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Werkzeugmaschinenbau Sinsheim – WMS retrofit: Higher productivity at very low costs

Albert-Frankenthal GmbH, a prestigious manufacturer of high-precision cylinders for the printing industry, opted for a retrofitted centre-drive lathe overhauled by Werkzeugmaschinenbau Sinsheim (WMS), the service specialist of the DVS TECHNOLOGY GROUP – a double success since Albert-Frankenthal not only saves 40 percent of investment costs compared to an equivalent new machine but also benefits from significantly increased productivity.

Manufacturing rotationally symmetrical high-precision steel components is the speciality of Albert Frankenthal GmbH, a subsidiary of printing machine group Koenig & Bauer. The company is headquartered in Frankenthal, Rhineland-Palatinate/Germany, and an expert maker of cylinders for various printing industry applications. Its products not only sell well to the printing industry, however, but also to other machine builders such as manufacturers of heavy-duty lift tables or foam rubber cutting machines. More than 150 years of manufacturing experience, knowing the very specific needs of the printing industry, and working closely together with its customers are the basis of Albert-Frankenthal’s solutions designed to meet the strictest requirements and to enable cost-efficient production. Higher profitability was also the key prerequisite when, at the beginning of 2015, Albert-Frankenthal’s Managing Director Hans-Peter Kohlmann and Production Manager Markus Spiegel decided to replace a centre-drive lathe with a new machine after the old one had been running for about 20 years. The new machine had to feature an automatic workpiece changer in order to reduce both handling and machining times. Further requirements set by Kohlmann and Spiegel's specifications were to extend the maximum length of parts from 2,000 mm to 3,000 mm and to enable two-sided milling and drilling.

40 percent less customer investment

Eventually, Albert-Frankenthal did not purchase a new machine as originally intended but rather decided to acquire a retrofitted machine previously used by a supplier to the commercial vehicle industry and mechanically and electronically overhauled by the DVS service specialist Werkzeugmaschinenbau Sinsheim (WMS). The main reason was that WMS, who also performs periodic maintenance and repair work related to different machine tools of the Frankenthal-based company, were able to offer the completely overhauled machine at 40 percent less than the investment cost of an equivalent new machine without Albert-Frankenthal losing out on any of the requested machine’s performance capabilities. However, Albert-Frankenthal not only benefitted from the cooperation with WMS by saving investment costs. Pursuant to its own specifications, the company also had the chance of taking an active part in the general overhaul to arrange a tailor-made technological equipment of the machine. One of the reasons being that, before starting the actual overhaul process, WMS entirely dismantles machines in order to find the components that may have to be repaired or replaced. When re-assembling the machine, the WMS experts are then able to add new modules or properties according to customer preferences. "Our specifications were already quite comprehensive in listing all the function we were interested in", says Markus Spiegel. And: "We then joined forces with the WMS engineers to design additional machine features like the automation concept, for instance".

Tailor-made upgrade planned together with the customer

This was the basis upon which WMS' mechanical and electrical engineers as well as software developers planned all steps of retrofitting the entire centre-drive lathe in close cooperation with the customer: From overhauling the machine and adding new subassemblies to the required tools and machining strategy and the software needed to actually manufacture the required products, Albert-Frankenthal was provided with an integrated package of products and services. A portal loader for automatic loading was the main element to increase the level of automation. Other add-ons included a workpiece stacker able to hold up to ten workpieces between 800 mm and 3,000 mm long, a diameter of up to 200 mm, and a weight of 250 kg. With this stack of workpieces, the machine can now run fully automatically for two to three hours. The processing of very long parts was optimised by adding two self-centring sliding carriages with a back stay. Also, while overhauling the lathe, the machine was turned into a lathe milling machine by integrating an extra Y-axis and power-driven tools. Apart from turning the parts on a lathe, they can now also be milled and drilled without re-chucking. In-process cooling and lubricating were also much improved. One added feature was a high-pressure cooling and lubricating implement. The other one was an entirely new system for reprocessing the cutting fluid. This filter unit now returns much of the cutting fluid to a recirculating system, thereby significantly reducing the costs of new and disposing of old cutting fluid.

Ultramodern 16-axle control unit with Ethernet port for daisy-chained production

A new control unit allowed the machine to actually make optimal use of all the new functions. A Siemens 840D sl control unit provides easy control over the doubled number of now 16 axes and spindles and enables that its network link supports both on-site and remote maintenance. Another benefit is that the Ethernet connection allows the machine to be integrated into an interlinked production line. "All in all, 80 percent of the machine is actually a new design. All that's left of the old machine is the machine base that the compound slides for X- and Y-axis", says WMS’ Managing Director Claus Weiske summing up the outcome of the cooperation. Albert Frankenthal considers the team effort a complete success. "We accomplished all our objectives regarding the machining and handling times", says Managing Director Hans-Peter Kohlmann. The machining time is now 20 percent shorter. The portal loader even saves 70 percent of the time needed for changing the workpieces. Additionally, machine operator intervention is no longer necessary. Albert-Frankenthal's Managing Director says he will remember the project shared with the service specialists of the DVS TECHNOLOGY GROUP "almost like winning the lottery" and that he deeply appreciates the excellent cooperation of both companies' experts. Another piece of proof of this cooperation was in navigating over 40 tons of equipment across the site and through some very narrow spots at the end of the project. "Moving the machine to its final place was absolute precision work. But like the rest of the project, this last step was mastered superbly" says Hans-Peter Kohlmann.


Mr. Marc Hain

Johannes-Gutenberg-Straße 1
D-63128 Dietzenbach

Responsible for the content of this press release: DVS TECHNOLOGY GROUP


Johannes-Gutenberg-Straße 1
63128 Dietzenbach
+49 (0) 6074 30 40 6 0
+49 (0) 6074 30 40 6 55

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