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FARMINGTON HILLS, MI – At IMTS 2014, EMAG will feature Manufacturing Systems for Precision Metal Components with multiple machines from its new modular standard VL and VT product families on display. These Modular Standard Machines offer a systematic approach that is advantageous to establishing a highly efficient manufacturing process, with different operations offered on the same platform allowing for easy interlinking and eliminating any great outlay for automation.
The VL vertical pick-up lathe series opens up new opportunities for the machining of a wide range of chucked components. Small gearwheels, planetary gears, sun gears, sliding sleeves synchronizer rings or flange components, for example, can be machined with great efficiency. The smallest lathe of the VL product family, the VL 2, machines workpieces with a maximum diameter of four inches and a length of up to six inches. Increasing in size, the VL 4, VL 6 and VL 8 offer a number of different turning and milling operations within the framework of a single closed-loop production process. Specially designed for the handling of large components the largest vertical turning machine of the series, the VL 8, ideal for commercial vehicle production, handles workpieces up to 16 inches in diameter and 12 inches in length.
Built within the same modular concept is the VT-Series for machining large quantities of shaft components. With four axes, a self-loading turret and integrated automation, the VT 2-4 machines shafts with a max diameter of 2.5 inches and 16 inches in length. Spindle speeds of up to 6,000 rpm achieve extremely short cycle times as the shaft is clamped vertically between workspindle and tailstock and machined from two sides. The vertical alignment of the workpiece ensures process integrity, where the unhindered chip flow prevents the build-up of chip nests in the machining area.
All machines of the VL and VT product families offer the same advantages for every size workpiece:
Integrating the technologies of the EMAG Group into these new modular standards, the VLC 200 H will make its North American debut at the McCormick Center. The VLC 200 H hobbing machine integrates EMAG-KOEPFER technology into the EMAG vertical platform, including the pick-up design where the main spindle removes the raw part from the conveyor belt, transfers it to the tailstock flange and removes it from the machining area after the completion of the hobbing cycle. Gears with a maximum diameter of 8 inches and module 4 can be dry-milled at greatly shortened cycle times.
EMAG will also present its entire portfolio of production technologies, from turning, hobbing and grinding to those that complement traditional metalworking processes, such as its production Laser Welding, Heat Shrink Technology and Electro-Chemical Machining (ECM) capabilities. ECM processes offer non-contact machining with no heat affected zone or mechanical stress to components with no tool wear. An ECM machined blisk will also be on display.
EMAG invites manufacturers to visit them at booth N-6846 to meet with technology experts to discuss production solutions for the automotive and commercial vehicle, aerospace, and oilfield industries. For more information on the entire EMAG Group portfolio, visit www.emag.com
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Major machine tool company in Detroit supporting
Farmington Hills, MI – EMAG L.L.C. is a major machine tool supplier to the automotive, off-highway and energy sectors of North American industry and today proudly announced its full participation in the Michigan New Jobs Training Program initiative, led by Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, who detailed the program last week at Oakland Community College’s Advanced Technology Center on the Auburn Hills campus. Senator Stabenow is introducing legislation in Congress, called the New Skills for New Jobs Act, which would involve federal matching funds to support Michigan and other states that have already begun helping community colleges with local businesses to create more job training and retraining opportunities.
EMAG already supports the MAT2 program (Michigan Advanced Technician Training) here in conjunction with Oakland Community College and Henry Ford Community College, in which students engage in a study/work program with guaranteed employment at the end of defined period. CEO Peter Loetzner comments, “We see the New Jobs Training Program as a logical extension of the student program, as many in the current work force need enhanced skills to perform the new tasks required by today’s technology. This is especially true in our world of machine tools and related manufacturing.”
Speaking at Oakland Community College on September 3, Senator Stabenow said her new bill would provide a federal match equal to state training reimbursements, so that the repayment to the colleges would occur more quickly, plus there would be an increase in the number of eligible companies and workers participating.
Many Michigan businesses, especially those in the high-tech and automotive markets, constantly seek trained workers and have increasingly found it difficult to secure qualified people. The New Jobs Training Program would enhance the skill level of the workforce, making the state a more attractive base of operations for more companies in both market segments.
Senator Stabenow further remarked, “This program is a partnership between businesses and the community colleges, reaching out to workers. And it’s a way for the federal government to recognize that new job skills training – to match the jobs now available – is a top priority for moving the economy forward.”
