Partnership positives

12 min read

Andrew Allcock was one of 100 journalists flown to Japan by Mori Seiki to see its JIMTOF exhibition highlights and to hear the latest about the company's tie-up with Germany's Gildemeister AG

Japan's Mori Seiki and Germany's Gildemeister (parent of sales organisation DMG) announced their co-operation in March 2009, with this subsequently taking in sales, service, research and development, production, procurement and finance. The two sealed the deal by taking a cross shareholding of 5 per cent in each other. Together, the two companies claim to have 10-12 per cent of the world metalcutting machine tool market. JIMTOF2010 was, therefore, the first edition of Japan's biennial manufacturing technology show since the get-together. It was also the first JIMTOF since Mori Seiki had acquired Sony's measurement technology business, most well known here in the UK for its Magnascale position measurement technology, typically used alongside DRO technology, but which was evident on the JIMTOF stand, integrated into Mori Seiki machine tools. There had been murmurings earlier this year about a Mori Seiki take-over of Gildemeister; hotly denied at the time, a recent rise in Gildemeister AG's share price had led some to believe that a related announcement was awaiting the assembled throng in Japan. It was not. Further, Mori Seiki president Dr Masahiko Mori said it was not him buying Gildemeister shares. (UPDATE: see subsequent news story) The main event, then, was the display of 15 new Mori Seiki machine tools, shown off on a highly prominent combined Mori Seiki/DMG stand at JIMTOF. At 2,600 m2, it was the largest at the show and also 450 m2 larger than the previous Mori Seiki presence (see later for product details). And this time, for the first time, of course, there were DMG machines on show – some 22, in fact. Image: The Mori Seiki/DMG stand could not be missed at JIMTOF - it was the largest MORE TO REVEAL But the two companies' top men, Gildemeister's Dr Ruediger Kapitza, chairman of the executive board, and Dr Mori, did offer a little more about their companies' combined efforts. Image: Dr Ruediger Kapitza, left, and Dr Masahiko Mori explains the latest developments in their respective companies' partnership The two are co-operating in many markets, although this is not yet apparent in Europe. Mori Seiki leads the effort in Japan, USA, Thailand and Indonesia, with DMG leading in Turkey, Taiwan, Korea, India and south east Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore). The pair have a 50/50 share in Australia, while common sales activities in Africa will start on 1 January 2011, led by DMG, with the establishment of a base in Cairo, Egypt. Already, the markets in which the pair co-operate constitute 31 per cent of global machine tool demand, highlighted Dr Kapitza, who also enthused about Africa, the pair's forthcoming new venture, which he says is a machine tool market worth almost €450 million in 2009 – it was under €330 million in 2005. It should be noted that Gildemeister has more than machine tools in its sights when it comes to Africa, though. The company, already a supplier of carrier systems for solar energy panels, has recently acquired a majority of Austrian energy storage technology company Cellstrom GmbH. In areas where power disruption is part of daily life, as in much of Africa, this provides a solution. Indeed, at the DMG/Mori Seiki India location in Bangalore, which will see its grand opening in January, both a solar panel array and an energy storage system are to be installed. The India set-up represents an investment of €8 million. Image: Gildemeister's ambitions for Africa may also be related to its solar power panel carrier systems and its newly acquired power storage system Back to co-operation, though, and it was highlighted that the vertically integrated nature of Mori Seiki, which sees it making many of its machine tools component parts – spindles, turrets, ballscrews, bearings, for example - is a positive benefit, in terms of reducing delivery times. Dr Mori said that while other builders are offering 4-6 month deliveries, Mori Seiki can offer them on a 2-month delivery. Gildemeister is buying component parts from Mori Seiki factories, benefiting from better deliveries and quality (Mori Seiki ballscrews are grade C1, typical commercial is C3), while also gaining better prices. Mori Seiki spindle integration is a feature of Gildemeister's CTX series lathes and selected machines in the DMU MonoBLOCK and duoBLOCK machining centre ranges; ballscrew integration is a feature of Ecoline machines, which takes in both lathes and machining centres, and selected DMU duoBLOCK machines; bearing integration features on selected CTX machines. Image: Mori Seiki makes higher quality ballscrews than the norm. It's internal supply shortens lead times, with Gildemeister also now using ballscrews from Mori Seiki's Japanese plants The combined purchasing power of the two companies - put at ¥100 billion (almost £1 billion) - has gained better terms from outside suppliers, it was reported, with standardisation between companies of