Industrias Romi is Brazil’s largest machine tool builder. It highlighted its large-part machining capability at the 2011 Feimafe show with its 130T horizontal boring mill for parts such as wind turbine hubs and Centur 60 CNC turning center suited for oil-field components.
I’m heading to Brazil the first week of June to attend the 14th edition of the Feimafe trade show in Sao Paulo, which will be the third time I’ve attended this show. While I do enjoy traveling there, the time change—or lack thereof—still seems odd. After flying for 10 or so hours to Sao Paulo, I lose just one hour heading essentially due South down and across the equator.
In this report about the 2011 show, I noted that the Brazilian machine tool builders say they continue to eye foreign markets such as the United States. At that time, though, Brazil’s strong currency (called real) made it tough for them to compete abroad. However, the Brazilian real has since weakened compared to the U.S. dollar, so that could open up greater export opportunities for them as I intend to find out when I visit.
This slideshow from the 2011 edition gives you an idea of the type of equipment commonly highlighted at the show. The 2013 edition is expected to attract 70,000 attendees and feature 1,300 national and international exhibitors and 85,000 square meters of exhibition area. I’ll report back what I learn in a future blog post.
Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council under the President, gives this 60-second explanation of the importance of manufacturing and the value of the new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. Mr. Sperling says manufacturing “punches above its weight” in terms of the jobs and innovation it produces. He says the manufacturing innovation hubs will bring together businesses and universities for cooperative investment and research that neither side would do alone. The first such institute is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute recently opened in Youngstown, Ohio.
With a reading of 48.5, the MBI showed that the metalworking industry contracted slightly in April after growing in March. Since the noticeable contraction in the second half of 2012, the industry has been virtually flat.
The real story through the first four months of 2013 is the diverging performance across plant sizes. Facilities with more than 50 employees have grown in every month. Those with fewer than 50 employees have continued to contract, however, and facilities with fewer than 19 employees continue to contract at the same rate they did in the second half of 2012. Primarily, it is small job shops that pulled the index back below 50.0 in April. Shops dedicated to specific industries are showing much better performance in the first four months of this year.
New orders contracted for the first time since December 2012, and this was the most significant reason the index moved below 50.0. Production, however, continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than in March. These subindices contributed to the faster contraction in backlogs, but there is likely also some over-capacity in the metalworking industry. This would further explain why backlogs have contracted since April 2012 and why smaller job shops are performing worse than shops dedicated to specific industries. Employment continued to grow in April, while exports continued to contract. Supplier deliveries continued to lengthen, but at almost the slowest rate since August 2011.
Material prices are still growing, but at a much slower rate than the previous two months. Prices received were virtually flat. The combination of these two trends, contracting new orders and growing employment continues to put pressure on profits at metalworking facilities. Future business expectations dropped in April, but they are still above almost every month since July 2012.
One demo involved machining of a cast iron engine block, shown here in the pallet station of the Makino A81 HMC. Demonstrated processes included closed-loop boring and finish-honing operations.
As the North American automotive industry moves from recession to recovery, manufacturers are contending with not only increased volumes, but also increasingly compressed lead times, a range of new product designs and more stringent quality-control requirements. “Automotive and Part Production Day,” a May 8 event at Makino’s headquarters facility in Mason, Ohio, revealed steps the machine tool builder has taken to keep itself—and by extension, its customers—ahead of these trends.
North American light-duty vehicle production moved from 8.6 to 15.4 million between 2011 and 2012 and is expected to continue to increase, a result of reshoring, OEMs moving to global platforms, and increasing quality standards, among other forces. Equipment demand has followed suit, and Makino has increased inventories to ensure quick deliveries of production resources suited for the smaller, lighter components used in today’s increasingly efficient engine designs. Chief among such equipment is horizontal machining centers with 400- to 500-mm pallets, such as the company’s a51nx and a61nx models, of which it sold more than 300 last year.
Likewise, the company is boosting stocks of automation accessories that it deems critical to extract the most efficiency from these machines. Specific examples include robot interfaces, continuous pressure hydraulic fixture control, automatic stacker doors, tool-break detection functions, machine monitoring software and more.
The company has also ramped up its service and support offerings by increasing regional staffing of field service engineers and applications specialists. This is especially critical in an era when automotive suppliers depend on automated production systems that are tailor-made to fit their specific needs. It also marks a departure from the model in place about a decade ago, when most support functions were handled directly from the Mason office.
Click here for more specific information on the various Makino technology and support offerings that were the focus of presentations and product demos throughout the day.
I recently attended the opening day of DMG/Mori Seiki USA’s ninth Innovation Days event at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. This year’s event featured 45 machines—five of which were being introduced to the U.S. market—located in industry-specific areas seen by more than 3,200 attendees from 10 countries. Attendance was up 45 percent compared to last year’s event.
The new machines being introduced to the U.S. market included the five-axis DMC 85 monoblock and Vertical Mate 125 multi-process grinding machine shown below as well as the NVX7000/50 with large X-axis travel and NLX1500SY/500 and NLX2000SY/700 turning centers featuring the company’s Built In Motor Turret (BMT).
This DMC 85 monoblock at the event featured an automatic pallet changer that takes up less than 43 sq. ft. of floor space. The company’s Vertical Mate 125 is said to offer a simple, sturdy structure and affordable price enabling users to perform ID/OD and face grinding in one setup.
The event also highlighted the InvoMilling process developed in conjunction with Sandvik. An alternative to grinding, InvoMilling is a machining technique that enables fast, efficient production of spur and helical gears in multitasking machines and machining centers. The event also featured the “disruptive technology” demonstration shown below whereby in-process shaft hardening was performed on an NT4200 DCG turn-mill. The machine used a special high-rpm grinding process to generate the level of friction needed for localized heat treatment of specific part features.
One of the many event presentations highlighted the company’s C-frame MillTap 700, which the company says is a more robust alternative to conventional cross-table drill/tap machines. The MillTap 700 is said to offer more powerful milling capabilities and a larger table in a smaller overall footprint. Each day’s presentations focused on a specific industry—specifically, automotive, aerospace and gear production—while the fourth day welcomed 200 students for special programs and tours.
This demonstration showed how automation could be added to the MillTap 700 with dust evacuation for machining components made of graphite and other similar materials.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was also on hand to present DMG/Mori Seiki University (DMSU) with its official accreditation for its CNC machining and maintenance training programs. The company says it is the only machine tool builder to receive this NIMS accreditation. Through a balance of on-site, web-based and classroom training formats, DMSU has established itself as a leading resource helping to transform entry-level machinists into the highly skilled experts that the industry demands. “We at DMG/ Mori Seiki USA not only pride ourselves on our machine tool technology, but also that we help our customers make the most of it through solid support and education,” says Rod Jones, DMSU’s chief learning officer who led the accreditation process. “We’re delighted to have received the NIMS accreditation because it proves our dedication to going beyond being a machine-tool builder to a respected industry educator.”