Partnership developments

12 min read

Andrew Allcock attended the annual DMG Open House in Bavaria, Germany, last month (February). Machine tool developments and more were unveiled, while the growing partnership between Mori Seiki and DMG was further underlined (This is an extended version of a feature first published in <i>Machinery</i>, March 2010)

Apple iPhone applications and online communities are not normally the subject matter tackled at machine tool company press conferences. But those were two of the initiatives that DMG, sales and service arm of machine tool maker and solar power equipment company Gildemeister AG, underlined at its annual Pfronten, Bavaria, Germany, Open House event. The event, held in early February, was a massive affair, drawing an estimated 5,000 trade visitors from around the world this year, with 55 machines on view, including 14 innovations, while there will be 17 machines launched in 2010, it was revealed. Image: Pfronten Open House, 2010 Machine tool developments are the meat of such affairs, of course, but back to the iPhone and online communities for a moment. On the former, users of said device, plus Blackberries and other smartphones, can now obtain an application – DMG Messenger - that will connect them to their DMG machine tools, providing status information while they are on the move. This will be available during the summer. Part of the range of so-called DMG Powertools, Dr Thorsten Schmidt, Gildemeister board member, said that 136 Powertools had been sold globally during January 2010, demonstrating the popularity of such software products – "they are accepted by customers," he underlined. POWER OF COMMUNITY A useful tool, DMG Messenger, no doubt, but the online community initiative is the more important announcement for those with DMG machines. The company has created a website – DMG Marketplace (www.dmgmarketplace.com) - for its machine tool users and where they can post details about their machines and capacity, allowing potential customers to find companies with appropriate technology and capacity. DMG claims to have over 122,000 machines installed worldwide at almost 34,000 customers, so clearly it can claim to have one of the largest global communities of machine tool users already. And that reach will be expanded by its co-operative undertaking with Japan's Mori Seiki, of course. Mori Seiki and DMG announced that they would co-operate in sales, service, manufacturing and development in March last year. Together, they lay claim to a 10-12 per cent market share of the world's metalcutting machine tool market, according to Dr Masahiko Mori, president of Mori Seiki. DMG claims to have the highest sales figure globally for metalcutting machine tools, with Mori Seiki said to be the second largest such company (Yamazaki Mazak, a privately owned company, is said to be the largest when its metalcutting and laser activities are lumped together, Machinery was told). More importantly, the percentage of customers common to both may not be high, if recent experience in Turkey is anything to go by. In that market, where the two now have DMG-led common representation, the cross-over is in single percentage figures, it was highlighted during the February event. It is likely greater in more highly industrialised countries, however. Underlining this co-operation, Dr Mori was present at the DMG event and press conference for the first time, as were Mori Seiki machines branded as DMG Mori Seiki and including an NT1000W mill-turn centre, NZ1500 CNC turning machine, and also a Mori Seiki Taiyo Koki NVGH-6T vertical spindle grinding machine. This DMG Mori Seiki branding will be rolled out globally, with the first move made in the US market, Dr Mori revealed. The Mori Seiki and DMG organisations will merge in the US, with Mori Seiki taking the lead. In addition to this, the two top men announced a DMG-led sales and service organisation would be established in India. The companies now have a number of joint sales and service operations, with Mori Seiki being the lead organisation for both companies in Indonesia, Thailand and Japan, with DMG taking the lead in Turkey, Taiwan and Korea, with a 50-50 operation covering Australia. The first joint products of the two companies are DMG's CTX delta 4000 TC and CTX delta 6000 TC, based on Mori Seiki's NT6600 mill turn centre. This development will be underlined at a large turning event in Bielefeld, Germany, this month (March 10-12). In Japan, Mori Seki is selling DMG, Shanghai-produced EcoLine CNC lathes, these available with Mori Seiki MAPPS control – 100 machines have been ordered by Mori Seiki. Image: Mori Seiki NT6600 becomes CTX delta 6000 Efforts to jointly develop products are expected to commence at the end of this year, with "Mori Seiki and DMG learning from each other", Dr Mori added. He particularly mentioned eco-design as being more developed in Germany, however, while also saying he liked the guarding and HMI (human machine interface) of DMG