Hurco Open House brings record trading year to a healthy close

2 min read

​Hurco Europe’s Open House on 4 and 5 December saw more than 90 visitors from the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Estonia, representing 62 manufacturing companies, attend the High Wycombe-based firm.

Managing director David Waghorn said the figure was 25% up on the previous two years, which, as it happens, mirrors the increase in footfall on the company's stand at the MACH exhibition in Birmingham earlier in the year. In the immediate aftermath of the latest in-house event, quotes to the value of £4 million have been issued.

The Open House concluded a record year of trading for Hurco in the UK, with turnover just short of £26 million, an increase of £2 million over 2017. Around one-third of sales was to first-time users of the company's machine tools, a proportion that stays remarkably constant over the years.

Average annual growth since 2002 for the machining centre and CNC lathe supplier has been 10%, a rate of expansion that has resulted in the firm outgrowing its current showroom and offices, heralding a move in 2019 to new premises nearby.

The rise in sales resulted from a higher average price for each of the more than 300 machines purchased in the 2018 financial year. This was mainly due to the increasing popularity of 5-axis machining centres, especially the SRTi B-axis models. There are now 14 different Hurco 5-axis machine configurations to suit different applications.

Additionally, turnover growth reflects a greater tendency for customers to order optional extras such as through-tool coolant, on-machine probing for tools and components, and both single-axis and compound CNC rotary tables. Sales of Roeders machining centres, mainly into the mould and die sector, under a long-standing agency agreement with the German manufacturer also helped to achieve the record result.

In parallel with the continued business buoyancy, the headcount at Hurco Europe has grown to 50, more than one-third of employees being service engineers. The number of applications engineers has increased as well, reflecting the high level of support that is being provided to the firm's expanding list of customers; the installed base of machines now exceeds 4,500.

Looking forward to 2019, Waghorn foresees the already increasing interest in automation gathering pace. Emphasis was placed on this and Industry 4.0 in September on the US company's stand at the IMTS 2018 show in Chicago, where exhibits featured articulated arm robotic load/unload, as well as automatic pallet storage and retrieval systems for high-mix, low-volume part production. At the High Wycombe Open House, a VMX30UHSi trunnion-type 5-axis machine was exhibited linked to an Erowa Robot Compact 80 pallet load system.

Launched in the UK was additional software for the proprietary WinMAX conversational control. Called Solid Model Import, it allows a 3D file in IGES or STEP format to be transmitted directly into the control's database where it can be worked on immediately, without translation, to create three-plus-two axis cutter paths for machining a prismatic component.

The module incorporates 3D DXF, which allows this type of file to be imported as well and worked on seamlessly, although this software can be supplied as a stand-alone entity. It complements direct import of 2D DXF CAD files, which Hurco pioneered in the 1990s.

An additional announcement was the availability from January 2019 of a new, larger model in the BX range of bridge-type, 3-axis Hurco machining centres for high accuracy machining of tightly toleranced components and those with fine surface finishes, including of moulds and dies. Joining the BX40i previewed at the last open house and the BX50i launched in the UK at MACH 2018 will be the BX60i with 1,600 by 1,300 by 700 mm travels.

Expected also in 2019 is a new series of turn-mill centres with driven tooling, which will be added to the existing Hurco TM series of CNC lathes. Recent upgrades to all of the turning machines include a larger spindle bore, roller guideways, a more compact footprint and a new control system that mirrors the advanced Max5 programming of the manufacturer's vertical machining centres. Additional features include concurrent programming, estimated runtime, error check and recovery restart, and improved rigid tapping performance.