things such as swarf conveyors, hydraulics and cooling systems also cited. SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE In terms of machine sharing, the two companies both sell Gildemeister's Shanghai-produced Ecoline machines - fitted with different control options, depending on market. Indeed, they are sold under three brandings – DMG, Mori Seiki and DMG/Mori Seiki. A new design, drawing on both companies' R&D teams, will, during 2011, make the different branded machines look almost identical, with the DMC 635 eco vertical machining centre design shown at the JIMTOF press conference in combined DMG/Mori Seiki branding, the only visible difference being colour and control system. Gildemeister, in return, is selling Mori Seiki's NT6600 DCG mill-turn as its CTX Delta 6000 TC, while the new Mori Seiki NTX1000 multi-axis mill-turn is to be Gildemeister's CTX alpha 450 TC. There is no common assembled machine, but that is "the next step", said Dr Kapitza, while assembly of Mori Seiki machines in Germany is suggested likely, with the chairman noting that insurance and packaging can add up to 15 per cent to the price of a machine – larger than the 5 per cent profit margin, Dr Mori added. Image: The Mori Seiki NTX1000 will be Gildemeister's CTX alpha 450 TC Highlighting the sales benefits of the partnership, Dr Mori said that 10 per cent of Mori Seiki's order intake was coming from DMG factories in Europe and added that Mori Seiki expects to sell 500-600 DMG machines next year "where we sell DMG machines". Underlining the benefit of the relationship, Dr Kapitza highlighted Japan, saying that working on its own, DMG would take 10 years to achieve what will take Mori Seiki two. But, fundamentally, both European and Japanese factories are required, Dr Kapitza said, while Mori Seiki is already committed to building a manufacturing plant in California that will see it invest $50-100 million to produce 40-50 machines a month, taking in both companies' products (the company already has its Digital Technology Laboratory in California, where it undertakes FEA analysis of Japan machine designs). Mori Seiki, on the other hand, may piggy back on Gildemeister's Shanghai manufacturing operation - earlier this year, the Japanese firm moved its China head office closer to this factory, in fact. This year, Gildemeister's Shanghai factory will make 2,000 machines, exporting almost half, making it the largest exporter of China-made machine tools, Dr Mori wryly observed, adding that Mori Seiki has sold 200 Ecoline machines into its markets. In terms of the global business environment, it is improving. Mori Seiki has recently reported first half losses of ¥6.1 billion (over £53 million) - this being an improvement on the ¥15.7 billon of the first half of 2009 - with orders rising 50 per cent over the same period. Indeed, order intake in September, at ¥13.5 billion, was the highest monthly total since September 2008. The company expects to be "in the black" in the third quarter. Gildemeister reported a loss after tax of €19 million for the first half of 2010, but machine tool orders were also up, by 63 per cent in the second quarter. The company expects to break even this year. The pair expect to make 5,000 machines each this year, 2,000 of these complex multi-axis models, and Dr Mori said that he expected faster growth in the world market than do the experts. The two companies can safely said to be confident, to which the jetting of 100 journalists from around the world to JIMTOF attests. NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH DETAILS At JIMTOF, Mori Seiki unveiled 15 new machine tools, two of which were the DMG-designed DMU 50 eco and the Airmatrix presetter. In brief, they are: five new CNC lathes – four models of the NLX2500 family (one with a loader, one with a robot, one with driven tools and C-axis, one with Y-axis an subspindle) and the NVL 1350MC VTL; three new multi-axis machines – NTX1000/SZM HSC, NZL2500Y/600 and NZL6000/2000; one new universal machining centre, the DMU 50 eco; two NVX5080/40 vertical machining centres, one with a robot loader; one new 5-axis vertical machining centre, the NMV1500 DCG HSC; three new horizontal machining centres, the NHX4000, NHX5000/40 and NHX5000/50; two new mass production machines, the DIM-1500 and TMC2500; one advanced technology nano-machine, the NN1000 DCG HSC; and, finally, a new presetter, the Airmatrix from DMG. Announced to the Japanese market in addition were: the NTX2000/1500SZ multi-axis machine; the NMH5000/50 horizontal machining centre; mass production machines DIM-1500 and TMC2500; and the nano-scale machine, the NN1000 DCG HSC. Improved performance, reduced cost plus improved energy consumption are overriding themes of the new X machines, with Dr Mori pointing to the NHX as "the sensational machine at the show". NHX horizontal machining centre The NHX 4000 (400 mm pallet) and 5000 (500 mm pallet) are designed to offer both higher speed and higher precision, using a thick, high rigidity bed, lighter moving parts and direct scale position feedback (Magnascale), as standard. The company has moved away from its