Electric bus chassis factory opens

Expert electrification company, Equipmake, has opened a factory in Snetterton, Norfolk that will design and manufacture its fully integrated electric bus chassis for an increasingly international customer base.

Guest of honour Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, cut the ribbon and officially opened the new facility. Home to Equipmake’s 52-strong workforce, the factory will primarily design and build the EBus electric bus chassis, a fully integrated cost-effective electric chassis that allows bus coachbuilders with no electric vehicle knowledge to become electric bus manufacturers.
For further information https://equipmake.co.uk/

Reliable temperature checks

With the launch of the PCE-TC 24 infrared thermometer, PCE Instruments is introducing an interesting maintenance tool on to the market that measures temperatures within a range of -20 to 380°C. The temperatures are displayed as real images with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels and IR images (infrared images) with a resolution of 33 x 33 pixels. In addition, the presence of a backlit LCD supports measurements in dark environments.

Non-contact infrared thermometers enable users to detect thermal bridges or hot parts, for example, which allows them to discover thermal problems in electrical systems, to locate mechanical failures, and thus to arrange the necessary maintenance work and save energy.
The thermal imager continuously measures the maximum and minimum temperatures of the object and shows their exact locations. Emissivity (value that defines how easily a material or an object exchanges thermal radiation with its environment) can be set in the menu of the PCE-TC 24 to a value within the range of 0.1 to 1. Additionally, the integrated memory function allows documentation and archiving. BMP files can then be read out via microSD card or USB.
An IR thermometer quickly shows results, and errors caused by a lack of thermal contact can be ruled out. Another advantage infrared thermometers have over common thermometers is that moving objects can be measured. The light weight of only 295 g, the compact dimensions of 195 x 100 x 55 mm and the included belt bag, make the meter very easy to carry.
For further information www.pce-instruments.com


One of the UK’s largest pump manufacturers shipping more than 200,000 units per year, Charles Austen Pumps, has invested in its first sliding-headstock bar automatic, a Cincom L20-X from Citizen Machinery UK. The machine was installed at the company’s Byfleet factory in June 2019 and has taken over the turn-milling of parts up to 25 mm diameter, the vast majority of which are brass. A few aluminium, stainless steel and plastic components are also produced.

Established nearly 75 years ago by Charles Austen, the company is credited with inventing the diaphragm pump, which in the 1950s helped John Enders develop the polio vaccine. The firm’s products later assisted the development of Concorde and the Apollo 15 mission to put a rover on the Moon. A wide range of pump types is now manufactured and the firm has been so successful that growth over the past six years has been 30% per annum, driven by strong home sales and a buoyant export market.
Naturally that has put a strain on all areas of the operation, not least the machine shop. While prismatic metal cutting, including the milling and drilling of parts for pumps, as well as injection mould manufacture, is largely carried out in-house, the two fixed-head, 57 mm bar capacity CNC lathes on site struggled to cope with the production volumes of rotational parts. The result was that lately as much as two-thirds of the turning requirement was subcontracted out at a cost of more than £100,000 per year.

