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Okuma Europe GmbH News

COMPLETE RENEWAL OF CHUCK TOOL PRODUCTION

11.July 2016

BISON meets future challenges head-on

The Polish BISON Group is among the world’s leading manufacturers of chuck tools. To ensure their continued ability to meet individual customer demands in the future and to break into new markets, BISON has made substantial investments in their production. The company has acquired 40 CNC Machine tools by all-in-one manufacturer Okuma. Simultaneously, extensive know-how needed to be transferred in order to enable BISON staff to operate the new state-of-the-art machinery. At the newly implemented BISON Academy, Okuma experts pass on their knowledge and train new personnel for work at the machines.

BISON began in 1948 as a manufacturer of clamping tools but soon extended their portfolio to include chucks. While they initially mostly delivered products to the former Soviet Union, the manufacturer exports to more than 70 countries today and counts 700 employees. The central production site is near the city of Bialystok in eastern Poland. The portfolio ranges from lathe chucks and lathe faceplates, vises, power chucks and hydraulic cylinders, chuck jaws, VDI toolholders and spindle tooling to milling and indexing fixtures. Custom solutions for individual demands complement BISON’s wide range of over 20,000 products. BISON products are cast at the in-house foundry and then processed and finished at the facility. All company processes are controlled by an ERP-Software.

Custom chuck tools demand maximum efficiency

Jacek Latomski is the owner and CEO of the BISON Group. The entrepreneur decided to enhance the production in order to equip BISON for the future. Given the growing trend towards custom chuck tools, a more efficient way of manufacturing had to be employed. Jacek Latomski explains: “Conventional machine tools allowed for high quality manufacturing, but they provided neither the flexibility nor the speed that our production needed.”  A total investment volume of 70 Billion Euros provided 30,000 m² of additional factory space and an almost entirely new machine park. The European Union considered the large-scale project worth supporting and provided additional funding from their “Innovative Economy” programme.

Executives at BISON decided that the new CNC machine tools should be provided by Okuma. “Only a handful of machine tool builders met all of our manufacturing needs. But only Okuma also provides both the precision and the support that we need moving forward,” says Latomski.  HTM (High Technology Machines), Gliwice, Okuma’s Polish distributor, has supervised each step of the machines’ set-up since late 2014. The bulk of the new machine tools is comprised of multitasking machines from Okuma’s MULTUS series. Additionally, BISON has acquired several Okuma machines that are being employed in the production of larger chuck tools for new markets.

 „A single Okuma multitasking machine substitutes for five conventional machine tools“

In deciding on new machine tools, BISON mainly chose multitasking machines to replace the conventional machine tools. “The demand for classic lathes has decreased in recent years. Multitasking machines allow for turning and cutting operations on a single machine centre, which increases throughput and flexibility,” explains BISON sales executive Thomas Bach. Machine tools from Okuma’s MULTUS U series now stand at the heart of the production, allowing for process-intensive and complete machining in complex applications. The decision to use multitasking machines is rooted in a change in market demands. “Simple mass production is slowly losing relevance in our industry. Instead, manufacturers need to be able to adapt to their customers’ individual needs,” adds Bach.

Okuma’s Intelligent Multitasking Machines MULTUS U3000 and MULTUS U4000 are designed for simultaneous and synchronised machining. Due to the machines’ versatility, BISON can use the MULTUS U lathes to produce a wide range of diverse chucks as well as custom parts. Production director Marcin Mysior is convinced of the advantages the new additions provide: “It used to take five machines to achieve what we are now able to do on a single MULTUS U. Since everything is done in a single set-up, our entire production has become significantly faster and more flexible.“ Different high-speed functions have further increased production speeds. For safe machining, the Okuma machines are equipped with the Collision Avoidance System to prevent costly damages. Okuma also provided the CNC control OSP-P300: “The control is intuitive and allows us to perform all operations using only one software application. The visual control panel allows for easy use and more comfortable programming of the individual workpieces,” explains production director Mysior. Thus, time-consuming work steps are eliminated and operators do not need additional training on the controls.

New machines for new markets

BISON was not only looking to optimise established processes, however. In order to expand their product range and to reach new groups of customers, the manufacturer also invested in the production of large workpieces. Okuma’s Double-Column Multitasking Machine VTR-350A is not only impressive in its overall dimensions but also in terms of workpiece size. The machine handles diameters of up to 3,500 mm and lengths up to 2,400 mm, enabling BISON to efficiently manufacture very large custom parts.  The machine is equipped with the Thermo-Friendly Concept – a standard on Okuma machines – which effectively compensates for thermal deformation. This ensures the accuracy BISON needs to provide the high quality their products are known for. In addition, the 5-Axis Vertical Multitasking Machine VTM-2000YB has taken up work at BISON last year and allows for turning and milling operations as well as 5-axis processing of large workpieces in a single set-up. For the first time ever, BISON is able to manufacture lathe faceplates that are up to 2,000 mm in diameter as well as other sizable workpieces thanks to these machines. With this leap forward in terms of workpiece dimension BISON plans to expand to new markets, such as wind energy.

Another addition to BISON’s machine park is Okuma’s Horizontal Machining Centre MB-10000H. BISON is going to be using it for large workpieces and upcoming product innovations. Again, versatility was one of the deciding factors for this machine, as it can easily be adjusted with flexible manufacturing systems, pallet stations and robots, in order to adapt to changed manufacturing needs.

Transferring know-how at the BISON-Academy

Okuma and their Polish distributer HTM were able to offer BISON a complete package that goes far beyond machine delivery and support. In fact, they have provided the solution to one of the most pressing challenges BISON faced during the renewal. The economically weak region around Bialystok suffered from a severe lack of qualified personnel to operate the state-of-the-art machines. The answer to this problem came in the form of the BISON Academy, an in-house training facility. Experts from both Okuma and HTM transfer their extensive knowledge of the machines to new and established BISON staff.  Training is performed directly on the machines as well as in an office space with 20 workstations. Software simulates the Okuma CNC control on computers and allows trainees to learn and practice different operations. After successfully finishing the multi-level training at the process simulation software, the so-called PC-NC Master, trainees receive a certification that qualifies them to operate the Okuma machines.

The success story continues

According to Jacek Latomski the newly acquired Okuma machines allow for just-in-time serialised manufacturing. Furthermore, they were able to reduce labour cost by 50 per cent. The machines are expected to be amortised within three to four years. Meanwhile, BISON has been developing a variety of new products. “New chuck tools ensure our continued market position as a premium brand for the future,” says Thomas Bach. BISON will be presenting some of these innovations as early as this year’s AMB (Stuttgart, Germany, September 13-17, 2016). The investment in Okuma products has borne fruit and enabled BISON to seize new opportunities – in keeping with Okuma’s brand message “Open Possibilities”.

Responsible for the content of this press release: Okuma Europe GmbH

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+49 (0)2151-374 0
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