It’s all about high-feeds and high-speeds – Jacob Harpaz, President and CEO of the IMC Group

New trends in advanced machining contribute to higher productivity and a reduction in cost per part.

In an exclusive interview before the South African launch of TaeguTec’s new and wide range of inserts and cutters Jacob Harpaz, President and CEO of the IMC Group, emphasised that clients were looking to improve the productivity of their equipment and reduce the cost per part. And the only way you can do that, in this age of advanced machining that is feeding into Industry 4.0, is to increase the feeds and speeds of your CNC machine cutting process. He was quick to add that both tooling manufacturers and machine builders were working together to satisfy their customers with this new train of thought in the industry. Harpaz accentuated that the technology is being applied to turning, milling, drilling, clamping, parting and grooving.

“Manufacturers are looking at saving time and money in their production operations. This is in overheads, manpower and machinery. They want the cost per part to be reduced, which will improve their bottom line. Every second makes a difference.”

“Companies like TaeguTec have taken heed of this call from industry and have introduced a new range of cutting tools designed to make the most out of manufacturing advances promised by the fourth industrial revolution. This new SFeedTec series of high-speed, high-feed cutting tools is intended to be fit for the era of Industry 4.0 and the smart factory that we are currently experiencing. I can’t spell it out enough of how the digital domain is impacting manufacturing and how Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is influencing all decisions on productivity and costs within all environments, not just manufacturing.”

Elaborating his thoughts on world trends Harpaz said: “Just under two years ago I said by 2030 there will be big changes in the automotive sector, for example. The major OEMs are moving away from the internal combustion engine, which will mean much less metal removal will be required. There will be a wider use of composite materials and the introduction of 3D printing also means less metal removal. Look at the new Boeing 787 – there are now over 100 3D printed components being used in its assembly. We have to prepare for these changes,” explained Harpaz.

“But it is happening faster than we think. In 2018 the world had one of its best years ever but in 2019 it was a disaster as Governments, particularly in Europe, ramped up their obsession towards electric mobility. We all know that it is the future, as is autonomous cars, and it is having a huge effect on those of us in the metalworking industry.”

“Industry 4.0’s impact will not just come through sophisticated new technology such as sensors, process monitoring and acquiring machining data, but in the integration of factories and the supply and distribution of consumables used in manufacturing and products leaving the factory,” according to Harpaz.

“Look at the impact that a company like Amazon has had on sales and marketing through its digitisation platform. We have moved into an era of e-commerce and distribution and inventories with vending machines. Again Amazon are pushing the boundaries. Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. They created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With their Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! Fantastic for everybody.”

“Artificial Intelligence, including machine learning, is also having a huge impact. It is not great to say it but AI is going to replace humans. We are now being provided with big data to make informed decisions and increase our productivity. We should be calling it the Digital or Cyber Revolution and not the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“Following a bad year in 2019, this year has not started off positively, especially with the Corona virus making an impact not just on China but the whole world. If you consider that China consumed 35% of the world’s machine tools in 2018, and this figure will be similar for 2019 but on reduced units, although China did recover slightly in the last quarter, you get a clear idea of what influence China has on world economies. This is compared to 9% for the US, 8% for Germany and 7% for Japan.”

“Now with the Corona virus the population of China are being instructed not to go to work, and rightly so, until the world comes up with a solution for the virus. The impact is two-fold. China is not consuming and China is not manufacturing for the rest of the world.”

“Despite this we have to look forward and plan for our advanced machining revolution in our industry. Although we like to say as cutting tool manufacturers that we have been driving forward the higher speeds and higher feeds concept, we could not do it without the machine tool builders. And then there are the cutting fluids.”

“The machine tool builders are now manufacturing a new generation of CNC machines to cope with the faster speeds and feeds. You now require less torque to remove the same amount of metal as compared to a few years ago but in less time. Chip removal is also taking major leaps forward as is machine vibration and coolant adaption. MQL (Minimum Quantity Lubrication) can provide significant savings and improved performance in the right applications. Through coolant – coolant directed at the cutting edge through the tool, therefore there is no requirement for external coolant, is having a direct effect on cutting tool and tool holder life. More cost savings and on production time.”

“Cutting tools will have to adapt to remove less metal but at much faster speeds and feeds. The cutting tool can have a huge impact on productivity. Not every company can buy the latest machine tools but changing to our cutters means the tools can run at very high speeds with a minimum amount of downtime. TaeguTec’s new tools will enable machinists to perform metal cutting at a rate similar to that found in the woodworking industry,” said Harpaz.

Harpaz gave an example of how big savings per part can be made on faster speeds and feeds. The material costs are fixed at 22%, it is generally accepted that tooling costs are 3% and the other 75% are made up of overheads (21%), manpower (28%) and machining (26%). Because you are a good client, even if you got your tooling for free, he stated, you would not make any significant savings on the overall cost per part. But if you reduced your machining time per part, one cost that is flexible and not fixed, and time on the machine, such as setup, he continued, then you are realising real savings and this is where cutting tool and machine manufacturers are coming to the party by developing new generation products and advanced machining solutions.

Looking forward Harpaz believes that more cost savings will be achieved with the introduction of more advanced coatings of the tooling, as well as the material grades. “But this takes time with extended R&D taking place and cannot be introduced overnight.”

“Savings are also being made through vending machine systems. Industry 4.0 is not just about cutting process data, tool monitoring and sensors – it’s also about the most efficient supply and distribution network that you setup in your factory.”

“Industry 4.0 is also influencing our thinking in cutting tool development. For example, will a cutting tool be digitally enabled that it will be able to predict a possible spindle breakage? Yes, I believe so.”

“Although it is happening already, in future, your cutting tool supplier is going to have to be more of a solution provider, rather than just a hardware supplier. Better machines, better tooling and advanced software is all available. Now the individual or the company just has to contribute to the advanced machining revolution,” concluded Harpaz who has been with the IMC Group for nearly 50 years.

For more information contact TaeguTec SA on TEL: 011 362 1500 or visit