Machine shop manager at the Byfleet facility Matt Wright says: “More than 80% of our turned components are between 16 and 19 mm in diameter, so we needed a lathe of relatively small bar capacity to start bringing work back to our factory. Our bigger lathes are not so efficient when machining these smaller workpieces due to their longer tool movements and slower axis travels.
“We considered fixed-head as well as sliding-head technology, as our parts are generally short compared with their diameter,” he continues. “We concluded that sliding-head turn-milling would be more productive because the tools are mounted on gang posts rather than turrets, so are quicker into the cuts as they have less distance to move. Also, because we do not need to use the guide bush, the bar remnants are shorter, saving money on material. Should we ever need it, we also have the flexibility of quickly installing the guide bush for true Swiss-type turning of shaft-type workpieces over 2.5D.”
He advises that the company initially reviewed most of the sliding-head lathe providers and that the choice of Citizen was primarily down its reputation for quality machines and for providing good applications support, training and after-sales service which, since the L20-X was installed, he describes as “brilliant”.
A selection of turn-milled components for the OEM’s pumps was taken to the machine supplier’s Bushey technical centre, where engineers recommended the best machine for producing the parts. This was deemed to be the twin spindle L20-X turning centre in optional, oversize configuration capable of machining bar up to 25 mm in diameter. An Iemca barfeed for 3 m stock was also supplied, as well as a workpiece conveyor.
Standard features of the machine include up to 44 cutters, including rotary stations on the gang, opposing and back tool posts, with Y-axis movement of the first two tool carriers. The LFV version of the machine with its patented, two-axis CNC chip-breaking software in the control’s operating system was not needed, as free-cutting brass is mainly machined at Byfleet.
Batch sizes produced on the Cincom vary greatly from ones and twos for the R&D department, up to 10,000-off. The first job on the machine was a brass cam that ran continuously for 96 hours, from Monday morning to Thursday evening. Machined in one 105-second cycle to tolerances down to +10/-5 µm, including in-cycle engraving for traceability, the part previously needed two operations taking three times longer, plus additional handling for manual chamfering and stamping. Wright says that machine attendance was minimal during the day and non-existent overnight. When he arrived at the factory the next morning and measured the parts, all were not only within the 15 µm tolerance band, but right in the middle of it.

Another brass component, this time a 19 mm diameter disc-type part just 0.6 mm thick, saw its two operations in 2.5 minutes reduced to one 50-second cycle – another three-fold saving – plus the elimination of handling. A third example, a double eccentric with an offset hole and an offset spigot with a 5 µm limit, is now produced in under three minutes instead of five, including engraving which previously had to be done manually. Surface finish on all parts coming off the L20-X is noticeably better.
An element of the service provided by Citizen Machinery prior to delivery of the lathe was the provision of programs for machining two components. Since then, the Cincom machine operators, including Wright’s son Ryan, have been using the supplier’s Alkart CNC Wizard programming software. According to Citizen, the software is easy to learn and a simple process to cut, modify and paste elements from the original programs and add new blocks for other features using the wizard’s G-code and M-code library.
Wright concludes: “We are already bringing turned parts manufacture back in-house and that will accelerate in the coming months. We have hundreds of component variations lined up to put on the L20-X. By Easter 2020, we should be turn-milling them all in our factory. With the amount we have been spending lately on subcontracting services, I calculate that the Citizen Cincom slider will pay for itself in a little less than two years.”
For further information www.citizenmachinery.co.uk

Service360 launched by Universal Robots

Collaborative robot (cobot) technology expert Universal Robots has launched Service360, a support offering that enhances performance, increases uptime and mitigates risk through seamless collaboration.

Chris Wilson, vice president of service at Universal Robots, says: “We’re empowering our customers to proactively monitor, optimise and safeguard cobot performance with enhanced support and preventative maintenance. Service360 protects production lines, maximises uptime, reduces risk and enables success by ensuring manufacturers are prepared for the unexpected.”
For further information www.universal-robots.com

Automated welding at CSBC

Pemamek has delivered two PEMA automated welding lines, designed for foundation pin pile production, to CSBC Corp in Taiwan.

The investment is a part of CSBC’s business development initiative to become an offshore wind energy turnkey provider and expand its operations in national offshore wind energy markets. The automated solutions will enable CSBC to significantly increase its competitiveness, and boost manufacturing capacity and quality.
CSBC’s new lines are designed to manufacture pin piles for offshore jacket foundations, and have the capacity of processing pin piles up to 350 tons and 90 m. Included are three longitudinal seam welding stations, two assembly stations capable of welding internal circular seams, two welding platforms that operate simultaneously with two welding heads, integrated heavy-duty roller beds with polyurethane rollers, and a PEMA WeldControl 500 control system with laser-tracking.
For further information https://pemamek.com/