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Cutting Tool manufacturer F.O. Select competes successfully in Switzerland by investing in ANCA technology to achieve ‘lights out manufacturing’

New technology has enabled F.O. Select to easily achieve greater quality, efficiency and durability of their cutting tools

Loïc Jacot, 5th Generation family member of F.O. Select

Loïc Jacot, 5th Generation family member of F.O. Select said, “Our business was founded in 1886 by my Great Great Grandfather when he started manufacturing razor blades. At the beginning of the 20th century, the multinational company “Gillette” entered the European market and Arnold Schumacher decided to diversify the production with different cutting tools.”

“Our customers like the fact that we are still a family business. We have 130 years of experience in the production of tools. In general, we can say that we work with all main key cutting machine producers on the market. Since all people in the world use keys you need to cut millions and millions of keys every day. The market is niche but worldwide.”

F.O. Select has the utmost respect for legendary Swiss quality. They specialize in the manufacture of key cutters, cutter wheels and fine tooth cutters. Their dynamism and expertise has led the business to strive constantly for innovative performance and quality assurance. Production wise, the company has leading-edge technology that combines traditional craftsmanship with today’s modern manufacturing methods.

Loïc continues “We produce all our products in-house so we have a control over the whole production process. We produce about 100,000 pieces a year and export our products in 75 different countries with a very short lead time of 48 hours. Keys are becoming more complex because people want more security. Since the market is shifting towards precision we needed more precise machines to manufacture the keys.”

“In Switzerland, if we want to be competitive, we have to be automated, because in Switzerland everything is very expensive. We looked for the best solution for our production needs, understanding that cost reductions could be achieved with better efficiency and productivity. Investing in capital equipment is expensive and we needed to calculate if we should buy a new machinery. We looked at how the ANCA FX5 grinding machine would help us in the production process in terms of productivity through automated solutions. Quality is also very important to our business.”

“We have achieved these savings by investing in equipment that can run without human intervention, or ‘lights out’. This means they can run, producing tools, after office hours – during the night and weekends unattended.”

“In fact, since we installed our FX5 ANCA grinding machine we have been working 24 hours seven days a week.”

“New technology is very important because they bring efficiency, reliability, and precision. Our new ANCA machine is very precise, automated; and thanks to the laser we can measure the pieces on the machine and the machine will, by itself, change the software to make the measurement correct. This is crucial when working unmanned during the night or weekend.”

“The ANCA machine is easy to set up because the software is user friendly. We had no experience how to set up grinding machine producing endmills before our first ANCA machine. And now we have two and in the future maybe more.”

“We received training from ANCA to help set up the machine correctly. The robot is very easy to set up, so in a few minutes, you can change the diameter or you can change the table and the machine will be ready for production. And the good thing also is, I mean, the machine is more compact. I mean in comparison — if we compare our old ANCA machine and the new one, the new one is maybe 30% smaller.”  

“We have a bright future because we have modern machines, precise ones, automated. And since we control the whole production process we developed our know-how and we produce more precise and more durable tools,”  Loïc Jacot, F.O. Select.


For further information, please contact:

Johanna Boland
Group PR and Communications Manager, ANCA
M: +61 407799779
Johanna.Boland@anca.com

ANCA is a market leading manufacturer of CNC grinding machines. It was founded in 1974 in Melbourne, Australia where the company still has its global headquarters. ANCA has offices in the UK, Germany, China, Thailand, India, Japan, Brazil and the USA as well as a comprehensive network of representatives and agents worldwide.

ANCA CNC grinders are used for manufacturing precision cutting tools and components across a diverse range of competitive industries including cutting tool manufacture, automotive, aerospace, electronics and medical.

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Marketing for Manufacturers: Let Your Customers be your Marketers

By Johanna Boland, Group Strategy and Communications Manager at ANCA CNC Machines

Johanna Boland
Johanna Boland

When I moved into the Communications role at ANCA, an Australian manufacturing company, I anticipated our marketing activity would be straightforward, and, if anything, a little bit dull. 

I knew I would be working in the technology sector, and that was interesting, but I wasn’t sure how much creativity would be encouraged or needed in a B2B organization. 

And to be honest that is what I found. We are a fully privately-owned Australian manufacturer running for over 45 years from Melbourne and export 99 per cent of our product overseas. ANCA is thriving with around 1,000 employees and is a world leading manufacturer of CNC grinding machines, motion controls, sheet metal solutions and components. 

We have customers in over 45 countries and facilities in the UK, Germany, China, Thailand, India, Japan, Brazil and the USA as well as a network of representatives and agents worldwide. So as a business ANCA was doing well.

My first job was to benchmark against our competitors, and we were easily meeting the same standards. We had a strong brand, advanced product management process, advertised, participated in the right exhibitions, produced good, printed sales materials and had a passable website. All respectable, solid traditional marketing activities. 

But it wasn’t just traditional marketing that enabled us to take the top position in our market. We make a really great product with extraordinary technology backed up by a global sales and service infrastructure. It was a positive customer experience that saw us dominate our market.

We were successful and our customers loved us – so why break what wasn’t broken? Finding my feet, I realized the potential of this opportunity. 

