Hi-Force now has 12 DMG MORI machines after installing a new SL-603 heavy duty turning centre for machining hydraulic cylinders of up to 1000 tonnes lifting capacity. A remarkable success story, Hi-Force has increased its turnover by 20% year on year, supplying a wide range of hydraulic tools around the world from its Daventry, Northants headquarters. Hi-Force range of high pressure hydraulic bolting and lifting products is used every day in the oil and gas, power generation, railway, construction, heavy engineering and shipbuilding industries and is designed to apply controlled loads in heavy jacking applications and leak free flange connections using hydraulic power for controlled bolting.
The first DMG MORI investment in 2009 moved manufacturing of subcontracted parts in-house, to provide control, reduced costs and shorter delivery times. The latest investment in the SL-603 opened the door for competitive manufacturing of component parts for large capacity and special design cylinders, which were previously being subcontracted. Kevin Brown, Group Managing Director says, “For very large machined parts, we needed to achieve much shorter delivery times and cost reductions. Subcontracting is and will remain an integral part of our manufacturing supply chain but, the type of equipment necessary to economically and quickly machine these large cylinder components was not always available, resulting in high manufacturing cost and long lead times.” Hi-Force worked closely with DMG MORI to arrive at a specification of machine which would be powerful and big enough for its plans. “Our experience with DMG MORI has been excellent, and we had absolute faith in the solution it proposed. We allocated two of our best machine setter/programmers to the project, and they went to Japan to see the SL-603 under construction and to undergo comprehensive operational training.”
The decision to invest has proved to be a wise one, as in the fourteen months since its installation, Hi-Force has seen a surge in orders for large cylinders, notably a USA $2 million order for a Middle Eastern metro project for 146 off 500 ton cylinders and 26 off 1000 ton cylinders, which means that 85% of the production capacity of the SL-603 was allocated, between March & June 2015. The design of these cylinders required the SL-603 to remove large amounts of material, quickly and accurately, starting with a solid steel billet weighing 1400 Kgs, that required the machining of a “blind hole” bore in the centre of the billet. The finished and fully machined cylinder body weighed only 800 Kgs and this major machining operation to remove approximately 600 Kgs of material was achieved in less than 4.5 hours per piece.
|Completed 500 ton cylinders||1000 ton cylinder after first op.|
The SL-603 has a 37kW spindle and driven tools. The first operation is to bore out the cylinder and for this, Hi-Force uses a Kennametal HTS 220mm diameter drill straight into the billet to make the first cut. Chris Dickinson, Operations Director says, “The capacity of this drill and the power required to drive it, would stall the spindles, on our existing DMG MORI NL turning centres and seeing a drill remove 220mm diameter of material in its first cut is very impressive. We also use Sandvik Coromant tuned boring bars which enable us to take 3.5mm depths of cut 700mm deep with no vibration. Even more amazing, we then drill a 2mm diameter bleed hole through the 70 mm thick side wall of the cylinder. The SL-603 has the power for massive metal removal rates yet it also has the accuracy and stability to drill the smallest of holes.”
Boring bars in the SL-603
To maximise productivity and flexibility, Hi-Force uses Capto tooling which enables it to switch tools in the turret with just one easy fix and release screw. Load monitoring for tool wear and tool probing ensure that sister tools can be switched over in plenty of time. Tips can then be replaced or turned while the machine is running further minimising expensive downtime. Chris Dickinson adds, “As part of the commissioning of the machine DMG MORI worked with us to develop our machining processes, helping us to build up our confidence when using a machine with this much power.”
To complete the manufacturing cell for these large cylinders, Hi-Force also invested in a Delapena cylinder bore honing machine. Located right next to the SL-603, the machined parts can be craned straight into the Delapena honing machine, which has the capacity to hone bores up to 600mm diameter.
Thanks to the SL-603, Hi-Force is able to extend the range of sizes in its cylinder catalogue and also offer a special cylinder design and manufacturing service. Now it can achieve delivery times of as little as four weeks for large and special cylinders for its customers located in over 100 different countries. Currently Hi-Force has regional offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa and is opening a second European office in Milan in June 2014, to work alongside the existing office based close to Rotterdam in Holland. Expansion plans include expanding the Asian facility and introducing local training at all Hi-Force regional offices worldwide.
Kevin Brown concludes, “We have massive confidence in the DMG MORI product and after sales service and will always look at DMG MORI first. The growth in our business is testament to the success of our investment strategy, enabling us to deliver customer satisfaction and continuity of supply.” Following a DMG MORI sponsored Porsche endurance event, Kevin Brown commented, “As a Porsche driver, I would rather buy a DMG MORI than a Porsche as it earns money, not costs money – in fact the DMG MORI machines are the workhorses that pay for the Porsche!”
|220 mm drill||1000 ton cylinder in the SL-603|