Refurbishing machines after being a Tornos Customer 100 years
For several months, Tornos has been offering a complete overhaul service for its Deco machines. It’s an interesting alternative for those who don’t want to invest in a new machine tool. One of the first customers to undertake an extensive overhaul project and reap the rewards was the Laubscher company in Switzerland.
Founded in 1846, Laubscher Präzision AG is now the largest independent bar turning company in Switzerland, with over 500 production machines. The company has 240 employees and produces over 2 million workpieces per day. With a machine inventory of this size, maintenance and service are critical. Every year, the company invests in new CNC production equipment, as well as overhauling its cam-type machines Laubscher and Tornos have been working together almost since Tornos was formed over a 100 years ago and so, in 1996, it was the natural choice for Laubscher to purchase the new Deco machines. Early on, it acquired 10 of the very first Deco machines and whilst the machines have aged very well, having clocked up over 60,000 hours, the time eventually came to address the issue of their replacement. Commenting upon the company's situation Mr Manfred Laubscher, the Technical Director at Laubscher says ’’It’s an important decision as it concerns the replacement of ten Deco 10 machines. We took our time to really think about it, because the machine is only the tip of the iceberg, all of the equipment, tooling, presetting systems and even the training (in particular the programming) are additional factors, and if you replace a machine, you are starting from scratch.’’
The original or nothing
The analyses carried out by Mr. Laubscher and his team led to a number of possible solutions. This was to either purchase new machines or have the existing ones overhauled by Tornos, but not by a third party. When asked about this possibility, Mr Laubscher explains: ‘’There are several companies that offer an overhaul service, and in the past we have had some bad experiences with the cam-type machines due to service providers using parts from non-guaranteed sources, which adversely affected the overhauls. From that point, we were very clear. In terms of overhauling the Deco's, it would be the original or nothing.’’
Expertise, original parts, comprehensive knowledge
The company contacted Tornos and Mr. Aebi, the Tornos service manager, to analyse the options. Whilst complete overhauling is not a standard Tornos option, the Laubscher scenario is helping Tornos to clarify the methods and the offer.’’The advantage is that the Tornos technicians have perfect knowledge of the Deco machines, and we can quickly reach agreement, particularly in terms of not replacing the numerical control,’’ reveals Mr. Laubscher.
In fact, replacing the NC involves redesigning the machine, and doesn’t make financial sense. According to Mr. Laubscher, the control’s calculation speed parameter is not all that important for Deco machines, and an 'old control' is still valid. On the other hand, it is obviously very important that the NC spare parts continue to be available. The company contacted Fanuc, who agreed to supply the parts for several years. According to Mr. Aebi, Fanuc has guaranteed the supply until 2023. The order was finally placed for an overhaul of an initial test machine.
An overhaul with visible results
The machine is completely dismantled and all wear parts, ballscrews, slides, cables and motors are replaced. Everything is cleaned and the casing is repainted. The SBF bar feeder also undergoes the same process. The collaboration between the two companies is intense, and has also led to the Deco 10 being equipped with cyclical central lubrication. Mr. Aebi explains ‘’We wanted this system to be perfectly integrated and managed by the machine’s numerical control ‘’A solution to this apparent incompatibility was found by Tornos engineers. Once the machine has been overhauled, completely repainted and labeled, a 'new' machine is delivered to the customer.
‘’We wanted machines delivered as new and with a warranty on parts and any operations carried out,” adds Mr. Laubscher. The first machine underwent a complete overhaul, including the replacement of all motors, and this operation took no more than 5 weeks, much to the surprise of the customer, who took speedy delivery of an 'as new' machine. Once reinstalled at the customer’s premises, the Deco 10 immediately resumed its normal production rate (24 hours a day, 6 days a week). After a few weeks of operation, Laubscher was satisfied with the work done and placed an order for the rest of its machine inventory to be overhauled.
After a year, the company had five of its Deco machines overhauled and was completely satisfied with the results. No after-sales operations were necessary following the overhauls. Five machines still require an overhaul, and the schedule for this depends largely on the possibility of interrupting production to shut down the machines for five weeks.
During the discussion on overhauling, Mr. Laubscher tells us: ‘’The machine’s appearance is also very important. A nice, clean machine is a source of motivation and satisfaction for our employees. Stepping into the Tauffelen workshop, the difference hits you immediately, the Deco machines over-hauled in Moutier look like they’ve been directly imported from 1996-1997.’’