With a more progressive marketing strategy we could offer greater customer value and stand out in our market. We wanted to be progressive in channels but also in our approach and content.

Firstly, we considered the customer experience and from reviewing social media, I got a very strong sense of the people behind the machines. These cutting tool manufacturers considered themselves as craftspeople who made objects just as beautiful and refined as a guitar. 

Tapping into this passion and profiling the person as well as the technology has differentiated us compared to our competitors. Telling our users’ stories has helped us better engage and inform customers.

We also looked at our channels and digital was the one to tackle first. Our website was old and clunky – but again, against our sector we were not doing badly. 

The business wasn’t shouting for a new website, but with dated architecture and visuals the site wasn’t the perfect match for our brand. We boasted technology that could grind to an accuracy of <0.002 millimeters, yet our website was over ten years old, and looked it. 

In our new website we have a careers section to highlight how cool ANCA was to work for, video integration for highlighting new products, a news and media section to add value for our customers and it is integrated to our customer relationship management system (CRM) for lead generation and visibility. 

Our next step will be to launch an e-commerce platform in a few months – something I am sure our competitors are not ready for and which will further help position us as a progressive business and grow revenue. 

Our content marketing not only adds value to the customer but it also profiles our experienced technical experts and reinforces ANCA’s brand as the leader in its field. Social media has also provided important access to the voice of customer and our Product managers regularly use the global Cutting Tool Facebook Forum to seek customer insights and understand what the market is thinking.

We were the first in our industry to really have a go at social media and are now streaks ahead of our competition in both followers and engagement. In fact, our competitors are copying our campaigns in their own social feeds. Thankfully it is much easier to start in front than to catch up.

Posting regular content and engaging with customers’ posts has built a thriving community. We see tons of fantastic user generated content with customers sharing photos of the tools they have produced on our machines every day. Using the hashtag #MadeonANCA, we now have hundreds of mini customer testimonials that give meaningful credibility to our brand.

Going back to the people behind the machine, we prioritized activity to improve the customer experience, rather than selling the product. Our #ToolTipTuesday series has been a hit. 

We post a short informative video with tips on how to use our software. These videos have attracted almost 85,000 views on YouTube since launch. A sales person recently had a call from Boeing asking about a machine after seeing a tool tip which piqued their interest. 

Given our machines can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, this was a cost-effective sales lead. Our #ANCAFlashBackFriday posts spark conversations about past achievements and memories to help reinforce our heritage and brand loyalty. We are also about to launch our own TV show — ANCA Academy — to host on our YouTube channel. What I am most proud of is our Tool of the Year competition, which is now in its fourth year. 

The team built a campaign that has attracted over 100 entries from Turkey, India, Italy, France, Thailand, USA, Germany, Poland, China, Russia, Japan, Korea and Malaysia. We livestream the results at the major trade fair of the year and gain significant media coverage to boost our customers’ brands. 

Last year there were almost 30 entries received from across the world, achieving 70 media appearances seen by over 80,000 fans and generating over 200,000 engagements on social media.

Awards are not a new concept, but this format was for our industry, especially using social media as part of the campaign. We use our Facebook channel for the community to like the entries and select the finalists, helping grow our own Facebook page and reach a broader audience. 

We found an influencer, Alfred Lyon, and asked him to be a judge. Alfred is a customer in the USA who has over 45 thousand followers on Instagram – and I don’t imagine that many people would bother to follow if they weren’t interested in content featuring cutting tools. 

At a trade show in Germany when we announced the winner on the stand a customer came up to me and thanked me for giving their industry a platform to be recognized.

Four years into working for ANCA I have seen the value of thinking creatively and bringing new and different ways of building your brand to a business. Traditional marketing remains fundamental, but building a personality around our product, telling a story and considering the person behind the machine has helped us gain a more vibrant and open reputation. 


Johanna Boland is Group Strategy and Communications Manager at ANCA CNC Machines.


For further information, please contact:
Johanna Boland
Group PR and Communications Manager, ANCA
M: +61 407799779
Johanna.Boland@anca.com

ANCA is a market leading manufacturer of CNC grinding machines. It was founded in 1974 in Melbourne, Australia where the company still has its global headquarters. ANCA has offices in the UK, Germany, China, Thailand, India, Japan, Brazil and the USA as well as a comprehensive network of representatives and agents worldwide.

ANCA CNC grinders are used for manufacturing precision cutting tools and components across a diverse range of competitive industries including cutting tool manufacture, automotive, aerospace, electronics and medical.

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Gorilla Mill Grows Up with ANCA

Carbide Grinding Company, Inc, was established in 1974, and developed a reputation as a small, specialist maker of tools, supplying Milwaukee-area manufacturers like Snap-on and Harley-Davidson.

After purchasing the company in 2003 and giving it a new image as Gorilla Mill two years after — its branding is simian-themed, aggressive, fun, and comes with the tagline “Weapons of Mass Production” — Kevin Cranker has set the company on a solid growth path.  

They are now up to 48 employees, with 300 distributors worldwide, and a diverse spread of customers.

