subsidiaries. Currently the company employs 900 staff around the world, with the majority of these employed in Taichung.
Manufacturing of conventional lathes for the local market only began in 1975 and the company produced its first CNC lathe in 1979, which was exhibited at the EMO exhibition that year, followed by its first machining centre in 1981.
Victor Taichung has two CNC lathe ranges, the HTL (horizontal turning lathes) and the VTL (vertical turning lathes) range. Both ranges are recognisable by the Vturn prefix before the model number or the series. The machines are offered with direct drive technology, linear motion guideways and heavy-duty box slideways.
Whether a customer needs a highly productive machine or one for heavy duty machining, these CNC lathes are tailor made to suit the needs of any machine shop. Like all of Victor Taichung CNC machine tools, they have been certified with ISO 9001 and accredited with the CE mark.
Victor Taichung also has a wide range of machining centers. The Vcenter range includes both vertical machining centers and horizontal machining centers and the range spans from the rapid Vcenter-A85, ideal for mould makers, to the highly rigid Vcenter-205 (moving column). New concepts have also been introduced like the new optional Heidenhain controller for both the Vcenter-A85 and Vcenter-130.
The horizontal machining centers, with their standard automatic pallet changers, are ideal for incorporating into any flexible manufacturing system. The range is also prefaced with Vcenter and XYZ travels are from 500 x 600 x 500 mm up to 1350 x 1050 x 1050 mm. Spindle speeds
range from 6000 to 15000 rpm.
To ensure maximum rigidity and accuracy hand scraping of critical slideways and mounting surfaces ensures top quality components
Daily production meetings take place on the shopfloor
A lathe being assembled
The wheel machining and turnkey series are offered in 2, 3 or 4-axis configurations on horizontal and vertical lathes and machining centres. Machining of aluminium wheels for the automotive industry has been an important industry for Victor in many countries worldwide
Victor Taichung released its first multi-tasking machine in 2009 and the lathes come with twin built-in spindles, multiple turrets and the machining centres in 4 or 5-axis options.
Headstock machining and boring
To ensure the quality control on the accurate parts such as the headstock and spindle, Victor Taichung has developed their own spindle boring machines to ensure long service life for bearing installation. All the headstocks and spindles, used on the machines mentioned above, are manufactured by Victor Taichung themselves.
All spindles are assembled in-house in a temperature controlled environment and undergo a series of run-in tests of up to 24 hours.
Modern machining, manufacturing, assembly facilities and numbers
65% of components used on the Victor Taichung machines are manufactured in house.
To ensure greater control over the quality of machined parts, the company has invested in two 5-face machining centres that complete all operations on machine beds for the company’s own CNC machines, other machine tool builders in Taiwan and also for export to Japan.
Two FMS lines are used to rigidly control and monitor the machining of various platens and other cast components at its Industrial Park factory, which we also visited.
To further improve production efficiency a computer integrated manufacturing system for sheet metal, the first in Taiwan, has been installed at its recently opened Lu-Kang factory. This factory, which is situated further south of Taichung, is dedicated to sheet metal production using the latest Japanese manufactured laser and press brake production machines.
3D simulation, process management, raw material storage, punching, shearing, laser cutting, folding, nibbling and robot welding are processes that are computer controlled for the production of machine guarding and associated sheet metal parts.
Sheet metal storage automation brings material management into fully automatic operation.
Besides punching functions, the multi-function laser machines accurately cut all kinds of figures enriching the process efficiency of automation. Welding robots used also improve product accuracy and stability.
At present the company is manufacturing 130 lathes a month and 50 machining centres, consisting of 60 different models. The majority of the machines are assembled at the Chung Kan Road factory in Taichung.
The Industrial Park factory, which is only 15 minutes away from the Chung Kan Road factory, is also home to the manufacturing and assembly of the plastic injection moulding machine division and gear production and machine accessories division.
Plastic injection moulding machines
The plastic injection moulding machines (PIM) were developed in 1988 with the support of imported R&D knowledge, and are made up of the VE and VS range, the VR-hydraulic clamping series and the V-alpha fully electric series. The injection moulding machines cover a range from 50-1300 tons (including hydraulic, full electric and toggle machines).
Gear production and machine accessories
This division has recently upgraded its operation with a higher level of quality machines purchased and the transformation of procedural steps. It is because of these commitments that have led the division to a technologically advanced shop floor that can machine and finish a wide range of gears to almost any desired specification and accuracy for the company’s own use as well as manufacturing a wide range of gears for motorcycle (very popular in Taiwan) manufacturers.
