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Doosan VTLs help automotive wheel manufacturer improve productivity

Doosan VTLs help automotive wheel manufacturer improve productivity

Added to MTDCNC by Mills CNC Ltd on 01 February 2013

Investment in new Doosan machine tools helps automotive wheel manufacturer improve productivity, part quality and response times.

A little over two years ago Rimstock Plc, a world-leading, vertically-integrated manufacturer of high-performance alloy wheels, had never used Doosan machine tools from Mills CNC. 
 
However, over the last 24 months the situation has changed dramatically with the company having now installed three Doosan vertical turning lathes and three Doosan vertical machining centres at its West Bromwich manufacturing facility in the West Midlands.
 
The investment in Doosan machines is described as 'brilliant news', by Nick Frampton, Mills CNC’s Managing Director, and the reasons why the six new machine tools were purchased and are now in operation, virtually around the clock, is explained by Matt Neal, Rimstock’s Marketing Director.
 
'The automotive supply chain is characterised by innovation, quality, speed and reliability of delivery and cost-competitiveness.
 
'As a progressive manufacturer in the sector with a growing number of high-profile OEM customers that includes Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, we constantly monitor our performance in all these regards and, to ensure continuous improvement, make regular and prudent investment in upgrading our plant and equipment, and our manufacturing processes and systems.'
 
In 2010, the company made a strategic decision to expand and to diversify its operations enabling it to both enter and strengthen its position in a number of growing and innovative niche markets. 
 
These included the defence and security markets where, over the last 2 years, Rimstock has been particularly successful with its Bead Lock and High Load Alloy Wheels, and the motorsport sector where the company has built on its ‘Team Dynamics’ brand heritage to supply high-performance cast and forged race wheels to many national and international race teams and race car constructors. (In 2010 the company secured a three year contract to supply forged race wheels for the Australian V8 Supercar Championship).
 
As an integral part of its repositioning strategy Rimstock also strengthened its forged aluminium alloy wheel manufacturing capacity and capabilities.
 
Continues Matt Neal:
 
'Modern car designers and manufacturers are constantly looking to minimise wheel weight (and therefore the un-sprung weight of vehicles), of performance cars, whilst maintaining strength and durability.
 
'Reducing weight has a dramatic impact on car dynamics and performance. With forged aluminium weight savings approaching 30% can be achieved (over traditional cast alloy wheels), and the wheel produced is stronger and stiffer, and improves acceleration, handling and braking performance.'
 
In order to expand its forged alloy wheel production Rimstock undertook a thorough examination and appraisal of its existing manufacturing capabilities, the results of which helped spearhead the decision to invest in new Doosan machine tools.
 
Doosan vertical lathe investment
 
Rimstock’s decision to invest in its first Doosan vertical lathe is explained by Matt Neal.
 
'We could have attempted to ramp-up production by investing in horizontal lathes but could see that vertical lathes, using gravity loading, were better suited to the machining of large, awkward shaped parts made from tough materials like forged aluminium alloys. We were also convinced that vertical turning would deliver long-term savings (reductions in set-up and cycle times, and dramatic increases in tool life), and improved performance (higher accuracies and repeatability’s, improved surface finishes etc.). And this has proved to be the case.
 
'We approached a number of machine tool manufacturers with our ideas and plans and, following extensive machining trials, selected Mills CNC and the Doosan VT 750 for a number of reasons.'
 
These included the performance and pedigree of the VT 750 machine and of Doosan’s vertical turning technologies in general, the price and availability of the machine, and the support and after-sales service provided by Mills CNC. 
 
The first Doosan VT 750, equipped with a powerful, high torque 30kW 2,000rpm spindle and 15 inch chuck capacity was installed at Rimstock’s manufacturing facility in early 2011. 
 
Since its installation the company has fine-tuned the machine’s operation and improved its performance through the in-house design and manufacture of ingenious ‘modular’ jig and fixture systems to cope with the different wheel diameters and wheel designs manufactured.
 
The be-spoke work-holding has enabled Rimstock to increase its productivity and reduce part cycle times, so that  parts are able to be finished on the VT 750 in  just one set-up and two machining operations using a external profiling tools and boring bars. (Previously the parts required two set-ups).
 
The performance of the first VT 750 has led to further investment in two more vertical turning lathes, and three Doosan DNM 650 vertical machining centres.
 
The large capacity Doosan DNM 650 machines, equipped with 15kW 12,000rpm spindles, have been retro-fitted with rotary axis tables and provide Rimstock with full 5-axis machining capability.
 
The machines are used for roughing and finishing forged- and cast-alloy wheels, and cycle times, especially where the engraving of fine details is required, can be long (up to 10 hours). 
 
'But', says Matt Neal, 'the machines are reliable performers and haven’t missed a beat.'
 
Since 2010 Rimstock has successfully diversified its operations, grown its export business and has increased manufacturing output to 5000 cast-alloy and 500 forged-alloy wheels per week. 
 
The new Doosan machines, along with other investments and upgrades made to its manufacturing capacity and capabilities, have put Rimstock on a much stronger footing and better able to face the future with confidence.
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