These include automotive and defense suppliers, aerospace customers including Boeing, and space clients like SpaceX and Blue Origin.

But it’s the support of “mom and pop” shops that Cranker seems happiest about.

“They’re the guys who keep our work up,” he explains.

“When one of the big guys goes away it stings a bit. But then we have a number of small mom and pop job shops that we love doing business with because they’re always there and just always buying.”

Cranker says ANCA CNC Machines has played a large role in Gorilla’s Mills’ progress.

After investing in and being disappointed by a European-made tool and cutter grinding machine early in the millennium, he decided to try an RGX, suitable for re-grinding and low-volume production.

The machine is still part of GM’s collection of ANCA machines, and has been joined by 17 others.

“I’ve been buying a couple a year pretty steady here for the last five or six years. Probably going to need some more here before 2022.”

“We have several RX7s. Several MX7s. A couple of TX7s. We’ve got now a bunch of FX7s. It’s a mix of all different older ones and newer ones. I really, really like the new ones with the linear motors, which work really well.”

Cranker says linear motors made by ANCA Motion offer a “night and day” difference versus ballscrew motion, with greater precision and speeds, and much greater durability in a workshop where a lot of carbide sludge is generated.

ANCA’s pioneering simulation software was another enabler, and took the “heartache and headache” out of designing the geometries of Gorilla’s patented four-and five-flute mills, which Cranker designed with Mark Greenwood.

The firm adopted simulation with the purchase of its second ANCA machine, and it has proved invaluable ever since.

“The GM Team quickly identified the value in ANCA 3D CIMulation in its assistance to design and develop new tool geometries without actually grinding a physical tool,” says ANCA Inc General Manager, Russell Riddiford.

“Then they take that design to the ANCA machine and get the first tool off the machine perfectly as designed in the 3D CIMulation.”

Cranker adds of tool development that there would be “just no way we could do it” without the 3D CIMulation.

“We were able to mess around with geometries in a virtual space and not waste materials and machine time and everything else,” he says.

“But nowadays the simulator has just gotten so much better with all these new additions and the fact that now you can make blueprint drawings from it and you can just do a whole lot more.”

One software feature that gets regular use is tool balancing, introduced in ToolRoom RN34. This has proven “a huge help,” mainly for single-flute routers, enabling design of tools for high-speed machining that won’t produce noise and chatter and damage workpieces.  

Levels of user friendliness and automation options available on ANCA machines have also grown up with Gorilla Mill.  

“Cross training” required among the fast-growing workforce is minimal, and most of the workshop’s machines have the same ANCA software.

“Plus, we have all of our machines tapped into a network,” says Cranker.

“We can just manipulate toolpaths and tool programs right in our simulator and then shoot that over to whatever machine they’re needed at.”

Every machine is equipped with a robotic loader — either a pallet-style or a newer AR300 unit — helping make lights out work possible. Daytime is for custom and short-run production. The third shift is unmanned.

As the company grows its staff and revenues — which have risen nearly 900 per cent since the beginning of the Gorilla Mill era — Cranker estimates it will continue to invest in FX and MX machines, as well as robotic options to go with these.

“We currently have the ability to make 3,500 endmills a night if need be, and that’s huge for us, says Cranker, who recalls the company getting started with automation on the old RGX machine.

“It can be tricky if you don’t know how to set things up right, and ANCA’s done a pretty good job of trying to keep complications to a minimum. But we honed our skills, and every time we moved up we bought another loader, because I really want to be able to make tools lights out.”


For further information, please contact:

Johanna Boland
Group PR and Communications Manager, ANCA
M: +61 407799779
Johanna.Boland@anca.com

ANCA is a market leading manufacturer of CNC grinding machines. It was founded in 1974 in Melbourne, Australia where the company still has its global headquarters. ANCA has offices in the UK, Germany, China, Thailand, India, Japan, Brazil and the USA as well as a comprehensive network of representatives and agents worldwide.

ANCA CNC grinders are used for manufacturing precision cutting tools and components across a diverse range of competitive industries including cutting tool manufacture, automotive, aerospace, electronics and medical.

Continue reading

Exact Metrology Scans Celebrity Soaps

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company and a comprehensive 3D metrology service provider and hardware sales company, recently used Blue Light Scanning technology to mass produce celebrity-themed soaps. These soaps will be sold by a non-profit for charity.

Blue Light Scanning, a form of structured light scanning technology, operates by using a combination of projector, camera and a lens system. By using a projector, a pattern of light is created and the shadowed, dark areas on the object get measured for data collection. The scanner utilizes optical non-contact technology to capture millions of accurate points in a single fast scan.

Noah Branscum, Exact Metrology Application Engineer for Short Range Scanning, working at the company’s Cincinnati office, completed the soap scan. Steps involved using reference points to help the scanner understand where the carved head is in space. Then, he took a “scan” using the scanner to display the lines of blue light onto the part and had two cameras reading how the lines refracted off the part, producing multiple lines of 3D points in space.”  After going around the part to take several scans, Branscum proceeded to use reference points to stitch each scan together. He then created a .stl file of the 3D scan data by way of a “mesh”, using ATOS Professional software. This software is used to operate the sensor head, process the 3D point cloud data and to edit and post-process the data. Besides polygon mesh generation and editing, additional features include sensor control, sectioning and primitive generation.