The New Jobs Training Program in Michigan was begun in 2008 and last year trained nearly 10,000 workers in partnership with 44 companies, generating $76 million in additional wages for the Michigan labor force.
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Major machine tool company supporting next generation of industrial mechatronics technicians
Farmington Hills, MI – EMAG L.L.C. is a major machine tool supplier to the automotive, off-highway and energy sectors of North American industry and has a very special connection it chooses to foster, thinking into the future of its industry. Based in the Detroit area, EMAG is currently participating in the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program with Oakland County Community College in Southfield, MI and Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI. This program offers high-school graduates a career in machine Mechatronics, the discipline that incorporates electrical, electronic and mechanical study, providing all graduates an Advanced Associate’s Degree through a multi-year program completely funded by employers such as EMAG, who offers the graduates career opportunities as well. The program began for EMAG in the Fall, 2013 school semester.
During three years of schooling, students have their tuition, all fees and even a laptop provided to them by EMAG. They take a combined classroom/work curriculum, with paid employment at EMAG during the last two years of their schooling.
Mechatronics technicians support the critical machining world in industry, as they work with engineers, modify machines, maintain all components, troubleshoot and provide service on all related equipment for advanced manufacturing companies.
MAT2 is officially sponsored by Orbitak International and a number of Detroit-area manufacturers and machinery companies, including EMAG.
EMAG L.L.C. CEO Peter Loetzner comments, “This program is very special for me, as I studied the then-new area of Mechatronics in school myself. I have always believed it is necessary that we help educate and train the next generation of engineering, operator and maintenance personnel. We at EMAG are very proud to participate in this important program for Michigan and our home Detroit area, in particular.”
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15.3 million automobiles will be sold in the USA in 2013 alone. Even higher sales figures are anticipated for 2014. Manufacturers primarily want to meet the increased demand, including for automobiles with alternative drive systems such as hybrid drives and electric motors, by increasing their productivity. With its successful machine-tool concepts, EMAG has frequently demonstrated that productivity can be boosted above all by using state-of-the-art machine tools and the company wants to continue to do this on the market in the USA, a market that has been important traditionally. The EMAG branch in Farmington Hills in Michigan that has been successful for many years now offers an absolute guarantee of EMAG reliability and presence in America. This EMAG plant supplies a wide variety of customers throughout North America and thus makes a small but important contribution to boosting productivity in the USA. Let us convince you of the quality of our machines and the possibility of boosting production at WESTEC which is to be held in Los Angeles between October 15 and 17. You will find EMAG in the Convention Center at Stand 2820.
VT 2-4 vertical turning machine – shaft production for maximum productivity
Shafts are central components in an automobile’s powertrain. Thus, boosting productivity for this manufacturing process also has a clear effect on overall productivity. The vertical, 4-axis pick-up-turning machine VT 2-4 allows machining of shafts with a length of up to 400 mm and a diameter of up to 100 mm. Our consistent demand for maximum productivity is demonstrated by integration of the automation solution whereby the machine loads itself with raw parts using workpiece grippers. It takes approximately 6 seconds to change the workpieces and this thus leads to short idle times and, consequently, lower component costs. The actual turning process for which two tool turrets, each with twelve tool positions, are available (fitted with turning tools or driven tools) is performed at a speed of 6,000 rpm in extremely short cycles. The integrated automation system, combined with the compact vertical machine structure, allows you to configure production lines with a very small footprint. The VT 2-4 vertical turning machine is consequently ideally suited to integrating shaft production in existing manufacturing systems.
VL 2 – pick-up turning machine for small chuck parts
Besides the shafts, it is mainly chuck shafts which are involved in the production of automobiles. The fact that small chuck components need to be machined to an increasing extent in order to implement more compact and, thus, more lightweight parts is primarily due to the further developments in the field of boosting energy efficiency.
The VL 2 is designed to machine chuck parts with a maximum diameter of up to 100 mm and a length up to 150 mm. At the same time, the VL 2 offers a whole range of clever design details and hi-tech components which allow high productivity. These include the pick-up spindle which loads itself with raw parts from the integrated conveyor and the tool turret equipped with 12 tool positions which allows diverse machining scenarios. To date, there has not been such a compact manufacturing solution for machining hard or soft chuck parts. The machine concept is supplemented by a machine base made of MINERALIT® polymer concrete that ensures high strength and excellent vibration damping.
