FAST DELIVERY OF TWO MILL-TURN CENTRES TO ASSIST MEDICAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURE
During the pandemic, with the help of machining centres from DMG MORI (www.dmgmori.com), the German firm Franke GmbH (www.franke-gmbh.com) is meeting the challenge of soaring demand for the urgent supply of system components for medical equipment such as computed tomography (CT) scanners.
In 1936, Erich Franke developed the wire race bearing, which he described as a “ball bearing with exceedingly low space requirements that satisfies the highest demands for the precision of movement of one body in relation to another.”
However it was not until 1949 that Franke GmbH was established in Aalen, Germany, to manufacture the wire race bearings. This is ongoing, but the company with its 280 staff now also develops and manufactures lightweight rotational and linear movement systems, with or without drive.
They are used in applications as diverse as CT scanners, robotic automation, motorsport, satellite antenna rotation, solar panel positioning, water jet cutting, dental X-ray equipment and food packaging. Unsurprisingly, the first quarter of 2020 saw an increase in sales of components to the medical sector from 35 percent to more than 40 percent of turnover.
To meet the high quality that users demand, Franke relies for its production on six machining centres with turning capability from DMG MORI, including some with twin pallet change and an accuracy pack. A special focus in the spring of 2020 is on the imminent delivery of two more DMC 125 FD duoBLOCK mill-turn centres with 1,250 x 1,250 x 1,000 mm working volume as the global spread of the COVID-19 virus continues to intensify demand from the medical sector.
High-end special bearings with integrated drives for CT scanners, bearings for ceiling lights in intensive care units and special bearings for medical centrifuges and laboratory equipment are just a few examples of the components Franke produces for renowned manufacturers in the medical industry.
Sascha Eberhard, managing director of Franke explained, “We are being presented with a challenge during the pandemic of ensuring uninterrupted supply of our products to vital industries while at the same time diligently implementing social distancing and other protective measures in our factory.
“We have responded with two effective measures: strict separation of production shifts and a reduction in administrative staff present on site by means of home working.”
Franke has been helped in this change in its working practices due to its long-standing philosophy of investing in automation and digitalisation. Mr Eberhard points out that the company has eight current digitalisation projects in support of the development and manufacture of customers’ special machines.
The company has used machining centres from DMG MORI since 2008 to ensure flexibility of production. Depending on the type of product, batch sizes are between 1 and 1,000 pieces per project. Workpiece materials range from diverse types of wire through aluminium, brass and cast steel to plastics and carbon fibre.
Mr Eberhard continued, “The demands on production in this challenging sector are enormous. Our special bearings combine complex system components with sophisticated housing designs, seals and integrated direct drives. Their production requires highly accurate milling, drilling and turning.”
Oliver Schröder, head of purchasing and material management added, “The DMG MORI duoBLOCK models in particular play a key role in our manufacturing. Milling and turning in a single set-up combined with automatic pallet change offers us the ideal package for machining highly complex bearing components from 300 mm up to two metres in diameter. Accuracy is to within microns.”
One of the two recently-ordered DMC 125 FD duoBLOCK machines will be equipped with the DMG MORI technology cycle gearSKIVING to enable in-house production of straight and helical external and internal spur gears using skiving tools, reducing both cost and throughput times.
That Franke has managed to win new customers in the medical industry in recent years, especially in the field of CT, and is able to satisfy the high demand in this sector has greatly contributed to the development of the business. It has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in the workforce, while with its 23 trainees, Franke is actively ensuring sufficient trained professionals for the future.