Rotary transfer machine designed, developed and built in South Africa

One of the first ever ‘South African built’ rotary transfer machines (RTM) has been developed and designed by a collaboration of three innovative companies based in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Hansens Engineering, Granroth and Haldan Consulting combined their expertise to successfully launch the automated 8-station RTM at a function held at Hansens Engineering in November 2013. The automated 8-station RTM not only increases Hansens Engineering’s current capabilities, but also increases its competitive advantage as a first class production facility.

“This project, which only took seven months, marks a huge step forward in technology development in South Africa,” said Erik Hagedorn-Hansen, Managing Director of Hansens Engineering.

“This tri-partnership is one that is based on the sharing of knowledge and expertise. A common ethos amongst these three companies is the aim to develop solutions with greater effectiveness and efficiency than those that are currently present in the marketplace. The success of this project is founded on entrepreneurial spirit and the disruption of the status quo. In essence, this is what is needed to continue igniting development in South Africa,” continued Hagedorn-Hansen, who is the grandson of the original owner of Hansens Engineering, a company that was founded in 1956.

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One of the first ever ‘South African built’ rotary transfer machines (RTM) has been developed and designed by a collaboration of three innovative companies – Hansens Engineering, Granroth and Haldan Consulting – all based in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

“No other machine of its kind, that we know of, has been built and developed in South Africa, highlighting the magnitude of this event.”

The project began back in May 2013 when it was decided that there was a necessity for an optimised machining process at Hansens Engineering. Hansens Engineering produces precision machined components for the global automotive industry, in high volumes. The company’s projected unit volume for 2014 is 20 million parts.

In order for the project to be successful, a complete process improvement strategy had to be undertaken through a unified team effort. The development team comprised of Granroth, as the machine tool builders, and Haldan Consulting, who provided an integrated production management system. Granroth is a specialised automation design and development company.

To facilitate improvement, a system of measurement and analysis needed to be in place. This is where Haldan Consulting came in. Their core product, Haldan MES, measures and analyses manufacturing execution by monitoring the machine’s overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

The rotary transfer machine was designed using an uncomplicated systems approach by including only the necessary components, which results in the machine costing approximately 50% less than other machines of its kind.

The RTM is a modular system which contains both horizontal and vertical machine spindles that are firmly fixed around a precision indexing table. The assembly of this setup is beneficial because it allows for a huge amount of adaptability and versatility in a turnkey machining system, whilst still removing secondary processes.

The process of making a part using a rotary transfer machine is unique because it performs all of the important steps and processes, which would normally have been executed on different machines.

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Richard Warren and Simon Halse from Granroth along with Erik Hagedorn-Hansen from Hansens Engineering in the centre

The setup of the machine allows for a part to be machined from almost any angle and for adjustments to be easily made. It features a utilisation of Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL). MQL accounts for no coolant spillages, as well as a near-dry swarf. This effectively lowers the cost of recycling, while at the same time provides for a much more eco-friendly operation. The machine has also been designed to achieve cycle times of about 10 seconds.

Haldan MES to measure and analyse
The rotary transfer machine is equipped with an integrated Haldan MES system to continuously monitor the machine’s overall equipment effectiveness (or OEE).

The built-in Haldan MES software will help to drive the effective execution of the machine’s manufacturing operations. This system is fundamental to the machine’s ability to achieve goals that have been set for production and improvement. It provides a visual analysis of how well the machine is running at any given time. It also allows for customised reports and trends to be sourced to examine the machine’s overall availability, performance and quality information.

“Haldan MES is Haldan Consulting’s core product. A benefit of using Haldan Consulting’s software is that there is immediate local support available when the need arises. In addition to this, the software also reports losses quickly by providing real-time feedback directly to the shop floor through the use of dashboards. This allows the production team to visualise the effect of these losses on daily production and helps to facilitate effective corrective action. Haldan MES allows for instant access to the manufacturing environment and a client can view live OEE information from anywhere inside the factory, or remotely via the Haldan MES application on their mobile device,” said Laverne Louis, Project Manager at Haldan Consulting.

The introduction of the rotary transfer machine at Hansens Engineering has provided the company with numerous benefits including the cost per part being lowered, which will ultimately increase the company’s competitiveness and profit margins; parts produced are of a better quality, due to the high-precision machining process that removes the need for repositioning of parts for secondary processes; there is a reduced inventory requirement because the machine combines multiple processes into one system, eliminating unnecessary labour and equipment costs and the amount of product throughput has increased due to the quick cycle times per part.

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A different view of the rotary transfer machine

“The machine is financially more cost effective because of its product manufacturing flexibility. It will also allow the company to take on more business than before. Secondly, the machine is more environmentally friendly because there are no oil spills and it produces near-dry swarf, which is easy to recycle. Thirdly, it helps to build Hansens Engineering’s image as a manufacturing leader because the machine is a first of its kind in South Africa. Hansens is gaining a lot of respect amongst customers, suppliers and competitors. Lastly, the machine lends to a much more stimulating working environment for workers because better technology has been introduced into the plant,” concluded Hagedorn-Hansen.

For more information on Hansens Engineering on TEL: 041 451 3825 or visit