machines. Machinery was told by another source that Mori Seiki designs will begin to look more like DMG designs. R&D POWER UNDERLINED But on the point about development and R&D, a most astonishing statement was made by Dr Mori. Together, Mori Seiki and DMG have "about 1,000 people engaged in research and design….about 20-25 per cent of all people engaged in machine tool design world-wide". With such manpower, the rate of product development, already rapid, can only get faster, it can be surmised, while the combined purchasing power and use of common parts that will be pursued will deliver cost benefits for new developments. Other new joint initiatives were highlighted, including the recently formed MG Finance (announced in November 2011). Together with Mitsui Finance, the two companies have, said chief of the executive board of Gildemeister AG Rüdiger Kapitza, €200 million to support customers' machine tool purchases. This organisation will operate in Germany and the UK first, it was said, with a launch date of this month (March). Dr Mori added that his company is "debt-free" and has a "70 per cent capital liquidity ratio", and that Japan's low interest rates allowed him to "borrow and give money to customers". A slightly more unusual demonstration of togetherness concerns DMG parent Gildemeister's other business activity, SunCarrier and SkyCarrier solar panel support structures. As visitors approach the Pfronten factory main gate, an array of solar panels, supported by one of Gildemeister's devices, greets them. Covered in snow as at Machinery's visit, it wasn't generating anything, according to the attached, highly visible display. But Dr Kapitza said that it generates enough electricity to power 20-25, four-person households. And just such a device – "the first two sets, generating 30 kW" - can now be found at Mori Seiki's Iga Campus in Japan. Free-of-charge electricity will be his after 15 years, Dr Mori said, and he hoped that the solar panels would last 30 years. Dr Kapitza, in particular, would like machine tool customers to consider this technology, too. GREEN GADGETS But DMG green credentials were also being underpinned via some interesting product developments, gathered together under the "DMG ENERGYsaving" banner. These include: DMG Virtual Machine - allows 100 per cent accurate simulation of the machining process for error-free cutting, which eliminates power usage for try-out; DMG GREENmode - a machine feature that saves up to 20 per cent of energy consumption by intelligent control technology, offering shortened production times (75 parts increased to 92 parts in a quoted example); DMG AUTOshutdown and automated run-up to operating temperature – a suggested €4,000/annum saving for €1,500 additional cost; and DMG EnergySave – a manufacturer-independent retrofit kit to reduce power consumption during unproductive times. The latter is said to offer, in general, a €3,000/annum saving for a €1,999 one-off investment, with the retrofit taking just 2 hours. Overall, this aspect of energy efficiency is one that will be stressed versus machines available from Chinese and Korean machine tool makers, Dr Kapitza said: "We will promote this, together with Mori Seiki." Indeed, working together in such a way, Dr Mori said the pair want to be "the number one for our customers; the first company that they think about". And Dr Kapitza brushed aside any suggestion of any problems, saying "it [the co-operation] will be a success; we [Gildemeister] have the experience of combining Deckel, Maho and Gildemeister." Taking the eco developments in turn in a little more detail and the central benefit of DMG Virtual Machine is "securing flawless machining sequences, by providing a tool to check and, if necessary, optimise NC programs prior to actual machining by means of a virtual 1:1 image of the real machine". This minimises set-up and make-ready times, and avoids reject production. Moreover, the overall utilisation of the machine is enhanced by eliminating non-production. The degree of efficiency of individual chip removal processes increases, as does the overall production utilisation, thereby boosting efficiency and saving resources as a whole. Image: DMG Virtual Machine In DMG GREENmode, the maximum cutting force per tool is saved by pressing a button during the first run of an NC program. Thereafter, based on these maximum values, the cutting forces are adaptively optimised, resulting in reduced machining time. Measurements have shown that up to 20 per cent of the energy required for machining a part can be saved, it is claimed. DMG AUTOshutdown offers a customer parameterisable standby control system to optimise the 'energy balance sheet'. This allows the user to set default times for the shut-down of various systems through the CNC interface, analogous to the energy options of a laptop, and is of interest to users that operate beyond monitored shifts on a regular basis. Instead of leaving the machines in their operating condition once machining