Sucessful MACH for Hurco leads to 26 orders
MACH 2016 proved to be an excellent show for Hurco, according to managing director, David Waghorn. He said, 'Even though the market has softened a little since we achieved record financial results in 2014, the number of visitors to our stand and orders taken this year were very similar to two years ago.
'We booked a total of 26 orders for new machines worth £2 million during the exhibition and the following week.
'The greatest interest was sparked by the number of different 5-axis configurations in our vertical machining centre range. The show provided an excellent opportunity to talk through the different advantages of each design.'
One 5-axis model, the VCX600i, was being exhibited for the first time in the UK. Built in Italy for the European market, the travelling-column machine is another example of the manufacturer’s policy of providing maximum metalcutting capacity in a compact footprint.
There was often a crowd around the VMX42SRTi, on which a facsimile of Darth Vader’s helmet which was being machined, a complex 3D shape with several undercuts and a considerable amount of fine detail. Mr Waghorn commented that this machine configuration with B-axis head and flush rotary table is proving to be the most versatile in Hurco’s 5-axis VMC range and is capable of producing an outstanding surface finish.
Among the companies to place an order on the second day of MACH 2016 was Cheltenham-based Omex Technology Systems. It designs and manufactures electronic units for racecars and high-performance road cars, ranging from simple rev limiters and shift lights to full engine management systems.
Managing director Richard Wragg purchased one of the machines on the stand, a Hurco VM20i vertical machining centre, which was delivered immediately after the show. Omex’s second VMC, it is providing extra prototyping and production capacity and allowing faster reaction times to meet demand from the firm’s growing customer base. Typical lead-times are being reduced by one-third from six weeks to four.
Mr Wragg and design engineer Paul Bate reviewed three VMCs before committing to the order. The VM20i was deemed to be a high quality machine and its significant advantage over the others was the small footprint for its 1,016 x 508 X 508 mm working envelope.
Mr Wragg commented, 'Space is at a premium in our factory, so we brought a tape measure to the show to double-check all machine dimensions against figures in the catalogues. The Hurco was by far the most space efficient of the machines that we benchmarked.'
A first step towards automation was taken by Brian McKeon, managing director of Galway subcontractor Dawnlough, who bought the Hurco VMX30UHSi 5-axis, high speed machining cell on the stand. Configured for unmanned running, the machine was equipped with an Erowa 48-pallet workpiece storage and retrieval system that will serve the new VMC and another identical model installed two years ago in the Galway factory.
The latest MAX 5 control on all Hurco machining centres has new features such as Auto Job list software to exploit unattended manufacture, whether volume production or short runs are being undertaken. Additionally, the control offers fast processing speed for 5-axis machining of complex 3D geometries.
Mr McKeon said, 'Keeping down costs to customers in the aerospace, medical and other sectors is important to retain existing business and win new contracts.
'Automation is undoubtedly the future for Dawnlough and we see the Hurco-Erowa cell purchase as the first of many flexible manufacturing cells. It will allow us to extend our double-shift operation to 24/7 running without increasing our overheads. We calculate that this particular cell will take over the work currently done by six VMCs in our factory.'
Investment Casting Systems’ two factories in Paignton are devoted to producing plastic injection moulds, wax pattern dies and tooling for carbon fibre production, mainly for the aerospace industry, which accounts for 85 per cent of turnover. MACH 2016 saw the company invest in a Hurco DCX22i twin-column, bridge-type machining centre with 2,200 mm x 1,700 mm x 750 mm travels and six tonnes table load capacity.
Two years ago, the toolmaker invested in a larger Hurco DCX32i bridge-type machine capable of carrying 11 tonnes on the table. With a working volume of 3,200 x 2,100 x 920 mm, it immediately became the largest of 10 VMCs on site.
As managing director Ted Head explained, 'Before that, our machines were limited to one metre in X, so the increase in capacity was enormous. Even so, we recently had to produce an exceptionally long, 3.7 metre component by repositioning it on the table of the DCX32i.
'One can make small components on a large machine but not vice versa, which is why we have decided to move towards Hurco’s DCX range.
'Whether it is one large mould we are producing or multiple smaller ones, there is enough work under the spindle for lights-out manufacturing throughout the night, which adds to our profitability.'
The company invested £1 million last year, part of which went to fund a 10 per cent increase in factory space. Mr Head and his son, technical director James, expect to double turnover in the next two years, such is the buoyancy of the aerospace sector.
On the last day of the show, Portsmouth-based Tuco Developments ordered its fifth Hurco machine, a VMX42SRTi 5-axis VMC. The subcontractor serves a vast range of industries and is currently working in areas as diverse as aircraft simulators and industrial cleaning machinery.
The company initially invested in Hurco machine tools in 2007, when it took delivery of a VM1 machining centre and a TM6 lathe. An additional lathe and machining centre followed shortly afterwards. The new 5-axis machine will reduce the number of set-ups needed for more complex parts, increasing productivity and accuracy.
Gerry Mathers, a partner in the business said, 'We have worked the VM1 hard since the day it arrived and we are very pleased with all of our Hurco machines.
'We use multi-axis sliding-head lathes but this will be our first 5-axis machine for prismatic metalcutting and will open up new opportunities for our business.'