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At home in the automotive industry

At home in the automotive industry

Added to MTDCNC by Blum-Novotest on 13 October 2016

For about three years, the Huron machining centre at the tool shop of Forges de Courcelles has been equipped with BLUM measuring technology. Under the constant pressure of having to optimise its production processes, the department has to reduce its cycle times continuously. Against the background of strong competition and rising demand, especially of crank shafts, the laser measuring systems and TC52 touch probes of BLUM facilitated the reduction of lead times and an increase in precision.

The Nogent area located in Haute-Marne was known for its cutlery producing industry for a long time. Another industrial sector that also originated in the middle of the 19th century has held its ground in the industrial landscape: the operation of steel mills. Also today, the operation at the Forges de Courcelles site is running at full speed. Being a subsidiary of the SIFCOR Group, the company specialises in hot pressing safety parts.

Market leader in crank shafts

The company is actually benefitting in the upturn in the automotive market, which accounts for 95% of its turnover. The remaining 5% of business is with the heavy vehicle and truck sector. “We mainly produce steering boxes, shifting forks, drive shafts, chassis components such as kingpins for cars and triangular control arms for trucks," explains Regis Varney, head of the tool shop at the site. “A large part of our production is crank shafts, the demand of which has dramatically risen ever since the introduction of direct injector diesel motors (HDI)." 

With over 470 staff, a turnover of €116.6 million and an annual tonnage of 53,600 tons, Forges de Courcelles has maintained its position as a European market leader in the production of crank shafts. Every year, 3 million are being produced. And the company that uses cutting-edge production machines is running modern machining centres to supply up to twenty dies a day for internal use.

Huron machines with Blum-Novotest measuring technology

The tool shop consists largely of horizontal machining centres with pallet changing devices that allow short production changeover times. The workshop also includes a station with three Makino A88 machining centres, each equipped with 13 pallets. In addition, the tool shop contains a robot-welding station. Endeavouring to expand its equipment and to further modernise its production resources in order to meet the rising demand, Forges de Courcelles opted for a vertical Huron K2X10 machining centre. 

This machine was supplied with a laser measuring system for tool measurement and a touch probe for workpiece measurement – both from Blum-Novotest. "We chose this solution because – considering the fact that this machine is not palletised, we had to win some time elsewhere. Thanks to Blum-Novotest, we realised the savings in the measuring time.”

Time is money

Time is always of great significance and this is where the Blum-Novotest touch probes come in. After placing the workpiece on the magnetic plate, all the user needs to do is start the measuring cycle. The touch probe measures the workpiece and acquires the workpiece zero point in record speed. “The opto-electronic measuring mechanism developed by Blum Novotest allows a significantly higher probing speed. Up to 2m/min is possible with the TC52 and this with higher accuracy than other touch probes,” explains Guillaume Thenon, former head of the French Blum-Novotest branch. 

“Together with the BLUM FormControl software, users can recognize machining errors directly in the process, which enables them to rework the part in its original clamping.”

The BLUM MicroCompact NT laser measuring system is integrated directly in the Huron machine. Thanks to the optical system, tools can be measured under working speed while the current chucking situation as well as the spindle expansion is taken into consideration. “A finishing tool will reach about 24,000rpm while a roughing tool is used only at around 2,000rpm. This difference inevitably results in a speed dependent expansion of the spindle. Thanks to the laser system, such deviations do not pose any problems for the user anymore,” explains Thenon.

Various applications are possible. Of course all functions of an optical system, such as non-contact tool setting in length and radius, shaft breakage and cutting edge monitoring, examination for chucking and concentricity errors as well as wear monitoring are available. Regis Varney continues: "With the Blum Laser Control systems, we can also check the shape of the cutting edge. This allows us to detect even miniscule errors in the cutting edge before we commence machining. We therefore increase process safety and eliminate the risk of workpieces being damaged or becoming rejects."

The Blum system is integrated in the Huron and this is something that convinced the production manager of Forges de Courcelles. This is why he already ordered a second machine with the same equipment without hesitation."


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