is completed, as is common practice, DMG AUTOshutdown controls the machine into an idle state with minimal power usage. The same system supports 'wake-up and warm-up', capable of controlling the machine into its operational status at a defined point in time and automatically heating it up to operating temperature. The retrofittable DMG EnergySave tool pursues a similar goal, but shut-down is not instigated by a control function, rather by a separate hardware kit, which can be used on any machine tool, "with no exception". The DMG EnergySave also detects unproductive times by means of a preset power level When a machine goes below this figure on an extended basis, the machine is put into a rest status. The user can individually configure up to 10 rest current switching periods. In addition, the machining compartment lighting can be switched off as well. Simple re-start-up is "guaranteed in all cases", because the rest mode initiated by DMG EnergySave "is a known emergency stop operating status". A key-operated switch supports desired power down for maintenance or programming work. Image: DMG EnergySave AND THERE'S MORE Other energy saving measures employed by DMG in its machines, in brief, are said to be: mass optimised machine design to reduce the consumption of energy; energy recovery in the drive area; servo technology instead of hydraulics to reduce energy consumption and the amount of fluids used; use of energy efficient electric motors; use of heat exchangers; rotational speed/torque adaptation in the optimum performance range; use of energy efficient converter components with a high degree of efficiency; energy optimised drive design; component oriented machine use to minimise energy consumption. Moving on to machine tools and the 17 developments for 2010 are, in the turning area: CTX Alpha TC; CTX beta 8004a; CTX beta 1250 4A; CTX beta 1250 TC; CTX gamma 1250 TC; and CTX delta 4000 TC and CTX delta 6000 TC. In the machining centre arena, the list is: DMU 65 monoBLOCK; DMU 85 monoBLOCK; DMU 60 eVolution; DMU 100 P duoBLOCK; DMU 125 P duoBLOCK; DMU 600 P/FD; DMF 360|11; DMC 100 U duoBLOCK; DMC 125 U duoBLOCK; and DMC 160 H. There is a single innovation in the tool presetter line, the UNO 115 eco. Because many of these machines developments are yet to be released, for many on this list no details are yet available. Products/solutions highlighted at the event, in particular, were the large DMU 600 P universal, pallet-loaded machining centre; the large CTX delta 4000 and 6000 TC mill-turn machines; the Sauer Lasertec Powerdrill; Sauer Ultrasonic 10 (first unveiled at last year's manufacturing technology show EMO, Milan); and DMG's Powertools that support a complete process chain from CAD to production. The CTX 4000 and 6000 machines will be available in the third quarter of the year. The machines have turning lengths of 4,150 and 6,150 mm, respectively, and a maximum turning diameter of up to 1,070 mm. Also at the large end of the spectrum, the DMU 600 P is a 5-axis, universal machine is designed for large and heavy workpieces - moulds used in the automotive industry or components with protruding features found in the aerospace industry and power technology. Axis travels of more than 6,000 mm in the Y-axis and 3,400 mm in the X-axis are offered, with the cross beam moving 2,000 mm and the ram by an additional 800 mm. The machine can take workpieces weighing up to 25,000 kg on its 2,500 by 4,500 mm surface. A special high torque spindle for roughing reaches 7,000 rpm and 1,000 Nm, with the finishing at 24,000 rpm and 90 Nm. Image: Big machines - DMU 600 P Already the company reported that a DMU 600 P machine had been sold to a company that makes mould tools for car maker VW. And Christian Thönes, managing director Deckel Maho Pfronten (one of the Gildemeister AG's production sites) said that he expected 12 large machine tools to be sold this year, worth around €100 million. He also mentioned a DMC 160 H horizontal machine, but no details were made available. The largest horizontal at the moment is the DMC 125 H, having a working area of 1,250 by 1,000 by 1,000 mm. The Sauer Lasertec 50 PowerDrill is intended for the machining of aerospace turbine blades. Having a new optical system that allows focus size to be changed without moving the focal point, depending on its application, the machine can be equipped with high quality Nd:YAG or CO2 or fibre laser, allowing a precision of up to 8 µm. A major aerospace company in the UK has seven such machines, Machinery was told. Image: Lasertec 50 PowerDrill It features X and Y-axis travels of 500 mm, with 700 mm in Z. The rotary axis holds parts weighing up to 14 kg. With this weight, the linear drives can accelerate at 1 G to achieve rapid traverse speeds of up to 80 m/min in the X and Y direction, with 40 m/min achieved in Z. NEW LASER APPLICATION In a particularly novel application, a Lasertec 20 is being applied to the sharpening of PCD insert cutting edges, as opposed to the use of