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TD Convention Center, Booth 701
Forecasted growth rates of 6.3% in sales of automobiles in the USA clearly demonstrate one thing: that the USA is and will remain one of the most important trading partners for Germany and German industry. The USA is traditionally an important market for EMAG, a leading machine tool builder in Germany. This is emphasized by the fact that EMAG has been present in Farmington Hills, Michigan, for many years now. Thanks to the deep roots that EMAG has in the USA, it is not only an important employer in the region near the “Motor City” of Detroit, but it is also a reliable business partner for numerous companies throughout North America. See the quality and reliability of our products for yourself at this year’s South-Tec show in Greenville, South Carolina. EMAG will showcase its machines in the TD Convention Center at Stand 701 at the trade fair to be held between October 29 and 31, 2013.
VL 2-P – productivity thanks to pendulum technology
When the aim is to shorten idle times, there are very few machines which can rival the EMAG VL 2-P. Workpieces up to 100 mm in diameter can be machined on the VL 2-P with unbeatably short cycle times. While there is a pause on other machines to allow the workpiece to be changed, the next workpiece is directly ready to machine on the VL 2-P. The key is that 2 spindles are used and these load themselves alternately while the tool turret swings between the machining positions. When machining is completed on one spindle, the tool slide moves to the second spindle to start a new machining process. Loading and unloading of the spindles which now occur in parallel with machining are virtually eliminated from the machining process and reduce idle times to an absolute minimum.
VT 2-4 – top-quality shaft machining
The vertical, 4-axis pick-up-turning machine VT 2-4 allows machining of shafts with a length of up to 400 mm and a diameter of up to 100 mm. Our consistent demand for maximum productivity is demonstrated by integration of the automation solution whereby the machine loads itself with raw parts using workpiece grippers. It takes approximately 6 seconds to change the workpieces and this thus leads to short idle times and, consequently, lower component costs. The actual turning process for which two tool turrets, each with eleven tool positions, are available (fitted with turning tools or driven tools) is performed at a speed of 6,000 rpm in extremely short cycles.
VL 2 – pick-up turning machine for small chuck parts
The VL 2 vertical pick-up turning machine is just the right choice for machining chuck parts with a maximum diameter of up to 100 mm and a length of up to 150 mm. At the same time, the VL 2 offers a whole range of clever design details and hi-tech components. These include the pick-up spindle which loads itself with raw parts from the integrated conveyor belt and the tool turret equipped with 12 tool positions which allows diverse machining scenarios. The machine body made of MINERALIT® polymer concrete ensures high strength and excellent vibration damping which is indispensable particularly when machining small chuck components.
VL 5i – flexible and efficient
Be it small or large series production, the EMAG VL 5i is the ideal manufacturing solution for turned parts up to 250 mm. The VL 5i is an interesting manufacturing solution above all for small- and medium-sized component producers, thanks to its excellent characteristics (e.g. short retooling times and fast programming). An automation system functioning on the basis of the drag-frame principle is integrated to round off the equipment features. This automation system, combined with the pick-up technology from EMAG, is the basis for the high productivity of the VL 5i. The workpieces are conveyed to the inside of the machine via the revolving automation system. The pick-up spindle loads itself there and it also deposits the finished workpiece back on the conveyor after machining. The advantages are obvious: the revolving automation system allows simple and very reliable loading and unloading of the parts, while the self-loading spindle ensures maximum machining reliability since clamping errors are virtually completely eliminated.
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The advantages for the user are obvious. In the past, it was necessary to decide in favour of one of the three technologies. Now, with the VTC 315 DS, it is possible to choose the technology that best suits individual applications. Dr. Guido Hegener, the executive responsible for grinding technology at EMAG Salach Maschinenfabrik GmbH, comments on the diverse applications: “We are consistently following the path of combination machining. As a rule, our customers manufacture different workpieces on the machine. We intend to offer them the best technology for every application.” The VTC 315 DS is of interest to those engaged in the manufacture of medium and large batches of high-quality components such as gear shafts, rotor shafts, pump shafts, motor shafts or cardan shafts. The machining technology is chosen accordingly. Sturdy workpieces are machined using the scroll-free turning technology. The grinding technology is preferred for smaller, less stable components. “This makes us more flexible and allows us to choose the right technology for every individual requirement”, explains Dr. Guido Hegener the advantages. The machine can be used as a fully-fledged grinding machine, or a fully-fledged turning machine, or a combination of both. When choosing a technology one should take a closer look at the cycle time and, in particular, at the tooling cost. Unit production costs are usually higher with hard turning and scroll-free turning than with grinding, although CBN grinding wheels – in absolute terms – are rather expensive. It is for this very reason that the user has to decide on a case by case which manufacturing technology to use.