Discussing the challenges of scanning these famous faces, Branscum commented the scanner was limited in its “line of sight.” “Things like between the eyes and eyelids can be a bit though, or where there’s very sharp valleys like the lips.” Thankfully, ATOS Professional also helps fill in the holes with feature and character line detection.

Asked about future projects like this, Branscum concluded, “We love challenges and this was a fun experience for us. We look forward to working on equally challenging projects in the future.”


Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, is ISO9001, AS9100 Certified as well as ITAR Registered. 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, with facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio, Moline, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, plus affiliated offices throughout the country, is a comprehensive metrology services provider, offering customers 3D and CT scanning, reverse engineering, quality inspection, product development and 2D drawings. The company also provides turnkey metrology solutions, including equipment sales and lease/rental arrangements.   

In-Place Machining Company: On-Site Machining Solutions In-Place, Any Place in the World.

In-Place Machining Company, with facilities in Wisconsin, Washington, Virginia, Ohio, California, and Ontario, Canada, is the premier provider of high-precision engineered on-site machining, metrology, and large scale cutting & drilling services for a wide range of renewable energy, aerospace, industrial, and military customers throughout the world.

For more information, please contact: 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company

Dean Solberg
20515 Industry Avenue 
Brookfield, WI 53045 
Local: 262-533-0800
www.exactmetrology.com
deans@exactmetrology.com

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company
Steve Young
11575 Goldcoast Drive   
Cincinnati, OH 45249 
Local: 513-831-6620
Toll Free: 866-722-2600
www.exactmetrology.com
stevey@exactmetrology.com

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Exact Metrology Reverse Engineers an Impact Driver Body

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company and a comprehensive 3D metrology service provider and hardware sales company, recently reverse engineered an impact driver body.  

Impact Driver Body

Reverse engineering involves digitally deconstructing products to extract design information from them. Thus, users can determine how a part was designed so that it can be recreated. Although the process tends to imply that 3D scanning will be used solely for product design, it can be used to address many other engineering functions. These include product design and manufacturing, facilities maintenance and plant engineering, architectural and civil engineering and custom manufacturing.

While there are many ways to reverse engineer, CT scanning was used due to plastic nature of the impact driver body. CT excels in digitalizing small plastic parts. This impact driver body was scanned using the ZEISS METROTOM 6 scout. This CT scanner digitizes complex parts including the internal geometries at the finest level of detail. Users obtain a complete 3D image for GD&T analysis or nominal-actual comparisons.  The combination of a 3k detector and 225 kV X-ray enables ZEISS METROTOM 6 scout to provide high contrast, high-resolution measurement results and exceptional sharpness of detail. As a result, even the smallest defects in the part become visible and can be analyzed to the last detail. Furthermore, CT scanning quickly captures data and one scan can be used for void analysis, inspection, volume porosity, etc.  A 5-axis kinematics with integrated centering table helps clients optimally position the part in the measuring volume and the control of the device and the metrological evaluation of the data are combined in a single software package, making additional software or intermediate steps redundant.

Reverse engineering process

Greg Groth, the Division Manager at the company’s Brookfield, Wisconsin office explained that the impact driver body although relatively ubiquitous, presents many challenges in the digital modeling process. One of these challenges includes the complex geometry. The smooth outside ergonomics can be difficult to duplicate and interpret with traditional CAD functionality. According to Groth, “We used a combination of hybrid NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) modeling to duplicate the smooth, sculpted surfaces and combined them with traditional mechanical CAD features to create the part shape.”  Another challenge with plastics components is replicating complete parting lines from the original tooling to make the part. These can zig-zag around the part depending on the geometry and are sometimes omitted or cleaned up at the factory. The final challenge involves compensating for warp and shrink during manufacturing, as injection molding is used. Once the formed part starts to cool, it may change its shape. Predicting the movement and compensating it back to the intended design was time consuming.


Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, is ISO9001, AS9100 Certified as well as ITAR Registered. 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, with facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio, Moline, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, plus affiliated offices throughout the country, is a comprehensive metrology services provider, offering customers 3D and CT scanning, reverse engineering, quality inspection, product development and 2D drawings. The company also provides turnkey metrology solutions, including equipment sales and lease/rental arrangements.   

In-Place Machining Company: On-Site Machining Solutions In-Place, Any Place in the World.

In-Place Machining Company, with facilities in Wisconsin, Washington, Virginia, Ohio, California, and Ontario, Canada, is the premier provider of high-precision engineered on-site machining, metrology, and large scale cutting & drilling services for a wide range of renewable energy, aerospace, industrial, and military customers throughout the world.

