Heller reports that the installation of two of its five-axis machining centres, one with turning capability, has transformed the efficiency and repeatability with which marine components are machined at an offshore equipment manufacturer and refurbishment centre in the UK.
Four alternative proposals from different suppliers were considered before opting for the Heller solution. One possibility was to install a five-axis machine fitted with a rotary table on a swivelling trunnion. The problem with this type of machine is that the Z-axis stroke is too limited to allow the drilling of deep holes in the top of the casting, unless an unduly large and costly machine had been purchased. Heller FP/CT 4000 machines offer machining capacity with up to 1000 mm in the Z axis.
Previously, the process for machining cast steel components was labour intensive, involving highly skilled machinists setting up each part 16 times on manual mills, drilling machines and lathes. Lead time from customer order to delivery was 24 weeks, partly because machining took a 40 hour man week, typically spread over a month.
Today, the whole process has been reduced from 24 to just six weeks, as the parts can now be milled and drilled in one hit on both Heller five-axis machining centres, and also turned in the case of the second machine. Within the family of six sizes of component, one variant, for example, now takes just nine hours to mill and drill, and requires a further one hour for turning operations.
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