Melbourne – For years, advocates for manufacturing have worked hard to counter the prevailing impression that all workshops and factories are dimly lit, dirty and dangerous places. Of course, today most workshops rather resemble art studios rather than the picture painted above – and visiting all the major machine tool dealers’ stands at this year’s AUSTECH exhibition in Melbourne shows that manufacturing is poised for a yet more attractive makeover.
Machine tools’ appearance and functionality are being modelled after digital devices such as smart phones or tablets that enable everyday communication and connectivity.
Take Mazak’s new Mazatrol SmoothX CNC or DMG Mori’s Celos. The former is said to work four times faster than its fastest predecessors. A 19’’ panel with a multi-touch home screen presents all critical data to operators within a single page view. As John Hart’s Mark Dobrich explains, the controller also reduces machining time by maintaining optimal acceleration/deceleration control for a combination of axes and smooth corner control reduces vibration and shortens part-machining cycles.
DMG Mori’s Celos looks like a stylish digital device from the future. It provides a uniform user interface for all new high-tech machines from DMG Mori. A unique 21.5” multi-touch screen displays all Celos Apps, which provide the user with integrated management, documentation and visualisation of order, process and machine data. Additionally, machine operation is simplified, standardised and automated, DMG Mori claims.
Simplifying automation is another topic at the show. John Hart is showcasing an automated machine tending cell. There are of course many benefits of automation such as reduced costs, lower health and safety risks and increased production quality. However, as Mark Dobrich points out, many people are scared of complicated programming procedures.
That’s why the company has developed its CellPro Modular Robotic Systems, which can be tailored to customers’ needs and comes with the CellPro cell controller which is intuitive, allowing the user to quickly and easily create programs without any robot programming knowledge.
Walking through the Okuma stand, visitors will be able to experience a similar concept from Belgium-based company RoboJob, which Okuma is the exclusive distributor for in Australia. The mobile 20-kg robot is clever enough to stop whenever an operator comes too close; making it a perfect mobile solution for workshops as it does not require any safety-fences – while being safe. For Okuma General Manager Phil Hayes automation is crucial in order to remain competitive. “You have to apply the costs to creative work and remove repetitive work,” he emphasises.
The Okuma Multus U4000 is certainly a crowd puller as well. The multi-tasking machine features an automatic tool changer, a 240° B-axis range, generous Y-axis travel (up to a whopping 6000 mm between centres for the larger model) a subspindle and a lower turret for additional capabilities and increased throughput.
Talking about crowd pullers – race cars always do the job! While there is no real Formula 1 car at the Alfex/Haas stand, the American racing spirit is still evident. The US-based machine tool company established the Haas F1 Team in 2014, and on the machine tool side of things, business is going great in the United States with many companies bringing quality work back to the US.
In Australia times are not the brightest for machine tool distributors and haven’t been for quite a while – but according to most exhibitors including George Buhagiar from Alfex CNC , the market is stable, but has currently no potential for expansion.
Jens Hardenacke, CEO DMG Asia/Cooperation Markets, agrees. The aerospace market is still performing strongly, which is reflected by high-tech CNC machining centres on show including the DMC 80 U duoBlock 5-axis machining centre. “Our market share is stable and will not change much in future, but we are aiming for the 20% mark,” Hardenacke comments. “I worry about the mining sector and automotive of course is in decline as well.”
With difficult times ahead, it will be even more important to work smarter, more automated and with the latest equipment – which is all on show this week under one roof at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.
The next on-site report will cover the many more exciting technologies on show from companies like Amada, Headland, GWB, Techni Waterjet or Stratasys who will show how we are shaping workpieces with additive processes, subtractive processes, and both processes on the same machine. They show how we use lasers, waterjets, ultrasonics, electrical discharges and vibrations to shape and change materials.
Exciting technologies not to be missed!