Victor Taichung has also made considerable investment to continually improve its R&D capabilities. The R&D center, which is also located at the Industrial Park factory, consists of a CNC laboratory and a PIM laboratory. Modern analysis techniques such as CAE and FEA are extensively used to analyze the dynamic and performance capabilities of all machines.
With the rapid expansion that Victor Taichung has experienced in recent years the internationally renowned BAAN system has been introduced to cope with the production flow and administration data that is generated amongst all the various departments.
Kevin Fisher of Second to None and Ian Simpson, Sales Manager of Victor Fortune South Africa with Victor director DC Lio
Final assembly and inspection
The plastic injection moulding machines (PIM) were developed in 1988 with the support of imported R&D knowledge. The PIM machines are now an integral part of the Victor products
Victor Taichung’s CNC lathes, machining centres and PIM machines have all been awarded with ISO 9001 by internationally acclaimed TÜV Rheinland, along with various national and international awards. The company was also the first Taiwanese machine tool builder to pass the JMI (Japan Mechatronic Institute) inspection and to receive Taiwan’s National Quality Award.
According to a report published by Common Wealth magazine last year Victor Taichung is ranked number three in sales turnover for machine tool builders located in Taiwan. The company has held this position since 2010 and is remarkable since it is a single source company whereas those above it are made up of a number of companies.
Victor’s foundry in Hou-Li in Taichung city
Recognising the importance of castings quality, Victor Taichung established a foundry in early 1973 to support its own utilisation and assure the products consistency. By cooperation with Meehanite Metal Co. and importing the process management system in 1986, the Victor foundry took a giant leap forward whereby it could offer other machine tool builders, both locally and internationally, machined castings.
Meehanite® cast iron
The foundation of any machine tool is the base and this must offer rigidity, strength and above all else high damping properties. These characteristics are best found in quality nodular grey cast iron, produced in Victor’s own ISO-9001 certified foundry. All castings are made following the Meehanite process, recognised worldwide as the quality mark for good castings.
Castings manufactured are mainly for industrial machine tools including the beds, saddles and frames but they also cast cylinders, gears and bearings for the automotive industry, as well as general machine castings.
Ductile cast iron
The foundry also manufactures castings in ductile cast iron for industrial machine use, automotive castings such as cylinders, crank shafts, gears, bearings, castings for the plastic injection moulding machine division and castings for the valve and pump industries.
The foundry has for some time operated under the furan no-bake moulding system, has one four ton water cooled type cupola furnace and three 1 500kW three ton high frequency induction furnaces capable of producing an output capability of 1 200 tons per month.
The melting composition and specifications are subjected to C, Si, CE value, wedge inspection and physical testing, in addition to penetrating casting texture vacuum emission spectrometer and metallurgical microscope.
Castings are generally done in the 10 ton region although the foundry is capable of manufacturing 20 ton castings.
Gear production and machine accessories. This division has recently upgraded its operation with a higher level of quality machines purchased and the transformation of procedural steps that have led the division to a technologically advanced shop floor that can machine and finish a wide range of gears to almost any desired specification and accuracy for the company’s own use as well as manufacturing a wide range of gears for motorcycle (very popular in Taiwan) manufacturers
Completed castings ready for delivery to the Victor Taichung machine shop and assembly facility, also based in Taichung. Victor Taichung Machinery is an unusual company because it is one of only two firms in Taiwan to have its own foundry. Unlike many Taiwanese companies that just assemble machines, Victor Taichung builds its CNC and injection-moulding machines from the ground up, using its own castings and spindles. The company supplies other machine tool builders, both locally and internationally, with machined castings
Victor Taichung celebrated its 60th anniversary in March with a series of functions. Alan Meredith of Victor Fortune South Africa has been associated with the company for nearly 30 years and is one the longest serving international representatives
Victor Taichung’s Hou-Li Meehanite licensed foundry can also produce up to 50 tons of investment casting components per month.
This type of production is ideal for smaller intricate components like Victor Taichung’s valves as it produces a fine matt finish and most importantly can allow tight tolerances. Not only does Victor Taichung make use of the investment capabilities of the Hou-Li plant but also such industries as sports and leisure equipment, catering equipment, sanitation and military hardware.
New models launched at Timtos 2013
Victor have recently introduced several new models of machine tools into their range, one of which is the all new Vcenter-H630HS horizontal machining centre.
Within the range of HMC’s that Victor offers is the popular H400, the H500, an existing H630 and the H1000. The new model offers superior performance in terms of speed to that of the current H630. The new model has faster rapid traverse movements, a faster 10,000rpm spindle and a rotary pallet changing system, which differs from that on the H630 machine.
