Hurco take 27 orders valued at nearly Â£2 million at MACH
This year’s MACH show in Birmingham was the most successful ever for Hurco, which logged a 10 per cent increase in visitors to its stand compared with last time. During the exhibition and the following week, 27 orders were taken valued at nearly £2 million, 70 per cent up on 2012, which itself was a record year for the company.
Demonstrations of a third-generation, vertical-spindle machining centre, the VM10i, attracted the most attention. It has longer travels and faster rapids than earlier models, a 10,000 rpm spindle and Ultimotion high-speed profiling software as standard. Noteworthy was the helical pocketing demonstration in steel, which showed the exceptional speed and rigidity of the machine.
David Waghorn, Managing Director, commented, 'Machinists were able to make a direct comparison at the show between this model and other low-cost, entry-level machines.
'It resulted in orders on the stand. In many cases, the customer had come to the show expecting to buy an alternative brand.'
The VMX42SRTi 5-axis machining centre with B-axis spindle also created a stir. It is a redesign of a popular Hurco model with a flush-mounted table, allowing easy transfer between 3-axis and 5-axis work with no loss in capacity. A complex, 5-sided engine block was machined using a cycle comprising merged conversational and NC programming routines.
Other highlights on the 240 m2 stand were a VMX30Ui 5-axis trunnion machine; a VMX24HSi, the latest high-speed machine with 18,000 rpm / HSK63A / 35 kW spindle; a DCX22i dual-column machining centre with 2.2 x 1.7 x 0.75 metre travels and six tonnes table load capacity; two models from Hurco’s CNC lathe range, one with driven tooling in its 12-station VDI turret; and a German-built RXP500 high precision, 3-axis, high-speed machining centre from the Roeders agency range.
Some of the customers that placed orders at the show
Steve Hayes, chairman and joint owner of two engineering firms in the West Midlands and Gloucestershire, was first to order a Hurco machine at MACH – a VM30Mi 3-axis machining centre, which will be delivered to SRS Precision Engineering, Stourbridge. Nearly three-quarters of the company’s turnover comes from press tool manufacture for first-tier suppliers serving automotive OEMs, such as JLR, Honda and BMW.
SRS already operates six Hurco machining centres, including a bridge-type DCX22i, and a VMX64Ti and VM20i that were installed on the first day of the show. Dursley-based sister company TJW Precision Engineering, an aerospace subcontract machining specialist and a tier 1 supplier to Airbus, operates a similar number.
Mr Hayes said, 'We have used Hurco machines for 15 years at TJW and find them to be cost-effective, high quality and reliable, and the after sales service is good.
'Standardising on the same supplier for most of our prismatic machining capacity has the benefit that we are able to swap jobs between machines and even between our group companies.
'Hurco’s control software is another plus. We program either on the shop floor or at a WinMax offline station, which supports our Vero CAD/CAM system reserved for programming more complex work.'
Plastic packaging for the food industry is the specialism of Leeways Packaging Services, which was established over half a century ago in Gloucester.
The company supplies such well-known high street names as Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer, as well as third party packers. Manufacture of the aluminium tooling has historically been outsourced, but the firm started to bring it in-house last August with the purchase of a Hurco VM20i machining centre. The incentives were to reduce costs, shorten lead-times and make the company more competitive. A prototype tool, for example, can now be produced in 24 hours rather than two to three days.
At the time, technical director Lee Walding reviewed several potential suppliers of 3-axis machining centres. The Hurco was chosen due to its suitability for toolmaking, specifically its robust construction and the versatility of the manufacturer’s WinMax control software. Additionally, the company’s technical development manager, Anthony Marshall, had experience of working successfully with Hurco machines at a previous company supplying subcontract services, including to Leeways.
The first machining centre at Gloucester brought about five per cent of tooling manufacture in-house. The second, larger machine ordered at MACH, a VMX42Mi, will raise the proportion to one-quarter and the aim is for Leeways to produce half of all its tooling within a few years.
HB Bearings was formed in 1972 by Norman Hirst, the current chairman, as a manufacturer of special precision bearings and accessories for the motorsport industry, although other sectors are also supplied, including the machine tool industry, mining, quarrying, oil and gas, textile machinery and rolling mills.
MACH 2014 marked the Huddersfield company’s entry into 5-axis machining with the purchase of a Hurco VMX30Ui machining centre, which will complement six 4-axis models on the shop floor.
Graham Hirst, the company’s managing director, explained, 'Our customers rely on us to supply them with bearings in very short lead-times. By reducing, say, four operations to two on the 5-axis machine, we will be able to respond even more quickly and also control manufacturing costs better.
'Some products we make are too complex to machine on 4-axis plant, so until now we have had to produce them by hand. The 5-axis capability will enable full interpolation of difficult features as well as rapid rotary positioning for 3- and 4-axis cycles.'
Due to the type of work being processed, with complex surface features alongside more straightforward parts of the bearing assemblies, the Conversational NC Merge feature within Hurco’s WinMax programming software will prove useful. It allows elements of a cycle prepared in an offline CAD/CAM system to be exported as a DXF file and combined with code generated at the machine control using the WinMax menu system.
It was this flexibility of programming, and the ability to see the program being built up graphically in real time on a second control screen, that ultimately decided the Hirsts in favour of a Hurco 5-axis machine.
Si-Can was established in Worcester in 1992 as a subcontract toolroom for large food packaging companies, later branching out into providing support for local fabricators and for key suppliers to the automotive and aerospace industries. Various materials from steels to aluminium and engineering plastics are CNC milled and turned to suit customers’ requirements.
Simon Griffiths, a director of the company, was at MACH together with general manager, Robert Lamb, to order a Hurco VM30i 3-axis machining centre. Si-Can installed its first VMC with toolchanger three years ago, choosing a smaller Hurco VM10 at the time owing to the rigid and more reliable linear guideway design of the machine.
Another factor was the easy shop floor programming, which accounts for about a quarter of cutting cycle creation at Worcester, and the ability of the WinMax software to directly accept programs produced in Si-Can’s CAD/CAM system.
In the meantime, last year the company bought a TM8 lathe from the same manufacturer to boost CNC turning capability. Mr Griffiths said, 'In our opinion, Hurco machines are the right products at the right price, and they have a small footprint for their capacity.'