Klas Forsström (pictured), Sandvik Coromant president since September last year, flew into the UK early last month (February) to celebrate 150 years of Sandvik, the 70th anniversary of the Sandvik Coromant brand and the renovation of the company's UK premises, while he also heralded the forthcoming 100th anniversary of Sandvik in the UK, in two years' time.
The roots of Sandvik – in Sandviken, Sweden – are, he highlights, as the first company in the world to use the Bessemer process, which revolutionised steel manufacturing. The company became one of the world's leaders in its industry.
Sandvik Coromant is one of the tooling brands of the Sandvik group and sits within the recently formed Sandvik Machining Solutions – one of five business areas; previously, there were three. Sandvik Coromant is joined in this business area by tooling companies Walter, Seco and Safety.
The company's other cutting tool brand – Dormer Tools, Sheffield – now resides within another business area called Sandvik Venture, with Dormer's high tech tooling having moved across to the Sandvik Coromant brand. And that is also the reason why a Heller 5-axis machining centre, which was initially installed at Dormer Tools, Sheffield, has moved to Sandvik Coromant's Halesowen facility, in fact. It's installation at the new location was another of the February event's noteworthy elements.
Image: L to R: Geoff Lloyd, managing director, Heller Machine Tools; Klas Forsström, president, Sandvik Coromant; Magnus Eckbaeck, Sandvik Coromant UK managing director
These new business areas result from a fresh strategy for the Sandvik Group, as of last September. For Machining Solutions, the strategy is to hold "clear global leadership by offering productivity-enhancing products and solutions for advanced industrial metal cutting". Those operations within Venture are categorised as either those with high growth potential or those that may have better potential outside of Sandvik (full strategy here
The overall approach for each of the five areas is one of focus and also to be world number one, although Sandvik Coromant itself is already the world's largest cutting tool company, of course.
Focusing on the UK, the Halesowen site is a productivity centre, has had a number of machine tools on site for many years, and shares its cutting tool competence and process knowledge with channel partners (distributors) and customers – it is one of 25 such global centres. Latterly, Halesowen has had a particular aerospace focus, being nominated an aerospace application centre – a combination of R&D and customer cooperation, explains Mr Forsström. This activity also supports other areas of high value manufacturing, not just aerospace, however.
Apart from this internal process development activity, Sandvik Coromant in the UK also develops process knowledge by engaging with academia via the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing at Sheffield, the adjacent Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Centre and with the Midlands Technology Centre, Coventry.
Using all this collatoral, it supports its channel partners and customers, helping them drive up productivity and playing a part in addressing what Sandvik Coromant calls the 'competence gap' within industry. This is something that it sees worldwide, not just in the UK, adds UK managing director Magnus Eckbaeck.
This competence gap is a key concern for the company and it is set to address this more comprehensively in the coming months. Globally, it already trains 30,000 people every year through its 100+ certified trainers at its productivity centres. It will soon launch online training courses via its new website, while there will also be more events focusing on particular machining topics. In the UK, these will include: the modern art of milling; the whole picture (drilling/tapping); gear milling; take flight – engine, frame and composites machining (aerospace); and green light machining.
The benefits that using the best cutting tools can deliver include both increased machine utilisation and higher profit, far above the cost of any insert, it is stressed. And in addition to delivering improvements after investment at customers' sites, the company intends to increase the number of relationships it has with machine tool suppliers, too, because, says Mr Forsström, starting out with the best tooling package from the outset can reduce payback for an investment. The company is also working on what the Sandvik Coromant president calls "maybe the next revolution" – this is the availability of cutting tooling data in standard format for use within CAM systems.
There is already a standard for this, ISO 13399, but to make its application reality requires the weight of a large organisation to push it along – "the only one that can drive this is Sandvik Coromant", says Mr Forsström. There are already pilot installations underway, with more details expected later this year.
GETTING A FLAVOUR
MACH, Birmingham NEC, 16-20 April, will be the UK engineering public-at-large's chance to get a flavour for current Sandvik Coromant developments, with the more separate nature of Dormer Tools evident by its own, but adjacent, stand at the biennial exhibition. The original, single 255 m2 stand will now be two areas of, for Sandvik Coromant, 180 sq m, and 75 sq m for Dormer Tools.
And the moving across of Dormer product to the Sandvik Coromant brand will also be evident via the company's first Coropak product launch of the year (there are two). Among some 6,500 products in total, it includes 4,340 new drilling and tapping products – 4,000 of these Dormer products. By way of comparison, in a normal year, the company would announce around 1,800-2,500 new products. Sandvik Coromant's exchangeable tip drill, CoroDrill 870, as well as its CoroDrill 860, will also be highlighted, however – the latter hailed as "the fastest solid carbide drill on the market" and which can also offer 100% performance after regrind, underlines the company.
Also pointed up are through-coolant carbide micro-drills, with the company able to offer products as small as 1.85 mm currently. Even smaller diameters with through-coolant will be offered in the future.
In fact, in the area of what Sandvik Coromant calls round tools, which includes solid carbide endmills, drills and HSS and carbide taps, the company is expanding its offerings and suggests that there is no "brand leadership" in this area, intimating that, with an expanded range, it has the desire to stamp its mark on it.
Indeed, the company has moved into the tapping area for the first time, launching CoroTap P for steel tapping applications (it did offer tap holders before). The company has published a new tapping catalogue, while there will be further CoroTap releases later this year.
Image: CoroTap – a new range of tools
Along with the application-specific CoroTap line-up, there is also a general-purpose range. These have a wide material/application area and fall within the 'Spectrum Tap' banner.
This general-purpose theme is also carried over to turning inserts, with the launch of Spectrum Turn. This development, believes Paul Williams, product and applications manager, will see Sandvik Coromant engage with customers that neither it, nor its channel partners, currently does. Other developments to look out for at MACH will include gear hob innovation, as well as a suite of services that will be offered to its customers, including carbide recycling. But that leaves several 1,000 more products to look out for, of course.
First published in Machinery, March 2012