For more information, please contact: 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company
Dean Solberg
20515 Industry Avenue 
Brookfield, WI 53045 
Local: 262-533-0800
www.exactmetrology.com
deans@exactmetrology.com

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company
Steve Young
11575 Goldcoast Drive   
Cincinnati, OH 45249 
Local: 513-831-6620
Toll Free: 866-722-2600
www.exactmetrology.com
stevey@exactmetrology.com

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Siemens and TRAK Machine Tools pave the way towards Digitalization for job shops

SINUMERIK ONE digital-native CNC selected as the control of choice for new line of milling and turning production machines

TRAK Machine Tools vertical machining center-series equipped with SINUMERIK ONE is now available

Siemens announced today that its SINUMERIK ONE CNC platform has been selected by TRAK Machine Tools (Southwestern Industries, Inc.) as the control of choice for their new VMC-series milling and TC-series turning machines.  These new machine tools are intended to work in the high-volume, price-sensitive job shop market.

According to company president Steve Pinto, “TRAK wanted to partner with a large, well-established CNC leader with a global footprint for a new line of production machines, aiming
to reach a new level of digitalization — one that reflected that trend in every area of life today.” 

Throughout the process, Siemens employed a consulting approach, selling the value of SINUMERIK CNC and the entire Siemens portfolio of product, software, communications and cloud-based data analytics. The transition to Siemens CNC was made easier, as conventional programming and HMI with SINUMERIK ONE had the same look-and-feel as the TRAK captive control.  Wanting to offer automation in its portfolio, Siemens gave TRAK Machine Tools a wide range of possibilities, with the digital-native CNC.

Siemens is providing user support by ramping up its standard CNC offerings for the job shop market with SINUMERIK ONE, standard PLCs for mills and lathes, custom HMI screens and
it has worked closely TRAK Machine Tools for training.  TRAK staff including application engineers, sales, service and dealers were offered SINUMERIK online web-based training,
in-person training, and time on the machines for benchmarking and test cuts.  As always, Siemens is offering spare parts, 24-hour service and a quick repair turnaround to support its products and TRAK Machine Tools’ dealers.

Digital Twin of the TRAK VMC7si using Create MyVirtual Machine from Siemens

In the future, TRAK Machine Tools also plans to develop a 5-axis and horizontal CNC offering with SINUMERIK ONE.  The company is looking to brand-label a robot to automate their CNC machine with the SINUMERIK Run MyRobot application, integral to the SINUMERIK ONE CNC platform. 

Brian McMinn, head of the Siemens Machine Tool Systems business, observed, “This development marks the first US-based OEM that has accepted the digital-native CNC concept of SINUMERIK ONE.  At every stage of development — from concept to the Digital Twin of the machine known as Create MyVirtual Machine — to the prototype and runout, Siemens has collaborated with TRAK in a very unique way.  The result is an exciting line of CNC machines that will significantly impact the job shop market, almost immediately.  We are proud to partner with this forward-thinking machine tool builder.” 

Steve Pinto concluded, “Having found the right technology partner in Siemens, we can now offer machine technology solutions to help TRAK customers confidently take the next step into digitally-enabled production.” 

Machine tool builders benefit from the Digital Twin by speeding up development and commissioning times to new levels of quality and efficiency

For more information about SINUMERIK ONE, please visit usa.siemens.com/sinumerik-one.

For specific product information and inquiries, send an e-mail to: cnc.marketing.us@siemens.com   

Siemens Digital Industries (DI) is an innovation leader in automation and digitalization. Closely collaborating with partners and customers, DI drives the digital transformation in the process and discrete industries. With its Digital Enterprise portfolio, DI provides companies of all sizes with an end-to-end set of products, solutions and services to integrate and digitalize the entire value chain. Optimized for the specific needs of each industry, DI’s unique portfolio supports customers to achieve greater productivity and flexibility. DI is constantly adding innovations to its portfolio to integrate cutting-edge future technologies. Siemens Digital Industries has its global headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany, and has around 75,000 employees internationally.

Siemens Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of power generation and distribution, intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems, and automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industries. Through the separately managed company Siemens Mobility, a leading supplier of smart mobility solutions for rail and road transport, Siemens is shaping the world market for passenger and freight services. Due to its majority stakes in the publicly listed companies Siemens Healthineers AG and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Siemens is also a world-leading supplier of medical technology and digital healthcare services as well as environmentally friendly solutions for onshore and offshore wind power generation. For more than 160 years, the company has innovated and invented technologies to support American industry spanning manufacturing, energy, healthcare and infrastructure. In fiscal 2018, Siemens USA reported revenue of $23.7 billion, including $5.0 billion in exports, and employs approximately 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

About TRAK Machine Tools (Southwestern Industries, Inc.)

TRAK Machine Tools is well-known for its ProtoTRAK brand of CNCs and TRAK Machines.  Founded in 1952 as a job shop serving the aerospace industry, it has been manufacturing ProtoTRAK CNCs since 1984 and selling them throughout North American and Europe. TRAK Machine Tools fields direct-to-customer Sales and Service Organizations throughout the United States in many of the areas that have high concentrations of manufacturing.  Where it does not have its own field sales and service, TRAK Machine Tools serves customers via close relationships with independent distributors that share the core values of service to customers and community that has been the key to the enormous popularity of the ProtoTRAK and TRAK brands. The new initiative with SIEMENS will utilize the talents and reach of TRAK Machine Tools beyond the toolroom and into production and automation applications. For more information, please see www.trakmt.com.

