We have recently taken delivery of our latest new machining centre. The new Okuma horizontal mill braved a two month sea voyage from Japan and the trauma of the dockyard, only to be held up here in Dawlish by the glorious Devon weather! Torrential rain and high winds meant that the machine had to remain safely tucked up on its trailer for a day. This being the largest machine we have ever purchased, the doorway was the next problem and we all held our breath as it was hoisted off the lorry outside our office windows!
The new horizontal mill will utilise a massive revolving fixture, meaning that 16 raw castings can be machined in one load. This compares to standard vertical machining centres where there is space for only one or two components affixed to the base plate.
The new Okuma is also an immensely powerful machine with 60m/min rapids, 15,000 RPM and 70 bar high pressure coolant which will enable us to reduce our cutting time and thereby increase our output by 20% compared to our current machines. The useful ‘turn cut function’ even allows machining of what would normally be turned features by synchronising the rotating tool edge with the x-y coordinate arc. Another useful and literally cutting edge function is ‘machining Navi’ which is a function that captures vibration via a microphone then optimises the cutting conditions to eliminate any chatter. It doesn’t stop there either. The new mill comes with a 10 pallet pool, allowing pre-prepared pallets to be loaded automatically outside normal working hours.
The tool carousel carries 218 tools, meaning that down time for set up becomes a thing of the past and programming the machine will be carried out using virtual software, whilst the machine continues to run other jobs.
Preparations for receiving the new machine have been extensive. They have included an extension to the factory, sorting out our power supply and digging out the machine shop floor to a depth of 500 mm before beefing it up with re-enforced concrete! Special fixtures for the machine have also had to be designed and manufactured and programs written using the virtual software. These have been tested successfully by a company in Derbyshire on an identical machine.
Such machines as this Okuma and our sliding head Citizen lathes will be the way forward for our Company, improving productivity and reducing costs, enabling us to compete with competition from abroad. As we machine more than 90% of our own components for our Hy-Pro valves and Hy-ProDrive pumps, we will continue to invest in new machinery each year, ensuring continuity of supply, quality and cost.