EDM and grinding processes. Sauer sales director Friedemann Lell told Machinery that this produces sharper edges in a more reproducible process, and that it also cuts in half the time taken to perform the operation by traditional means. Tool life is also improved, he added. An Austrian company, TiroTool GmbH (www.tirotool.com), is said to be trialling the process. Incidentally, a Lasertec 50 machine is used to cut the PCD discs prior to using the new Lasertec 20 process. (Carbide insert tooling makers already use such laser technology to generate chip breaker geometries to support development of new models in a faster timescale. What took 2-3 weeks now takes a few hours, Mr Lell offered.) Staying with Sauer, and its Ultrasonic 10 (Dental 10) was shown in dental machining guise. The Sauer Ultrasonic 10 can support both ultrasonic machining and high speed milling. The former intended for the efficient machining of new materials, such as zirconium oxide, while there's 5-axis machining capability for metal machining. The technology is aimed at dental laboratories. A dental excellence centre will be opened this month (March 3-5), in Stipshausen, Germany, in fact. You can download DMG's dental brochure here http://chilp.it/241d36. Image: Ultrasonic 10 Finally, DMG's Powertools solutions that support a complete process chain from CAD model to machined part were highlighted. The new 'DMG Process Chain' is a full package comprising a CAM system and a DMG Virtual Machine. Machines fitted with Siemens 840D can benefit because DMG's Virtual Machine software incorporates a complete physical model of the machine tool, combined with a Virtual Numerical Control Kernel (VNCK), the latter able to reproduce exactly the machine tool's movements and dynamics. On the CAM side, Siemens NX CAM can access 840D control functions directly, allowing the programmer to 'tweak' the program in the office. Image: From CAD to machine Box item 1 Business performance/outlook DMG said order intake for 2009 was €1.2 billion, down almost €700 million on 2008, the company's best year ever. But, as Dr Kapitza pointed out, this 35 per cent fall was better than the German machine tool association's (VDW) average quoted figure of -66 per cent. Sales too were down to €1.2 billion from around €1.9 billion. But, ahead of Gildemeister AG's annual report, he said that there would be "no red figures", meaning there would be no losses. Last year, the company made €81 million. The solar panel system side of the business, incidentally, contributed €100 million in sales in 2009 and took €300 in orders in the last three months, Dr Kapitza said. Indeed, without the solar power business, order intake for Gildemeister would have been down 50 per cent, he admitted. And the chief of the executive board added that he thought that business would not recover to 2007/2008 levels until 2012/2013, although a recovery of 20-25 per cent in order intake would be seen this year. Speaking for Mori Seiki, Dr Mori said that 2008 had been a good year, with the company recording sales of ¥150 billion (over £1 billion) and profits of ¥10 million (£71 million), with the company making some 500 machines/month. Last year, however, the company saw sales of ¥65 billion (£465 million) and a loss of ¥30 billion (£240 million), with machine volumes dropping to 200/month. This year he said he expected sales of ¥100 billion (£715 million) and a 1 per cent profit, adding that the company's break-even point was now between 300-350 machines/month. Dr Mori said that after summer 2010, he expected order intake to become 350-400 machines/month. Box item 2 Modified machines for automotive production Modified versions of the DMC 55 H duoBLOCK and DMC 75 H duoBLOCK are being used at China- based automotive customer Great Wall Motors (GWM) to produce 200,000 crank cases/year, using a line of 18 machines in cells connected to each other by gravity feed systems, in a three-shift system. Image: DMG machining line at GWM GWM is the largest privately owned car manufacturer in China and builds about 400,000 cars per year, taking in parts from bodywork to the motor. DMG demonstrated that its solution was more competitive than double-spindle machining centres from other manufacturers, and consequently supplied 14 DMC 55 H duoBLOCK and four DMC 75 H duoBLOCK machines. Motor spindles with a 110 Nm torque and 12,000 rpm on the DMC 5 H duoBLOCK and 288 Nm and 10,000 rpm on the DMC 75 H duoBLOCK guarantee efficient and precise milling of the aluminium crankcases. Both machine types are equipped with a dynamic vertical chain magazine holding up to 40 tools. A fast, cam-controlled double gripper supports tool change times of less than 1 second. With nine machining steps per component, the machines reach average cycle times of 1:31 min. A chip attached to the part supports the automatic work process, transmitting the component type and the machining status to the control system. Download DMG's automotive brochure at http://chilp.it/994188.