two-ballscrew DCG approach to axis drive with this model, but control features provide compensation from Magnascale feedback , Machinery was told. Image: NHX - "The sensational machine at the show," according to Dr Mori Positioning error is stated as 2.5 micron in X, Y and Z, with this one third less than previous models. And when fitted with a coolant chiller, machining parts requiring an accuracy of better than 20 micron is possible. Without the optional chiller, total power consumption has been reduced by 40 per cent, compared to conventional models. Other highlights are: 60 m/min rapid/cutting feedrates in X, Y and Z; three spindle choices – 12,000 rpm/11 kW (cont), 20,000 rpm/18.5 (cont) kW, 8,000 rpm/30 (cont) kW; pallet change time of 8 sec for the NHX4000 and 9.5 sec for the NHX5000; pallet indexing time of 1 sec for the NHX4000 and 1.49 sec for the NHX5000; higher pallet and table clamping forces; 40/60-tool ring-type magazine with max tool length of 450 mm versus the previous 400 mm, max tool diameter (no adjacent tool) of 170 mm versus the previous 140 mm and 70 mm with adjacent tool; there's a new chain, direct change magazine that does not use a servo-motor, thus reducing power. Of course, Mori Seiki's MAPPS IV control is fitted and can optionally feature D P Technology's ESPRIT CAM software. Cameras located within the working area and offering better visibility of the working area are another option. NLX lathe The NLX lathe series is the successor to the N series range, which has sold 28,000 units, over 10,000 for the preceding NL series. High precision, high rigidity, lower cost and more energy efficient are accolades that also apply to this new lathe range, which, incidentally, employs solid slideways to deliver longer tool life and support heavy duty cutting. Mori Seiki's Built-in Turret Motor technology features, which has benefits in both reduced heat generation and vibration, while improving milling power and milling accuracy. Image: Solid slideways on the NLX support heavy duty cutting and promote long tool life The NLX2500/700 (turning specification), NLX2500MC/700 (milling specification) and NLX2500Y/700(Y-axis specification) use different platforms for each model to ensure high rigidity. And the NLX2500/700 (turning specifications), for example, has achieved approximately 22 per cent reduction in the installation area compared to the conventional NL Series. The maximum capacity is 460 diameter (80 mm bar) by 728 mm length, for the NLX2500/700. In standard specification, the NLX Series sees a bed with coolant circulating inside. This allows the machine to achieve active control over thermal displacement. Further improving accuracy is optional Magnascale direct position feedback technology. And greater rigidity at the tool tip is a further benefit- 27 per cent up, compared to conventional machines in the case of both the turning and MC models. The NLX Series uses a compact CNC that consumes less power, an inverter-type hydraulic unit, and LED lighting to reduce environmental impact and running costs. The total power consumption has been reduced by approximately 13 per cent for the NLX2500/700 (turning specification), by approximately 10 per cent for the NLX2500MC/700 (milling specification), and by approximately 14 per cent for the NLX2500Y/700 (Y-axis specification). Additionally, lubricating oil consumption has been reduced by approximately 15 per cent by halting oil supply during standby. The use of Magnascale technology outside the machine was demonstrated on the gantry-loaded NLX2500, with an external measuring station inspecting a turned diameter to provide feedback to the machine. On the tailstock version shown, four cameras were integrated into the working area. NVX5000 vertical machining centre The NVX5000 vertical machining centre is a move to combat Korean and Taiwanese builders. Three variations are offered: the NVX5060 (600 mm X-axis), NVX5080 (800 mm) and NVX5100 (1,050 mm). No. 40 and No. 50 taper spindles are also both offered. It uses the same options and applications as the NV5000 Series that has sold more than 8,000 units. The machine features high rigidity, measures against thermal displacement, energy saving (total power consumption has been reduced by approximately 35 per cent, compared to the conventional NV5000 Series), MAPPS IV control plus ESPRIT CAM software, and compliance to safety standards. As with the NLX, the machine employs slideways for all axes, offering improved vibration damping performance and dynamic rigidity. It also offers longer tool life and capabilities for heavy-duty cutting, while achieving rapid traverse rate of 30 m/min in all axes. There are seven different spindle configurations. Image: NVX – aimed at combating Korean and Taiwanese competition. Olid guideways, again NTX multi-axis The NTX multi-axis machines – part lathe, part machining centre - with swivelling B-axis tool spindle - is launched with model 1000 and is said to be an ideal choice for machining small precision parts for medical equipment and measuring instruments, which have complex shapes but need high-precision and high-efficiency