Different technology modules for different workpieces
The developers of the VTC were also considering the machine as an investment in the future. Should production requirements change, the machine can be equipped – at very little expense and effort – with different technology modules that make it suitable for machining of the new workpiece. At present, the technology modules available are:
This guarantees flexibility in the use of the machine and opens up a wide range of applications, especially as all the technologies can be applied also in combination.
VTC production lines
The VTC 315 DS is ideally suited for complex manufacturing processes. Whether the job includes the high metal removal rates of turning and milling or the gentler grinding process – the VTC series of machines offers the possibility to integrate most of the metal cutting processes. This allows for the creation of complete VTC production lines for soft and hard machining. Turning, milling, drilling, grinding and gear hobbing have already been modularised for this particular machine platform. It provides the VTC with an extensive field of application. “We have already installed complete production lines of VTC machines for the soft machining of crankshafts. Almost all of the operations could be accommodated on machines from the VTC series”, this is how Markus Woitsch, chief of the production team for shaft machines, explains the production line concept of the VTC. Naturally, subjects like spare part stocks and unified machine operation also play a decisive role in the eye of the customer. With a production line that interlinks a number of different VTC machines and utilises different manufacturing technologies, spare part stocks can be drastically reduced, as 80% of the VTC machine components are the same. Only the technology modules change, when a VTC has to be adapted for a new machining requirement.
Complete-machining through technology combination
The VTC 315 DS accommodates turning as well as grinding technologies. For example, the turret carries out all turning operations, while the second station is used for the grinding work. This way, shafts can be complete-machined: the cylindrical bearing seats, the shoulders and the grooves – all machined in a single set-up. “Clamping errors play a particularly important part when it comes to high-performance components. Radial runout can be much reduced when a workpiece does not have to be re-clamped several few times”, elucidates Dr. Guido Hegener on the quality of the machine. To keep downtimes caused by tool changes to a minimum, sister tooling is provided for all turning operations. And the tool life of grinding wheels is so high that the time taken up by a wheel change is of no consequence.
The VTC 315 DS design
A distinguishing feature of the VTC 315 DS is its sturdiness and rigidity. At its heart is the machine base in Mineralit® (polymer granite). The damping properties of this material is 8 times that of grey cast iron, which makes it particularly well suited for hard machining operations like grinding or hard turning. The results are improved tool life and a better surface finish. The vertical design also aids unhindered chip flow. Manual removal of chips is hardly ever necessary. This is particularly important in soft machining, as it often involves volume-intensive chipping operations. The vertical construction is also of advantage where the footprint is concerned. Machines with horizontal spindle and tailstock take up a lot of space width-ways. That raises floor space requirements and costs money. Vertical machines develop upwards, and that – as we know – costs nothing. Automation on the VC 315 DS lies in the turret. A gripper, housed in the turret, collects the raw-part from its storage section and transfers it to the clamping position. Once the workpiece is machined, it is transferred out of the machine the same way. And thus the machine automates itself. The generously dimensioned machine assemblies, such as the work spindle with 330 Nm constant torque, and the grinding spindle with a power rating of 30 kW, have so much reserve capacity that even heavy metal removal work can be carried out on the machine. The control system used is a Siemens 840 D with EMAG grinding software that simplifies programming and operation.
The advantages of the VTC 315 DS:
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the world economy will grow by 3.5 percent this year, with the impetus coming less from Europe and more from dynamic, newly industrialized countries. One example is the automotive industry. According to the association for the German automotive industry (VDA), China’s share of the market in passenger cars increased by 59% and that of Brazil by 18% during the first few months of 2013. The same market is also growing in India and Russia. For a long time, new production facilities have been planned and are under construction, providing great opportunities for the machine tool industry – as the example of EMAG proves. Specialists are developing turnkey manufacturing systems that are tailor-made to suit specific market conditions, with the new production facilities in particular gaining substantially from this increased market activity.