A rotary pallet system means that the pallet on the machine can be changed automatically, within cycle, much faster. Historically the H630 had a shuttle system, which is effective but slower and if an engineer is looking to save time between parts, then the rotary is a more favourable solution.
The new Victor Vcenter-H630HS is built on a solid cast base, offering the utmost in stability and rigidity. The machine is also equipped with a Big Plus BBT50 taper spindle, traverse feeds of 48 metres per minute, hollow ball-screws, a high power built-in 30kw spindle,
10 000rpm spindle with BT-50 tooling and XYZ of 1 000 x 850 x 900 mm.
The new AX350 VMC 5-axis machining centre
With a reputation for supplying high precision 3-axis machining centres, Victor has just launched their new 5-axis machining centre. The AX350 VMC is driven by a Fanuc control system, is equipped with a fully integrated 2-axis tilt/turn table providing engineers the platform to machine both 3 + 2 and full 5-axis, it is constructed as a fixed column C-framed VMC with high rigidity for heavy cutting and comes with either a 12 000 or 15 000rpm spindle. The machine also has a large Z-axis travel, which is preferable for the tilting table concept. The tilting table is a 350mm diameter trunnion type to lower the table surface for loading of bigger and heavier parts. The rotary table has a roller cam drive instead of normal worm and wheel to give no backlash and higher accuracies. Travels on the machine are 650 x 480 x 540 mm (XYZ).
Vturn-Q200 – TurnMill centre features twin spindles with three servo turrets, each with Y-axis
Among the machine tools launched at Timtos 2013 by Victor Taichung was a production turnmill centre that is designed to run bar, shaft and chucked parts in a production environment. The machine combines quite a number of innovative details and is designed to provide a unique overall performance in the field of medium sized production turning of workpieces up to 850-mm turning length and 330-mm diameter respectively.
The Vturn-Q200 turning and milling centre is equipped with twin spindles and three servo turrets, each with Y-axis and hold 48 tools, 16 of which are live tools, which virtually eliminates lost productivity from tool changes. It features one-pass complete turning, machining and finishing as well as reducing part cycle times.
The turning center offers multi-point machining with process integration, combining turning and milling capabilities in one machine. Its three 6 000-rpm milling motors can simultaneously machine two flat surfaces (top and bottom balanced cutting) on one spindle and one surface on the other. The spindles feature 22/25 kW motors with 5 000-rpm motors.
The Y-axis have travels of 45 mm, X-axis 180 mm, 850mm between centres and up to 36 m/min feed rate on the Z–axis.
Examples were shown where up to 35 and 56% savings on time can be achieved on the Vturn-Q200 as compared to a two spindle/one turret and a one spindle/one turret machine, respectively.
Vturn-P16 with Easyway robot
The new model of 6″ and 8″ chuck size CNC lathes from Victor Taichung – the Vturn-P16/P20 – was redesigned based on the VTplus-15 and VTplus-20. The machine is designed to provide high production component machining for a variety of materials in a small footprint. It features a one-piece slant bed casting for rigidity.
Dr. Eng. Yoshiharu Inaba (President & CEO) of Fanuc writing a message of good luck and wishes on the occasion of Victor’s 60th anniversary. Current Victor Taichung President and son of the founder, Bert Huang, look on
Alan and Dudley Meredith of Victor Fortune South Africa with Wayne Hsueh, International Marketing Director of Victor Taichung, in the middle
According to the company, the new lathes provide higher feeds of 30 m/m and wider LM guides of 35 mm. The Vturn-P16 features an 11 kW spindle and the Vturn-P20 a 15kW. The swing over bed is 520 mm, the maximum turning diameter is 280 mm with around 430 mm center distance. It features Victor Taichung’s hydraulic clamping servo turret with curvic coupling for accuracy and is encased in ribbed headstock and angular thrust bearings for rigidity and precision.
Standard features include a fully programmable tailstock, chip conveyor, all Fanuc control, spindle motor, servo motor and components.
The manual tool presetter is compatible with a parts catcher (hydraulic). An Easyway robot or gantry robot may be utilised with the lathe as a turning cell for unmanned operation.
I have visited manufacturing facilities in the USA, Europe, Turkey and Japan. My visit to Victor Taichung in Taiwan clearly showed me that the island’s manufacturing environment has evolved and is comparable to the more recognised builders in these countries. This was not the perception I had before visiting Taiwan.
To Victor Fortune South Africa for arranging that I attend Timtos 2013 and the factory visits.
For more information contact Victor Fortune on TEL: 011 392 3800
The new AX350 VMC 5-axis machining centre
The Vturn-Q200 TurnMill centre features twin spindles with three servo turrets, each with Y-axis
The Vturn-Q200 TurnMill centre