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Jemtech supports machining growth at VSMPO Tirus Ltd
Jemtech supports machining growth at VSMPO Tirus Ltd
Jemtech supports machining growth at VSMPO Tirus Ltd

Jemtech supports machining growth at VSMPO Tirus Ltd

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 23 September 2013

As the world's leading manufacturer of titanium sponge, ingot and semi-finished titanium alloy products VSMPO Tirus Ltd. has become deeply involved with the aerospace sector and the growth in demand for its products has grown significantly in recent years, with 70 per cent of its production being exported from its production facility in the Ural Mountains of Russia.

The UK, as a major participant in the global aerospace market has been a major recipient of these exports and the Redditch-based UK subsidiary of VSMPO – AVISMA Corp contributes 99 per cent of its turnover to the aerospace sector, with the remaining 1 per cent being split between the defence, medical and oil & gas sectors. With the logistics of transporting titanium from the manufacturing base to the UK, with transport by road taking up to 14 days, the VSMPO Tirus facility in the UK was set up some seventeen years ago to provide warehousing and stock management (up to three months of stock is held) for major customers such as Rolls Rolls-Royce and Airbus to call off as and when required. The amount of material that it keeps on stock for these customers has grown by an incredible 900 per cent over the past seven years.

As a stockholder it already has several customer approvals and works to the international standards of  AS9100, AS9120, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, which all apply to the existing services that it provides, which to not only its stockholding business, but also the added value services that it provides to customers. These added value services initially covered sawing and profiling of titanium on behalf of customers, with six Kasto bandsaws providing a billeting facility, a Flow WMC dual-head waterjet machine that can profile two 2m x1m titanium plates simultaneously to tight tolerances and at high speed as well as shearing of thin titanium sheet (0.5mm to 4mm thickness) using a Bystronic VR6 cutting shear.

While sawing and waterjet have been in place at the Redditch facility for several years it was only in the last 12 months that VSMPO Tirus expanded these added value services with the addition of a Hurco VMX 50T vertical machining centre. This machine is being used for first machining operations such as stock removal and the machining of fixture location faces and threaded holes for clamping purposes. The demand for this type of work from VSMPO Tirus’ customers is such that a second machine, A Doosan Vertical machining centre, with increased table capacity has been ordered for delivery later in 2013.

'The ability to add value to the material that we are already selling is a positive step for VSMPO Tirus and its customers and we have received extremely positive fed back from customers who are welcoming our investment in machining capacity for first stage machining,' says Ian Perks, Operations Director, VSMPO Tirus Ltd. 'By offering this service of stock removal, and machining fixturing points we are able to save time for our customers and free up their machining capacity for more precise machining operations. This new facility is certainly generating lots of interest from existing and potential customers.'

With machining being a relatively new departure for VSMPO Tirus at Redditch, the company established a manufacturing facility in a separate unit, away from the main stockholding warehouse. Key to the success of the machining was the correct selection of equipment such as cutting tools, and metalworking fluids, which is Operations Manager, Colin Whitehouse’s area of expertise. However, in selecting the metalworking fluid, the influence and experience of the parent company had an influence on the choice of Blaser Swisslube for its cutting fluids. 'I have to admit that 12 months ago I knew very little about Blaser or Jemtech, the UK distributor, but I discovered that our parent company, which is a big user of Blaser products in its manufacturing plant in Russia, was sponsoring an aerospace seminar at Blaser’s Switzerland headquarters. ' Myself and Ian Perks, our Operations Director, travelled to Switzerland to get some more information about the coolant and the company,' says Colin Whitehouse.

While at the seminar Colin and Ian spoke to Jemtech and after seeing the manufacturing facility and the high levels of customer care that both Jemtech (UK) and Blaser provided was convinced to trial Blaser Vasco 7000, which is a vegetable ester oil-based, micro emulsion, Vasco 7000 extremely high performance metal cutting fluid specifically targeting what are seen as difficult to machine materials, including titanium and nickel-based alloys.

The fact that VSMPO Tirus machine nothing but titanium made Vasco 7000 the obvious choice for their new machining activities, as it was specifically developed for ‘difficult to machine’ materials, such as titanium. The result is that it consistently delivers increased tool life, longer sump life, reduced fluid cost and as VSMPO Tirus are finding, helps to reduce overall manufacturing costs in machining applications where these materials are involved. Of particular interest to those machining critical components, such as in the aerospace and medical sectors, is the excellent rinsing behaviour of Vasco 7000. This ensures that components and machine tools are relatively clean after use and reduces the quality concerns of components that become streaked from residual cutting fluids.

'One of the factors in choosing Jemtech and Blaser was the customer service element of their businesses and we experienced this early on, after we had swapped the coolant over from our previous supplier without making any changes to the machining parameters. The result was that, initially, we didn’t see any major improvements in terms of tool life,' says Colin Whitehouse, 'A quick phone call to Darren Clarke, Jemtech’s salesman, resulted in a visit and a suggestion to increase cutting data by around 10 per cent. As a result of these changes tool life increase by typically 10 per cent across the range of cutters that we are using and cycle times improved by 12 per cent on average across the 11 different titanium forgings that we currently machine. Tool life and cycle time are only part of the equation though, and we had a good response from the machine operators who, using ‘engineers intuition’ gave the Blaser product a thumbs up, saying it was much more pleasant to work with in terms of odour and ‘it just felt right’.'

This engineer’s intuition is backed up by science, with Vasco 7000’s composition excluding the use of Chlorine, Boron, Formaldehyde and Zinc, making it safe for operators, components and machine tools. The amount of topping up required in order to maintain the correct concentration is also reduced, with top ups being done at 1 per cent concentrations compared to the more typical 4 per cent. This makes Vasco 7000 highly economical to use and also reduces any environmental impact as fluid waste is greatly reduced, which sits squarely with the ISO 14001 accreditation of VSMPO Tirus.

'It is a superb opportunity to work alongside a company of the stature of VSMPO Tirus as it embarks on a new project such as this. They have shown great ambition to develop this machining side of their business, and the fact that they can see the benefits of working with Jemtech and Blaser Swisslube at such an early stage will hopefully allow them to expand their machining facility in the confidence that they have the reassurance that their metalworking fluids are helping them to achieve optimum performance from their machine tools and cutting tools,' says Steve Coull, Managing Director, Jemtech (UK)

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