Whether in the automotive or energy supply industry, the development of industrial key sectors within the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) has a direct influence on the machine tool industry, as it is this branch that, in the end, must supply most of the necessary manufacturing solutions. There are numerous indicators for this fact. For instance, according to Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI), the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad will – over the next 3 years – will see an investment of 3 billion Euro in six assembly facilities and fifteen sub-supply companies for the national automotive industry, with more international sub-suppliers also establishing outlets in the market. Similar activities are reported from Brazil. According to Anfavea, the country’s automobile association, approximately 22 billion USD are to be invested in production between now and 2015. In India, economic growth is generally attracting “an abundance of investment projects in the country’s infrastructure, as well as in new industrial complexes,” states GTAI.
The German machine tool industry is prepared for such a dynamic development and the opportunities it provides can be seen in the textbook case of EMAG. Their specialists see themselves as “partners in solutions” for the metalworking industry. Such an approach is of great importance, especially in the emerging markets. “As it happens, we don’t just deliver a machine tool. We deliver closely pinpointed manufacturing solutions that are, in every respect, tailor-made to customer requirements”, explains Dieter Kollmar, Managing Director of EMAG Holding GmbH. “This applies, of course, to typical factors such as batch sizes, component variants or, more generally, the flexibility of the processes applied. At the same time, we determine locally the technologies, automation equipment, interfaces and control systems required.“ The advantages for the customer are obvious, especially where an existing production line is extended or where a greenfield manufacturing facility must be created in a new market place. Our manufacturing systems are always “from a single source.” Even complex processes with peripheral machines and equipment are presented as turnkey projects by EMAG, thus considerably reducing the efforts of local production planners.
VL 2: Highly effective, truly outstanding space saver
The VL 2 is a pick-up turning machine with which the EMAG engineers are fulfilling a combination of two extreme demands: highest possible output rates on the smallest possible footprint. “This is a truly all-important aspect,” confirms Dieter Kollmar. “Although the floor space requirement for this vertical turning machine is just about 5 square meters, it is a machine of substantial capability, including a fully comprehensive automation concept with conveyor belt, workpiece storage and pick-up spindle. In combination with vertical turning, this results in very fast machining processes. “In other words, short loading travel guarantees the lowest possible component cost. Compared to horizontal turning machines, productivity rates increase quite noticeably. And maintaining the VL 2 is simple. All service units are freely and quickly accessible. The user can set up the machine in one step. “That too is important, when productivity levels enter the equation. Operators without prior experience, working at a new and unfamiliar location, will be able to quickly familiarize themselves with the machine. All in all, this is an optimal solution for those who want to extend production with as little investment as possible,” notes Kollmar.
VT 2-4: For demanding shaft production
A similar approach is shown with the VT 2-4 Vertical Turning Machine, with which the EMAG specialists have created an equally fast manufacturing system for shaft production. Even demanding machining processes can be realized on it. When machining shafts up to 400 mm length and 63 mm diameter, component costs reduce considerably, with extremely short chip-to-chip times (as with the VL 2) being the reason. Workpiece grippers transport the workpieces into the machine and remove them again, once they have been machined. Depending on the workpiece, the changeover can be accomplished in just 6 seconds. And the actual turning process is fast, too. 4-axis machining allows the component to be machined from two sides simultaneously. Vertical alignment of the workpieces provides consistent process integrity, as the unrestricted chip flow prevents the formation of clusters in the machining area.
Central project management
“We are convinced that these EMAG solutions are optimally designed to cover not only the specific requirements of an emerging market, but also those of Europe and the USA,” as Dieter Kollmar his company’s philosophy. Everything is greatly simplified, starting with production planning, as there is no need for separate workpiece and finished component storage, with the added advantage of a reduced floor space requirement. At the same time, the EMAG Group engineers act as central project developers, having access to machines with optimal interfaces. This guarantees a fast run-in and makes the machines maintenance-friendly. “When it is a question of arriving quickly at a wholly integrated, highly effective manufacturing solution, this approach must – from our point of view – be the first choice,“ Kollmar concludes.
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The composite camshaft is still gaining ground in the marketplace. The main reason for this is the considerable weight reduction it brings, compared to its one-piece rival. The composite version is by now also widely used in the HGV sector. However, the main disadvantage of many current assembly processes is the high joining force applied, which creates unacceptable tolerances in positioning and alignment of the cams. By contrast, the patented heat shrink assembly process from EMAG offers a decisive advantage, as it ensures that “ready-to-fit” camshafts, gear shafts and other precision composite units can be produced without problems.