machining. It has a maximum turning capacity of 370 mm and maxiumum length of 424 mm and can have 38/76 tools. A compact machine, installation area has been reduced by approximately 40 per cent, compared to the company's conventional models. It features Mori Seiki's original DDM (Direct Drive Motor), ORC (Octagonal Ram Construction) and BMT (Built-in Motor Turret) technologies. There are eight variations: chucker; tailstock; twin spindle; twin spindle/twin turret; twin spindle/twin turret/milling; workpiece discharge unit; twin turret/workpiece discharge; twin turret/milling/workpiece discharge. Image: There are eight variations of NTX1000 The NTX2000, with 1,500 centre distance, was also in evidence, shown with sub-spindle and W-axis. This machine offers the largest Y-axis stroke in its class, while it also boasts the machining capability of a number 40 taper machining centre. Image: The NTX2000 seemed to be a Japan-focused launch at JIMTOF NZL four-axis lathe The NZL range s a twin-turret, four axis machine, with the upper turret of the built-in motor type that gives high milling power, while the lower turret is of standard type. There are NZL2000 and NZL6000 models, too. The NZL2000 and 2500 handle 8, 10 and 12 inch chuck size work, while the 6000, with a 900 mm maximum turning diameter is claimed to be the largest four axis lathe with Y-axis, and boasts 400 Nm milling torque from the upper built-in motor turret. At the show, crankshaft manufacture was being highlighted on the NL2500, while the 6000 model was underlined as being targeted a the oil/energy sector. NVL vertical turning lathes The NVL VTL is described as a high precision, high productivity machine offering space-saving features. It can tackle workpieces up to 1,600 mm in diameter and weighing 8,000 kg. The table can generate torque of 20,000 Nm (30 mins), with this compared to "other company's machine" of 14,370 Nm. The NVL is supplied as a turning or turning and milling machine, with the latter benefiting from a 24/40/80-tool magazine. Accuracy is underlined, with Mori Seiki quoting roundness of 2.6 micron on a 100 mm diameter by 100 mm high brass workpiece turned with a diamond tool. High production modules Two compact, high volume production machine, typically intended for the automotive industry are the Turret Module Centre (TMC) and the Dedicated Innovative Module (DIM). The TMC has a turret style tool magazine taking in milling tools, is a 3-axis machine, but can feature a fourth axis, and is intended for the manufacture of parts such as ABS components, housings, coolant pump and turbo charger parts. The DIM was shown machining an oval piston, which employed the Mori Seiki/Kennametal spinning tool. With a conventional turning tool, since the cutting edge is brought into contact with the workpiece from a perpendicular direction, forces cause the tool to flex. In contrast, with the Spinning Tool, the cutting edge is brought into contact from the cutting force direction - end on - so the cutting reaction acts along the centre of the tool back into the tool shank/toolholder, enabling more aggressive cutting to take place. The rotating tool tip avoids a single point being raised to a high temperature, reducing wear and extending tool life. Both DIM and TMC machines employ standard Mori Seiki machine parts, although they give the impression of being special-design units. They are small machines for small parts and so are energy efficient in comparison to large machines used to machine small parts. Low-cost automation An interesting set-up of NVX5080 vertical machining centre and NLX2500MC turning centre saw the pair serviced by a robot. The interesting point here was that the robot was not mounted on a separate powered axis, but instead it pulled/pushed itself into position by gripping a static location point and then extending or shortening its reach. Non-contact measurement In combination with an NT4250 DCG mill-turn, a new non-contact laser scanning system, S-Quad, was being used to measure an unmachined aerofoil blade casting, with this information used to update the NC program to machine the blade edges. This set-up automates what was previously a manual task, Machinery was told. Nano-machining Mori Seiki's NN1000 DCG HSC is intended for the production of IT parts or optical components. It has five axes, linear axes having 1 nanometre resolution and rotary axes 1 micro-degree. The machine must be used in a temperature-controlled environment, of course. Image: Nanometric resolution supports highest accuracy machining NMH5000/50 The NMH5000/50 was described as being designed for German manufacturing industry. Available with or without pallet changer, the key attribute of this 5-axis machine was highlighted as easy access to inspect the workpiece during the machining cycle. The machine is intended for difficult-to-machine materials. Composites machining A development between Mori Seiki and tooling company Kennametal was demonstrated on an NMV5000 vertical machining centre. This saw composite material being machined, with the dust being extracted through the spindle. First published in Machinery, November 2010