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Siemens Partners with Morgan Automation To Supply New “Motion Picture” at Steel Mill

Fully automated non-manned coil handling cranes and coil transfer cars integrated with motion control and communications hardware; zero downtime after six months of operation

Autonomous Coil Yard (ACY) run at major steel company in the Midwest, operated by crane system provided to the mill by Morgan Automation of Alliance, Ohio. Myriad Siemens controls are onboard the system, both hardware and software.

A major U.S. steel mill in Arkansas required an entirely new approach to coil handling for its rolled-to-order production strategy.  Its engineering and materials handling equipment partner, Morgan Automation, devised and implemented a fully-automated, non-manned series of three cranes to work with two coil transfer cars accepting hot coils off the walking beam from the hot mill.  In manufacturing this system solution, Morgan turned to its longtime drives and motion control partner, Siemens, who provided a full complement of drive, plc, safety I/O, power quality meters, PCs, wireless hardware plus communication software and its TIA Portal for commissioning and monitoring on the project.  According to the president of Morgan Automation, Mark Sharamitaro, “The excellent reliability and performance of the Siemens solution on this project was invaluable in helping us achieve complete operational efficiency and zero downtime during the first six months of operation.”

Typical control cabinet houses drives and other hardware to run the crane system.

This greenfield project involved the handling of approximately 1000 coils or 30,000 tons of steel a day at the mill.  A typical coil in this yard is approximately 83” OD x 82” W and weighs 28 tons on average.  As the mill operates on a “made to order” mindset, there is a dual challenge of handling hot coils from the mill and organizing their staging for shipment by truck, rail or barge, with an additional quadrant on the ground for coils heading via the coil transfer cars provided by Morgan to the Pickling Line Tandem Cold Mill (PLTCM) on the premises.  In the proposed and enclosed coil yard, the walking beam would deliver the coils from the hot mill, then the crane grab would secure the individual coil and place it in the coil transfer car or on a saddle in the appropriate quadrant on the floor.  During low production times, the system would defrag the coil assortment into the proper positions to conserve storage space with full tracking in real time.  Each crane has a thermal imaging camera for temp sensing plus a patent-pending laser positioning system. The comprehensive data tracking is clearly displayed in the mill control room with real time KPI calculations. 

The goals for this new autonomous coil yard (ACY) included the indoor facility to reduce rust and corrosion, improved coil handling to meet the shipping protocols, reduced energy costs by eliminating lift truck handling and reducing physical distancing of coils, plus faster location of the coils on their saddles for crane handling into shipment staging areas.  Critical overall was the safety of the personnel, so a system of nine remote I/O cabinets and 21 safety gates was to be implemented.  Integration of the entire operation was to be handled by the proprietary Morgan CEPHAS logistic management system with a rules-based engine for algorithmic decision-making.  All the information management would be transmitted and handled by mill personnel, using the in-house platform and virtual private network (VPN). 

With those logistics, performance goals and system integration requirements, Morgan began the process of working with the Siemens team to utilize the full range of product and software options for construction of the optimum materials handling, motion control and data management system for the ACY.   According to Mark Sharamitaro, “We were bringing our established CEPHAS warehouse management system to this challenge and seeking to marry it to a single user interface, driven by the rules established by our customer, so there’s essentially a single bucket of data on each coil.”  In that “bucket” are all the physical characteristics and temperature of the coil plus the determined location for placement.  All these data are transmitted through a series of Siemens SINAMICS drive modules, SIMATIC PLCs and the SINEMA network monitoring server, complemented by WinCC V16 supervisory control for monitoring over long distances.  In addition, Siemens offered its SCALANCE wireless suite of ethernet switches and access points to communicate the ring topology and VLAN data to the mill control room personnel.

Morgan technician programs the Siemens PLC to coordinate with the Morgan CEPHAS system for ACY control

The Siemens SIPLUS controller components were used outside of the e-house because of the higher ambient temperatures, as these devices are built for more hostile environments.  Sharamitaro reported that the Morgan team actually tested these components beyond their published ratings, so his team knew they would perform in this application, especially at the moment when the crane would pick up a hot coil and hoist it up near the trolley with the controls onboard. 

Sharamitaro also noted the need for an embedded quality system to identify secondary coils on the floor and determine their transfer path.  As each coil is grabbed, a full battery of sensors, switches, I/O power supply, drives, PLCs and wireless communication sends information from the crane trolley directly to the control house.  The three 190-ton cranes are thus fully synchronized for handling the incoming coils from the hot mill plus the placement of the coils in the transfer cars and staging lines.  The information feeds the CEPHAS system of Morgan Automation, which makes the algorithmic determinations for each coil, based on predetermined parameters set by the mill.  An extremely efficient and reliable system of coil handling is achieved, as a result. 

Mill personnel (as shown in the video link) cannot access any of the four quadrants in the ACY if the lockout devices are engaged. The ground-based safety system literally “asks” the crane for permission before allowing personnel to access the area. 

