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Machine Tools/CNC

Indian machine tool makers must invest in R&D and add value to products to stay competitive

When imtex forming and tooltech 2016 kicked off early this year, the industry was given a general feeling of their own importance and how growth in their industry has a direct bearing on the economy in general. Machine tools of various types have an important bearing on the manufacturing industry. Currently, in India, the automotive industry is one of the largest consumers of machine tools in India.

When manufacturers are working to tight tolerances, the aim is to remove variation from the entire manufacturing process so that all parts and components are, as far as possible, identical. What machine tools do is probe help to remove unwanted variation at each stage of the machining process. Here, we will tackle the machine tools that aid in grinding and turning of key components that will finally be used in critical industries and machinery.

Getting it right
Machine tool probes play a vital role in enabling manufacturing companies in advanced industries to deliver components and products to the highest possible specifications. They provide the basis for precision manufacturing.

Speaking about the advancements in grinding and turning tools, Pradeep Patil, general manager, Yamazaki Mazak India, says, “In recent times, there’s been an increase in demand for automation, flexible manufacturing systems, multi-tasking machines, and in-process gauging. The industry is approaching its advancement and Mazak is a pioneer not only in terms of advanced machine tools but also for complete solutions that include wide variety automation processes to enhance productivity.”
In order for India’s machine tool industry to increase its chances at global competition, it is imperative that they commit to regularly expand and advance their product facilities so as to maintain market share; importantly, Indian firms must invest in research and development efforts. There is also a dire need to add more value to products in order to cope with future needs and maintain competitiveness compared to machine tool manufacturers in other nations.

Mohini Kelkar, managing director, Grind Master Machines India, says, “We make machines for microfinishing, superfinishing, deburring and metal finishing. Not very long ago, deburring was a neglected operation. The industry felt little need or sought to invest in deburring. We spent a much time educating the customer on the nuances of deburring. But things are now changing. MNCs have started specifying edge radius of finished components.” When Indian auto component manufacturers would export their goods, more often than not, it would be sent back due to the poor deburring quality. It’s a process innovation rather than just the machine. Each manufacturing process like gear hobbing, sheet metal punching, laser cutting, grinding and so on creates different types and amounts of burr and it also depends on how well tools of these processes are maintained. Therefore deburring a part satisfactorily and consistently requires extensive experience of various deburring methods and tools.

Innovating processes

Companies that make machines for grinding and turning need to create effective production tools that are prepared with state-of-the-art machinery. The preparation process continues with dividing the parts into the various stages of operation. Great and advanced machines are fine, but combined with the right software this fleet of machines can make a quantum leap forward when it comes to competitiveness. An important aspect of production here revolves around proper measurement. Utilising this principle, high-speed, high-efficiency cutting has been implemented for aircraft components made of aluminum and other materials. Given this, there has been mounting interest in the dynamic characteristics of a main spindle system that includes a main spindle, chuck and tools.

Patil says, “Mazak Multitasking machines are based on “Done-in-One” concept (Turning, milling, drilling operations in a single set up) thus resulting in major reduction in throughput time during production run. Worldwide, we follow stringent safety norms while building, operating & maintaining machine tools.”

One company that has been in the for front of innovations is Tyrolit. The challenge begins with the selecting the raw materials before, moving on to future-oriented development and highly accurate manufacturing, then to providing comprehensive support for the user. Some of its innovations have been glass-fibre reinforcement in the cut-off and rough grinding wheel sector, ultra-porous ceramic bonded grinding tools, high-speed vitrified-bonded grinding wheels (120 m/s), vitrified-bonded diamond grinding wheels for PCD and PCBN, near net shape procedure for the production of small vitrified grinding tools with precise contouring, and Electric Discharge Machining (EDM) for trueing glass machining tools.

Cost-effectiveness Factor

Technavio’s market research analyst forecasts the production of machine tools in India to grow at a CAGR of 13% during 2016-2020. The automotive and auto components industry has accounted for about 40% of machine tools consumption in India. India is the automotive export hub in the South Asian market for some of the major auto OEMs like Ford, Isuzu, Suzuki, Honda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Fiat. The machine tools market in India is highly fragmented with the presence of several small, medium, and large suppliers, which includes international and regional players. More often than not, the providers in this market compete on the basis of product differentiation, service portfolio, and pricing. The intense competition among the vendors has resulted in increased investment in R&D and implementation of high technology solutions in machine tools.

Calculable availability of means of production ranks as a decisive factor in the realisation of cyber-physical production networks. This has led to the optimisation of service and maintenance processes progressively moving away from the back burner and into the limelight. That is why DMG MORI has collaborated with Schaeffler Technologie to start the innovation project “Machine Tool 4.0” taking the mill/turn centre DMC 80 FD duoBLOCK as a specific example.

Considering the stiff competition, customers are demanding better performance, lower cost, light weight, better efficiency and less noise. Even more so, they want demanding condition monitoring and want to predict failures in advance. These factors are driving product innovation, newer materials and heat treatment processes.

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