A brand new headquarters and manufacturing facility (one of the largest machine tool building operations in the United States). Several new models in its line of machining centers, including a larger horizontal machine for handling oversized parts. A written guarantee that reimburses customers for lost hours if a new machine tool does not deliver 98 percent uptime during its first year in operation. One thing is certain, Haas Automation is a news-maker.
The new plant is a 420,000 square-foot building on an 86-acre industrial site in Oxnard, California, north of Los Angeles, which puts all of the company's manufacturing operations under one roof. According to news releases, Haas has invested $20 million in the new building, with $10 million more invested in new equipment. The plant is designed to streamline the production of machine tools.
The main manufacturing area is divided into two major areas, the larger one devoted to machining components and the other to assembly, testing, shipping, and the production of electronic control units. About 150 machine tools are in production in the machining area, many of these integrated into flexible machining systems with rail-guided automatic pallet shuttles, so that the plant can operate largely unattended two-shifts out of three each day. About 25 percent of the machines in this area are themselves Haas products, most of which are devoted to smaller workpieces.
Machining of components precedes assembly by only three days. It takes roughly five days to assemble a machine and ready it for shipping. According to Peter Zierhut, Marketing Manager, the plant is currently completing over 300 machines a month but has the capacity to double that figure. The plant and attached office headquarters employs about 600.
One reason why Haas has achieved its remarkable production throughput is its adherence to standard products—no specials. Work flows through paths carefully defined for efficiency and speed. This does not mean that the company has a narrow product line. Modular construction and high number of common parts allow Haas to offer machines in many models and sizes of both machining centers and lathes while still maintaining economies of scale.
One of the newest models, still in prototype form undergoing tests and evaluation, is a traveling-column, four-axis horizontal machining center featuring travels of 38 by 33 by 30 inches in X, Y, and Z. This model, the HS-2RP, has a built-in rotary table and pallet changer that handles 500-mm square pallets for parts up to 1200 pounds. The company says its cast-iron construction and triangulated wide-stance castings, heavily ribbed for internal reinforcement, resist flex and damp vibration to provide accuracy of ±0.0002 inch and repeatability of ±0.0001 inch.
In its horizontal line, the company has also introduced a five-axis HMC. Based on its HS-1R model with 24 by 20 by 22 inch travels, the HS-1R 5AX comes standard with a 15 by 40 inch extended table, an HRT-210 (8.27-inch platter) rotary table, and full five-axis control.
Although Haas has a good start in taking on the market for HMCs, verticals are still very much its bread and butter and its line of VMCs continues to grow. Designed for machining extra-long parts such as wing spars and molds, one of the newest models is the VF-10, which features travels of 120 by 32 by 30 inches. Of broader appeal will be Haas's new automatic pallet changer for VMCs. This pallet changer works with twin 19 by 40 inch pallets with standard T-slots for workpieces up to 1000 pounds. Pallet change time is 30 seconds, chip-to-chip time is 45 seconds. The changer is a factory-installed option on VF-3 (40 by 20 by 25 inch travels) and VF-4 (50 by 20 by 25 inch travels), which are two of its most popular VMC sizes.
Perhaps the development that will attract the most comment, however, is Haas's 98-percent uptime guarantee. The idea is rather simple. If any Haas CNC machine tool purchased after April 1, 1997, experiences downtime over two percent of total operating time calculated on an annual basis due to in-warranty failure, the company will reimburse the owner $50 per hour for every hour of downtime over two percent. In short, you get a check for the time lost when the machine should have been working.
The terms of this guarantee are spelled out in detail, with rules defining all of the calculations, but the apparent intention is not to dilute the concept with fine print and loop holes. Rather, it is an attempt to express the builder's confidence in the quality of its products and to minimize the economic risk of owning one of them. Company officials believe that this guarantee is the first and only of its kind in the machine tool building industry.
Along with the new plant, Haas Automation, Inc. has a new address: 2800 Sturgis Road, Oxnard, CA 93030. Telephone is now (805) 278-1800, fax is (805) 278-2255. Online, the company can still be reached at www.HaasCNC.com for more information about the Haas product line.