CEPHAS logistic management system tracks every coil being handled

Leading the project for Siemens were Roland Najbar, business development manager, as well as Rick Ludlow, account manager, both focused in the crane industry.  Najbar comments on this project, “Once we had the full requirements from Morgan, we went to work assembling our motion control and material handling product and software suites to accommodate them.  The need for fully unattended operation and wireless communication in the mill presented some challenges, but our team responded with a combination of time-tested drive, wireless and PLC products as well as some newer offerings such as the SINEMA network monitoring system.”  He further noted that Morgan took the Siemens offerings to new heights of performance, through the integration with CEPHAS, the Morgan logistic management system that performs inventory tracking and routes every coil from the mill to the shipping stage in a time-sensitive and deterministic order of motion. 

The SINAMICS drives interface with the SIMATIC S7-1500 PLCs on this application to seamlessly distribute data and commands through a network of safety I/O, also supplied by the Siemens crane team. 

Najbar also cited the intentional redundancy in the drive safety and production isolation that allowed the cranes to keep working independently but in a highly integrated manner to achieve a non-stop production environment at the mill.  Through the Siemens SIMATIC S7-1500TF PLC, integrated safety is provided, along with the drives in this system.  The open communication protocol on the PLC allows for C++ high-level language applications, such as protocol converters, database connectivity, complex algorithms such as those on the Morgan CEPHAS system plus integration of crane vision systems and laser trackers. 

CEPHAS system provided by Morgan tracks the position and status of every coil in the ACY, divided by grid location for staging of shipments.

To evidence the energy savings, Siemens also provided its PAC3200 power meters that track and record power consumption ongoing in a system and efficiently communicate data over a network protocol.  Another key component in the Siemens solution here was the SINAMICS S120 Smart Line Module for crane applications, which features onboard regenerative drive.  This feature takes the excess motor power from a crane hoist, for example, during descent and feeds it to another component in the system or back to the grid for trackable energy savings to the customer.  Further, this Smart Line Module has particular application in the crane world, as it features a line-commutated infeed that is enhanced by the use of IGBTs that avoid commutation faults typical of thyristor-based rectifiers.

Morgan Automation is sister company to Morgan Engineering and part of the Morgan Industries group of companies, which has served the steel industry for over 150 years.  Morgan designs, engineers, builds, commissions and services its systems.  Morgan Engineering is well known throughout the world as the leading designer of overhead electric traveling cranes, a holder of thousands of patents and designs, and manufacturer of more than 30,000 cranes. In addition to custom overhead cranes for aluminum companies, steel mills, electric power plants, refuse facilities, container handling and general industry, Morgan manufactures equipment such as transfer cars, ladles, scrap buckets, presses, manipulators and large fabrications.  It has been in a close supplier relationship with Siemens Motion Control for over a decade. 

For a full video on this coil handling operation, please click here:

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Exact Metrology Scans Sculpture by Tennessee Artist

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, a comprehensive 3D metrology service provider and hardware sales company, recently scanned a sculpture by a Memphis, Tennessee artist, Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo, a resident at Crosstown Arts in Memphis.

The sculpture is based on a growing sinkhole that has not been fixed and is getting worse. Cornejo was looking for a metrology company that could capture all the details. An artist friend, who had worked with Exact Metrology in the past, recommended the company to her. After contacting Exact Metrology, Sarah Elizabeth sent her sculpture to the company’s Cincinnati, Ohio location for CT scanning. The sculpture was made so that it could be held.

Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo
Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo

CT scanning is an x-ray methodology yielding 3D results by placing an object on a rotational stage between an x-ray tube and an x-ray detector, rotating the object 360 degrees and capturing images at specific intervals. In order to render the 3D x-ray model of the part or object, the images are then reconstructed. CT visualization software allows users to slice through in any direction to produce optimal views and images required for the analysis of the internal configuration.  CT scanning is the only way to get 3D views inside a part and also the only way to get true dimensional data without cutting up or destroying the object. In addition, very little time is required to capture data and troubleshoot parts. Lastly, a single scan can be used for void analysis, inspection, volume, porosity, reverse engineering, etc.

Powered by CT scanning, company personnel were able to send Cornejo the data she needs to scale it to the purposes of a 10 foot sculpture. The sculpture will be installed on the campus of the University of Memphis. The sculpture is immersive, so visitors will be able to walk into it. It is made of hardware cloth, aluminum fencing, epoxy clay, asphalt from Memphis and acrylic paint. The interior has reflective beads.

Sarah Elizabeth Cornejo is an interdisciplinary artist. Her work proposes a futuristic mythology for humanity where humans have evolved into hybrid beings with animals and insects. She is the co-founder and co-curator of BASEMENT, a provisional artist-run space in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is also a 2021 New Public Sculpture Fellow with the Urban Arts Commission in Memphis.

Talking about her collaboration with Exact Metrology, Cornejo said, “I came into this project not having much of an idea of what was possible from a 3-D scan but having a sense of what I was hoping to do with it in order to scale up my sculpture from ten inches to ten feet. Exact Metrology was incredibly patient in taking time to learn about the project, asking what I needed out of the final scan, and then talking to me about their recommendations for how to get the information I was looking for out of my maquette. They took time to trouble shoot the different possibilities, communicated with me along the way with some progress scans, and ultimately got me the result I needed to move forward with the piece.


Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, is ISO9001, AS9100 Certified as well as ITAR Registered. 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, with facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio, Moline, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, plus affiliated offices throughout the country, is a comprehensive metrology services provider, offering customers 3D and CT scanning, reverse engineering, quality inspection, product development and 2D drawings. The company also provides turnkey metrology solutions, including equipment sales and lease/rental arrangements.   

For more information, please contact: 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company
Steve Young
11575 Goldcoast Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45249
Local: 513-831-6620
Toll Free: 866-722-2600
www.exactmetrology.com
stevey@exactmetrology.com

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Exact Metrology Scans Vertebrae Plate

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company and a comprehensive 3D metrology service provider and hardware sales company, scanned a titanium cervical spine locking plate. The scan was completed by Brendon Belongia, an Applications Engineer at the Brookfield, Wisconsin office using the ZEISS METROTOM 6 scout.

The METROTOM 6 scout digitizes complex parts including the internal geometries at the finest level of detail. Users obtain a complete 3D image for GD&T analysis or nominal-actual comparisons. High- resolution images can be captured for precise measuring tasks or detailed inspections of internal structures. Be it shrinkage holes, pores, cracks, sink marks or warpage, all defects or deviations can be detected nondestructively.  Furthermore, the combination of a 3k detector and 225 kV X-ray enables ZEISS METROTOM 6 scout to provide high contrast, high-resolution measurement results and exceptional sharpness of detail. As a result, even the smallest defects in the part become visible and can be analyzed to the last detail. A 5-axis kinematics with integrated centering table helps clients optimally position the part in the measuring volume and the control of the device and the metrological evaluation of the data are combined in a single software package, making additional software or intermediate steps redundant.

With this CT scan, the company demonstrates its ability to scan even the smallest part, such as 4 mm. This vertebrae plate was measured within a 5-micron resolution and used a deviation color map with the GOM Volume Inspect software. The color representation of a point cloud or mesh data set is compared to its intended, nominal CAD model.  This spectrum of colors can tell users how far a value deviates compared to the CAD surfaces. Thus, a weak spot can be detected and can be fixed before a part is used.

The ability of the ZEISS METROTOM 6 scout to see the tinniest defect or detail is especially crucial for medical devices, especially those that go into the human body.


Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, is ISO9001, AS9100 Certified as well as ITAR Registered. 

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company, with facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio, Moline, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, plus affiliated offices throughout the country, is a comprehensive metrology services provider, offering customers 3D and CT scanning, reverse engineering, quality inspection, product development and 2D drawings. The company also provides turnkey metrology solutions, including equipment sales and lease/rental arrangements.   

For more information, please contact:

Exact Metrology: A Division of In-Place Machining Company
Steve Young, Vice President
11575 Goldcoast Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45249
Local: 513-831-6620
Toll Free: 866-722-2600
www.exactmetrology.com
stevey@exactmetrology.com

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J.D. Bouwman and Cornelius Kiesel

Zimmermann Designs Custom Milling Machines for Large Moldmaker

For a short video on this collaboration between Zimmermann and Commercial Tool & Die, please see:

Zimmermann Milling Solutions, a leading global high-tech supplier of portal milling machines recently designed three custom milling machines for Commercial Tool & Die (CTD).

CTD is a family-owned and operated business with a long-standing reputation of building exceptional and extremely large plastic injection molds. Markets served include automotive, truck cab bodies, construction equipment and others. They have been successfully using Zimmermann machinery since 2018, so when a need arose for new milling machinery, they went directly to Zimmermann. “We reached out to Zimmermann that we needed a world-class milling machine, because that is what they have,” said Darin Hall, Plant Manager, Commercial Tool & Die.

Machining plastic injection molds has specific requirements and Zimmermann worked with CTD for over three years to design and build machines that met those needs.  “We went the extra mile because we knew that this was what Commercial Tool was looking for and we wanted to be the right partner,” said Cornelius Kiesel, President, Zimmermann. The final result was machines with the unique Zimmermann head design with multiple cutting axis to enable CTD to complete projects by speeding up production and improving accuracy without an excessive number of setups.

When J.D. Bouwman, President, Commercial Tool Group, was asked about the collaboration between the two companies and his favorite thing about the new machines, he replied, “We’ve challenged Zimmermann and they’ve really done a great job of responding to those challenges. Our Zimmermann’s have really helped us bring our machining to the next level. We’re able to achieve unattended numbers that we’ve never had before in the shop and that’s really a testament to our relationship with and the quality of the machines and just the overall build quality of the Zimmermann. It’s just a super, super solid machine.” He added, “I know that if we’re looking for a big machine in the future, we’re definitely going to be turning to Zimmermann.”


For more information, please contact:

ZIMMERMANN INC. 
30587 Century Drive
Wixom, MI 48393
Phone:  248-956-8511
www.zimmermann-inc.com
Ms. Lena Kiesel, Marketing Manager
lena@zimmermann-inc.com

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