This shop finds advantages in having CNC machines from a single builder, but the general strategy has benefits that can be applied to any shop. Machines supplied by TH Machine Tools.
It is very unusual to visit an engineering company that has machining as its main service and note that the company has standardised on one brand of CNC machine tool on the shopfloor. There are many reasons why this happens but in general it will be a price and availability factor. However, there are other reasons and in the case of Weco it is the company’s strategy not to compromise on quality but rather to have more machines which results in more output.
The 10th Hurco CNC machine purchased by Weco was a Hurco VMX64Ti 3-axis vertical machining center that is equipped with NC Conversational Merge, Ultipocket incorporating AdaptiPath (controlled engagement cutting), a tool and material library, CTS – coolant through spindle, a H320 4th-axis with tailstock and 3 jaw chuck. The XYZ travels on this machine are 1 625mm x 864mm x 762mm, it has a table size of 1 676mm by 889mm and the maximum load is 2 722kg. The machine was supplied by TH Machine Tools
Several other factors contribute to the wisdom of having one brand of CNC machine. Some of the most important considerations include lot sizes, cycle times, setup times, machine costs versus operator costs, urgency of getting jobs done and even availability of skilled operators in your area.
Same CNC on all machines
“If operators know how to run one of Weco’s machines, they can pretty much run all of them. This eliminates issues caused by having machines or controls that can be run only by employees with certain specialised knowledge. I don’t have to worry about someone not having enough work to stay busy,” said Matthew John, current MD of Weco.
“Another big advantage of standardising on the Hurco machines is that the company has its own CNC controls – WinMax. The control helps machinists and job shops be more productive and profitable by supporting many programming methods, conversational programming, NC programming and a Hurco-specific feature called NC/Conversational Merge that optimises efficiency even further. The Hurco control’s technical specifications include 4GB RAM, 128GB solid state drive and 10 000 block look-ahead.”
“Hurco reliably supports operators in optimising machining procedures from 3-axis to 5-axis applications.”
Weco have recently purchased a Hurco VM10i, which is a 3-axis general purpose vertical machining center that is equipped with NC Conversational Merge
Simplified machine maintenance
Using the same brand of machine also makes it easier for the company to keep its machines well-maintained. The machines also use many of the same spare parts, so it is easy for the company to keep them in stock. In addition, many of the machines are serviced similarly. For example, when a spindle needs to be replaced, the installation process is almost exactly the same, regardless of the year or type of machine, and can be completed in house.
Because the machines are all the same brand, they can use most of the same cutting tools, workholding and accessories. This saves money, and because operators do not need to worry about dealing with a wide range of products, the risk of errors, shortages and other problems are reduced.
Parts designed for the machine
Working exclusively with a certain machine brand yields insights into the capabilities of those particular machines. Companies can use this knowledge to design parts that can play to these strengths.
If a shop using one machine tool brand implements an automation system at one machine, it will be easier for that shop to apply the system to its other machines. Integration and testing will be smoother and quicker as more systems are added.
Rock drilling industry
Initially a general engineering company Weco changed direction to focus fully on manufacturing and supplying high precision component wear parts for the rock drilling industry.
A component that Weco manufactures for a client in Australia
“With the emphasis of the business squarely focused on the mining industry the primary emphasis was on after sales service and maintenance of drifter drills. Drifters, also known as rock drills, are always “almost new” as the mechanical parts are constantly being replaced and refurbished to keep the drifter in tip top condition.”
“With each drifter costing between R800 000.00 and R1million to replace, it’s important for the mines to optimise their maintenance spend and to get as much use out of the equipment as possible. We carefully examine each and every individual component and we are able to offer a service to refurbish some parts, instead of replacing them, ensuring that the refurbished parts are in accordance with the original OEM specifications.”
“We manufacture a comprehensive list of spare parts, tailor-made for various leading brands of rock drilling machines from around the world. At any one time we could have up to 1 000 different components in our stores. We manufacture in economical batches and aim to hold stock of all top moving items to serve both our own repair facility and our spare parts customers.”
The grinding department has also been upgraded recently
“As a full service precision engineering facility we are able to manufacture a wide range of components on our machines. The only processes that are outsourced at this stage are gear cutting and heat treatment. We are fully in control of the quality process even when the part is off site. All our suppliers are accredited in accordance with our ISO standards. The spare parts and components that we manufacture include valves, connection plates, couplings, covers, piston guides, bushings, liners, rings, studs, bolts, drivers, chucks, flanges, shanks and seals.”
The machine shop has a number of CNC lathes, CNC milling machines, grinding machines, broaching machines, a gun drilling machine and conventional machines on the floor. Additionally they have a guillotine and a press brake when they need to do some fabrication work for clients.
Two new Palmary Extomax-OCD3260 CNC cylindrical grinders have also been purchased
As mentioned previously the company has standardised on the Hurco brand of CNC machining equipment and has now installed its 10th Hurco machine. However, the relationship with Hurco goes back to 2013 when the company purchased three machining centers and two lathes. John’s stepfather had purchased the company a couple of years earlier and although there was a treasure trove of machines on the machine shop floor he knew he had to invest in new equipment and technologies to keep up with productivity and quality.
Two new Hurco machines have been purchased this year by Weco, both supplied and installed by TH Machine Tools.
The Hurco VM10i is a 3-axis general purpose vertical machining center that is equipped with NC Conversational Merge, Ultipocket incorporating AdaptiPath (controlled engagement cutting), a tool and material library, CTS – coolant through spindle, a H200 4th-axis with tailstock and 3 jaw chuck. The XYZ travels on this machine are 660mm x 406mm x 508mm, it has a table size of 762mm by 406mm and the maximum load is 1 500kg.
The Hurco VMX64Ti is also a 3-axis vertical machining center but with much bigger specifications. It is equipped with NC Conversational Merge, Ultipocket incorporating AdaptiPath (controlled engagement cutting), a tool and material library, CTS – coolant through spindle, a H320 4th-axis with tailstock and 3 jaw chuck. The XYZ travels on this machine are 1 625mm x 864mm x 762mm, it has a table size of 1 676mm by 889mm and the maximum load is 2 722kg.
“We purchased the Hurco VM10i because we were running into capacity problems. It also followed our philosophy of more machines, more output.”
“The Hurco VMX64Ti was purchased for many reasons. All the splining work that we needed to be done was outsourced. This would involve a two week period and we have now reduced this time frame down to maximum three days because we are now doing the machining inhouse. This was one of the reasons.”
The measuring department in a climate controlled room includes a Nikon Altera 15.7.6 CMM
“Another example and reason is that a housing that required boring and reaming on old machines would take us up to five hours. This has been reduced to 45 minutes.”
“With the Hurco VMX64Ti having bigger and larger specs we are now in the position to take on larger projects, bigger and heavier components and enhance our diversification strategy. At the moment we are too reliant on the rock drill components. This should also take us out of the mechanised mining niche that we are currently in.”
“I have been with the company virtually since my parents got involved with it in 2010. They have now semi-retired and I was appointed the Managing Director in 2016. One of the many things I learnt from them is you build up strong relationships with both your staff and suppliers. Working exclusively with a single supplier company can bring special advantages.”
For further details contact Weco on TEL: 011 762 4341 or visit www.weco.co.za