Pioneering precision subcontractor invests in an automation-ready high-performance Doosan 5-axis machining centre from Mills CNC.
Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has supplied Hertfordshire-based, leading precision subcontract specialist - Qualiturn Products Ltd - with a new high-performance Doosan DVF 5000 (5-axis) machining centre.
The machine, one of the first of its kind to be installed in the UK, was acquired by Qualiturn to significantly strengthen its in-house milling capabilities and capacity.
The DVF 5000 was installed at Qualiturn’s modern and spacious 20,000 square foot facility in February 2019. The machine’s delivery was timed to coincide with the company’s relocation to these new premises which occurred, and was completed, that same month.
Qualimill subcontract milling department
Although Qualiturn, as its name suggests, was originally established back in 1974 as a turning subcontract specialist the company has, in recent years, invested heavily in a number of advanced, high-quality Doosan machining centres to offer a premium milling machining subcontract service to its customers.
These machines, a DNM 650 with a 4th-/5th-axis unit; a DNM 400 Mk II and a DNM 500 Mk II were installed at the company’s (previous) facility in 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively,
The machines are the mainstay of the company’s Qualimill subcontract milling department where the machining of high-precision, complex components in mixed batch sizes from a range of materials (i.e. aluminium, steel, Stainless Steels, plastics etc.), takes place.
The DVF 5000, naturally, has been installed in this Department.
Says Nick Groom, Qualiturn’s Managing Director:
“We operate a high-productivity, highly-efficient and flexible milling cell that runs 24/7 and that provides customers with high-quality, competitively-priced machined components - delivered in double quick time.
“The DVF 5000 investment was made to improve our milling capabilities and complements our existing milling technologies.”
The Automation imperative
Qualiturn is no stranger to multi-axis machining or automation.
The company has an extensive range of sliding and fixed head lathes - all integrated with bar feeders and all with milling (driven tooling) capabilities.
Since 1990 the company, through its technology investments and commitment to continuous improvement, has embraced ‘lights-out’ operations in its turning department enabling it to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - with just its daytime staffing levels.
Explains Nick Groom:
“We are keen advocates of ‘one hit’ machining and, wherever possible, look to automate our processes.”
This commitment to continuous improvement through automation led Qualiturn (back in 2014) to invest in (what transpired to be) its first Lang Robo-Trex robot system for its Qualimill operation.
“We wanted to achieve similar high productivity and efficiency results across our milling operations as those achieved in our turning department”, says Nick Groom.
The Lang Robo-Trex System
The Robo-Trex system is an advanced and proven automation solution. The system uses mobile trollies which are loaded with multiple vices that hold workpieces. The workpieces when prepped are loaded into the Doosan DNM 650 machining centre by the system’s robot.
Says Nick Groom:
“The robot picks workpieces from the trollies and loads them into the (DNM) machine. When the parts are machined (to completion) they are returned to the trollies. Once a trolley is filled with machined parts, it is removed and replaced with another trolley loaded with new workpieces that require machining.
“The system allows the DNM 650 machining centre to run, unattended, all day and all night if required.”
DVF 5000 - the investment decision unpicked
Such was the success of the DNM 650/Lang Robo-Trex automated manufacturing cell that the company decided to invest in a second cell.
However, rather than merely replicating the milling technology used in the first cell, the company investigated the potential of using a 5-axis machining centre - and ultimately decided on investing in a new Doosan DVF 5000 machine.
Says Nick Groom:
“We have a good relationship with Mills CNC and have a high regard for the Doosan machine tools they sell and support.
“Even though we predominantly use our existing DNM 650 machine, with its 4th-/5th-axis table, for 5-face (3 + 2 and 4 + 1 positional) machining - we recognised that an investment in a 5-axis machine tool that provided full (5-axis) simultaneous machining capabilities, was a logical progression for us; one that could well future-proof our milling requirements.”
Key requirements for Qualiturn’s new 5-axis machine were many and varied, and included the following:
New 5-axis machine checklist
The new machine needed to be compact and have a small footprint; be configured for automation (i.e. automatic door open/close facility and good access for robot loading and unloading); have full simultaneous 5-axis machining capability; have high-accuracy and high-speed machining capabilities; be equipped with a generous sized tool changer; be supplied with a Fanuc control; be augmented with first-class technical back-up and after-sales support.
Concludes Nick Groom:
“The DVF 5000 ticked all the boxes and, following its installation in February 2019, has been integrated with our second Lang Robo-Trex system.
“The cell is fully operational and runs 24/7.
“The Doosan DVF 5000 is a high-performance machine and, by integrating it with an automated parts handling system, we have been able to exploit its true (and full) potential. As a result we have experienced dramatic productivity gains and significantly reduced lead times - both of which make us more competitive.”
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