The advantages of the composite camshaft are well known: less expense, less weight, the possibility to use different materials for the various constituent components, greater flexibility in production and the ability to implement new cam geometries, such as negative radii, with ease. The necessary reduction in fuel consumption – and with it those of CO2 emissions – are easier to achieve with an increasing use of composite camshafts.
Alternative processes for the joining of cam and shaft have one serious disadvantage: the two components cannot be joined with the necessary accuracy to avoid a subsequent finish grinding process. In many cases, the joining of cam to tube is carried out using a form-fit process like press-fitting, knurling and/or spline/serrated gearing. The joining forces required for these processes can deform the components and result in unacceptable tolerances in cam position and orientation.
The heat shrink assembly process from EMAG means precision joining
Thermal joining, i.e. the heat shrinking of cam onto tube, ensures that the required tolerances are achieved with a reaction force-free process. The know-how to tightly control the process parameters of “temperature” and “time” – and the mechanical design of the joining equipment – are of the utmost importance in this process.
An optimal combination of robot and special-concept gripping technology allows for fusion gaps of < 15 µm to be achieved safely. The concept’s great flexibility allows camshaft designers more freedom in their designs and ensures that the process can also be used for medium batch sizes, where frequent component type changes are the order of the day. The high degree of precision of the composite camshaft drastically reduces the need to subsequently grind the cams or – where precision cams are used – does away with the requirement completely. A further advantage of this process lies in the possibility of using different materials for the composite shaft. This includes forged cams, for instance in 100Cr6, or finish-ground cams, even dimensionally accurate sintered cams that do not require a downstream finish-grinding operation. Secondary components, such as bungs and endpieces, can – just like the actual shaft itself – be made of more advantageous materials.
All this allows the camshaft to be made to suit the requirements of the engine and to optimize it in terms of load bearing capacity and manufacturing costs.
And now one step further:
Where the camshaft needs to be ground after heat shrink assembly, the joining machine can be linked up to a grinder. This is particularly easy when using an EMAG grinding center of the VTC DS Series. With this setup, the joining machine robot transfers the assembled camshaft directly to the loading position on the grinding center. The advantages of this process from EMAG also apply to the machining of other components. When machining gear shafts, ground gears can be joined tightly on the shaft, without needing to account for the grinding wheel overrun at the design stage. It also minimizes the length of the shaft and makes the whole unit more compact.
The EMAG process is characterized by only a very few machining components being in direct contact with the workpiece. It allows for the machines to be reset in the shortest possible time (typically less than 15 minutes).
Joining in seconds and achieving the highest possible quality
The heat shrink assembly process offered by EMAG combines flexibility with productivity, while freedom of design and choice of production technologies ensure a short cycle time. While one cam is heat shrinking, the next one is already being preheated. Equipping the heat shrinking machine with a number of preheating units allows for the optimal application of this technology to the task at hand. It is these advantages that may well be the reason why so many firmly established manufacturers of camshafts and other precision assemblies are showing such a great interest in the new process, are asking for machining tests, or are already applying the process under actual production conditions. In the ideal case, the customer will take advantage of the synergy provided by the EMAG Group and ask for a complete concept to be prepared that covers everything from pre-machining to heat shrinking and end machining.
The advantages of the heat shrink process:
The advantages of the composite camshaft:
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38800 Grand River Avenue
Farmington Hills, MI 48335
Tel: (248) 875-0313
Fax: (248) 477-7784
Web: www.emag.comEMAG LLC
38800 Grand River Avenue
Farmington Hills, MI 48335
Tel: (248) 875-0313
Fax: (248) 477-7784
Attention: Peter LoetznerContinue reading
EMAG has a long history, starting back in 1867 in Bautzen, Germany, as an iron foundry and engineering works. Re-established 60 years ago in Eislingen, Germany, in 1952 to make lathes and special-purpose machines, today it makes manufacturing systems for precision metal components from its headquarters in Salach, Germany. Its machines range from basic round-part vertical turning centers to machining centers with as many as six axes handling large workpieces. They perform turning, milling, grinding, hobbing, drilling and more as singular purpose setup or combination machines.
The tools manufacture primarily automotive, off-highway, agricultural and oil field components. For example, EMAG tools are involved in transmission components for agricultural vehicles, such as gears, ouput shafts and idlers. “If you look at a dozer from the outside, you have a chain,” notes Peter Loetzner, CEO of EMAG’s U.S. subsidiary in Farmington Hills, Mich. “There are two large precision wheels that drive that chain. There are idlers on the bottom. Our machine can make all these round components.”
