Swasap, the only African railway axle manufacturer, is currently investing in new equipment to increase its machining capabilities and enhance its inspection and testing procedures.
“Manufacturing safety critical axles for the rail transport industry is demanding in terms of increasingly stringent standards being applied worldwide, especially in passenger rail vehicles. Growing trade liberalisation over the past few decades has afforded Swasap the opportunity to expand its export markets, especially into Europe and North America. This in turn has resulted in Swasap developing new methods and manufacturing processes to ensure it meets the expectations of its clients,” said Derek Anderson, Managing Director of Swasap.
“As cities worldwide move further towards mass transport this has created demand for many more additional passenger rail coaches. This trend is expected to continue over the coming years. By positioning itself to offer the best worldwide standards of quality, Swasap has been able to win major contracts over the years to supply axles for major OEM rolling stock manufacturers both for South African and export markets.”
Swasap has invested in two new horizontal turning centers – lathes that can do a number of different operations on one machine. One of the machines is a Takisawa LS00ML30, a boxway constructed CNC lathe with live tooling
“Part of the development to be able to compete successfully against the world’s top northern hemisphere wheelset manufacturers has been the requirement to meet stringent certification standards as required in Europe, the UK, the USA and Canada as well as those required in smaller passenger rail markets such as Australia.”
“In 2015, Swasap achieved EN13261 certification which is a mandatory standard in many European countries as well as for European OEM rolling stock manufacturers involved in home and export markets. In addition, Swasap is certified to supply the UK, American and Canadian markets as well as most countries globally.”
“The certifications open the doors to further opportunities to expand sales, thus creating work opportunities in Ekurhuleni. We are constantly looking to improve our manufacturing processes and performance and you can only do this by investing in machinery, methods and people.”
The Takisawa LS00ML30 has a swing of 800mm, a turning length of 3 000mm, a spindle speed is 2 000rpm and bar capacity is 105mm. The machine has been supplied by Takisawa’s new agents in South Africa – 600SA Machine Tools – and will do roughing and drill and tap operations
The two new CNC lathes can complete a number of complex operations that would previously have been carried out on five traditional machines
“This has resulted in Swasap winning orders to supply rail subway markets overseas. The increase in demand for Swasap axles means the manufacturing facilities have had to be continually expanded and upgraded over the past 30 years. Currently a new factory facility is being built for high technology axles for export worldwide. Over R20 million has already been invested in this facility and a further R10 million is planned for this year.”
New machining equipment
“One of the areas we are constantly looking at is our machining departments. It could be the need for a milling tool that could meet tighter cycle times or a machine to perform multiple tasks for maximising the life of milling tools and reducing tool inventory.”
“Rather than use several machines to manufacture an axle, each of them doing a specific process, Swasap looked at modern equipment to do a number of different operations on one machine. One can set up a cell of machines but this would require moving the component from one machine to another, adding extra costs and time.”
Swasap have also purchased a Victor Vturn-45 horizontal CNC turning center, a heavy cutting slant bed lathe with a larger spindle for turning lengths from 1 250mm to 4 250mm. The bar capacity is 117.5mm and the spindle speed is 2 000rpm
Swasap is the only African railway axle manufacturer
“Today, machine tools feature state-of-the-art technology to give manufacturers the ability to perform complete part-processing operations in single setups, which has transformed the entire industry. Naturally shops want access to the most advanced technology available but as machine tools grow more and more complex, factors like operator skill levels become important considerations. The solution is to tailor technology to production needs.”
“For the new line Swasap settled on two new lathes, one for roughing and the other for finishing.
European and much of North American passenger rail axles are designed hollow. This is not only to reduce weight but to allow in-service ultrasonic testing at a fraction of the cost of testing solid axles. The new line has been designed with a deep hole drilling and honing facility allowing Swasap to meet the very tight tolerances required by the customer.”
“In addition, our company has invested in two new CNC lathes that can complete a number of complex operations which would previously have been carried out on five traditional machines.”
Takisawa LS-800ML30 CNC lathe with live tooling
“We added a Takisawa LS00ML30, a boxway constructed CNC lathe with live tooling. The machine has a swing of 800mm and a turning length of 3 000mm. The spindle speed is 2 000rpm and bar capacity is 105mm.”
“The machine has been supplied by Takisawa’s new agents in South Africa – 600SA Machine Tools and will do our roughing and drill and tap.”
Victor Vturn-45 horizontal CNC turning center
“We introduced a Victor Vturn-45 horizontal CNC turning center, a heavy cutting slant bed lathe with a larger spindle for turning lengths from 1 250mm to 4 250mm. The bar capacity is 117.5mm and the spindle speed is 2 000rpm. Both machines have been installed in a new factory that is adjacent to our existing buildings.”
The increase in demand for Swasap axles means the manufacturing facilities have had to be continually expanded and upgraded over the past 30 years. Currently a new factory facility is being built for high technology axles for export worldwide. Over R20 million has already been invested in this facility and a further R10 million is planned for this year
Swasap also traditionally carries out assembly work of wheels, bearings and axles, supplying to a number of loyal clients over many years
“To conclude the setup of the new factory, Swasap expects delivery soon from Europe of both a new magnetic particle testing machine and a second ultrasonic test machine capable of measuring hollow axles. This investment exceeds R10 million.”
Refurbishing and Retrofitting
“Currently we are also upgrading some of our workhorse lathes. Three of them are going through a refurbishing and retrofitting phase so that they are able to produce tighter tolerances and operate at higher production rates. In addition, we also installed into the machining operations a completely refurbished Schaudt CNC grinding machine.”
Swasap also traditionally carries out assembly work of wheels, bearings and axles, supplying to a number of loyal clients over many years.
For further details contact Swasap on TEL: 011 873 6666 or visit www.swasap.co.za