EMAG’s equipment differs from typical vertical lathe machining centers, whose head stock is mounted, typically horizontally, and a turret turns to do the machining. “Our turret is mounted in a concrete base, so it’s not moving,” Loetzner explains. “We have a head stock that moves outside of that design. That gives us better precision and better tool life.”
The machine builder takes pride in its ability to produce high-precision parts. In one example, Axle Alliance in Redford, Mich., needed to hold to a 25 µm tolerance for 390 mm diameter steel ring gears during hard turning, which is done prior to grinding the gear teeth. EMAG worked with Axle Alliance to develop a probing process that ultimately delivered a variation of less than 15 µm. Axle Alliance now uses six machines built at EMAG’s headquarters in Germany, each dedicated to a part line.
Another example comes from Precima Magnettechnik in Brückeburg, Germany, whose customers expect absolute perfection from, in this case, housings for brakes used mainly for wind turbines. Precima had had issues with machine vibration causing negative effects on tool life and surface finish. However, the rigidity of EMAG’s turning machines and the vibration damping quality of the base allows for the very high feed rates and cutting speeds required in precision hard-machining. Precima now runs four vertical pick-up turning machines from EMAG.
Loetzner gives much of the credit for the machines’ capabilities to long-time partner Siemens. EMAG has standardized on the Siemens Sinumerik 840D CNC platform, specifically the solution line and power line. Loetzner likes, in particular, that the CNC controller is an integral part of the PLC, and they are able to do almost everything through the CNC, including making it look like a PC for the operator. The common look and feel for the operators makes for easier onsite commissioning and cross-training, Loetzner adds.
In one recent case study, EMAG needed to provide grinding, turning and turn-grind machines to a major agricultural equipment builder, and the machine builder relied on the 840D CNC. “We needed to devise a control solution that would satisfy all the needs of the various machines we were supplying to this demanding customer, based on a common platform, to enable easier design, integration, startup, commissioning on-site and training for our customer’s operations and maintenance personnel,” Loetzner said at the time.
Similar control technologies are used on EMAG’s newer-technology machines, including laser welding and electrochemical machining centers. These technologies have little impact on the control or automation schemes, Loetzner notes, because they still are essentially performing the same task, whether in a dry, lubed, gas-cooled or underwater environment. Only the sensors and encoders need to change to accurately feed the relevant data to the control. In fact, the controls are often much simpler because the axes of motion are fewer, though more multi-axis and workpiece manipulating machines are being developed.
The CNC also enables remote monitoring over a wireless network so that process engineers can see what the operator sees on each machine. The agricultural equipment customer mentioned has used the remote monitoring capability on a wide variety of EMAG machines for several years, with all data communicated through a single information network that’s accessible by both EMAG and Siemens. Through this arrangement, they have been able to significantly reduce downtime, service calls and troubleshooting identification time.
More than 75% of the EMAG machines at this customer site are equipped with robotic devices. The lights-out capabilities this provide make remote monitoring that much more important. Remote monitoring can be done directly through the Sinumerik CNC in a one-on-one exchange with the customer, Loetzner notes, or even a three-way exchange involving Siemens as well.
While happy with the precision capabilities, EMAG’s focus on future development is trying to decrease the downtime between producing components. “On the automation and the part handling, the challenge is you want the machine to run and make parts all the time, right? But once a part is done, you have to take it out and put the other in,” Loetzner says. “Those non-productive times are the biggest enemies.”
EMAG reduces those times partly by use of the Japanese chaku chaku principle. Meaning “loading loading,” the idea is to bring various process steps as close together as possible to improve the speed between the processes. EMAG’s vertical machining centers not only fill a much smaller footprint on the plant floor, they also improve chip flow. Also, all of EMAG’s machines are self-loading, with a servo-controlled shuttle traveling through the machine, but not through the work envelope, Loetzner notes.
“While we have shown the industry we can master any part to highest precision, over the last five years we’ve been more and more focused on tightening non-productive time,” Loetzner says. At IMTS in Chicago in September, 2012, EMAG showed a new machine generation that significantly reduces the non-value add times. “Our chip-to-chip time was between 6 and 7 seconds for typical automotive gear,” Loetzner says. “Now it would be a second or less.”
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