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Increased productivity at Etage Indústria e Comércio Ltda

Time is always a critical factor in the machining of large parts. With a view to achieving further improvements to both lead time and precision, Etage Indústria e Comércio Ltda. is placing its trust in a new complete machining centre from the Austrian company, WFL Millturn Technologies.

Etage Indústria e Comércio Ltda, which was founded in 1996 in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, specialises in the manufacturing of components for the steel industry, the oil and gas sector, the petrochemical industry and many other industrial sectors. Its focus lies in the supply of sophisticated parts manufactured from complex materials. Employing more than 100 workers, the company has developed into an important supplier for its customers. The family-run company sets itself apart from the competition with its broad range of services in particular, which enables it to provide competent support to its customers from the engineering phase, right through to the finished product.

With an operating area in excess of 7,000 m², 5,500 m² of which is pure production space, alongside all common types of tool steel, Etage primarily machines highly complex and hard-to-machine materials. “We have always seen ourselves as a complete service provider for our customers. It is of great importance to us that we gain a precise understanding of the requirements of our customers to enable us to offer them the best possible solution,” explained Thomas Damm, Managing Director at Etage.

Ever since it was founded, the company has been experiencing constant growth. In order to satisfy the increasing demand while also ensuring sufficient future potential to enable customer orders to be processed, in 2016, Etage moved to new company premises. “It became necessary to adapt the production layout to meet the increasing demand. When you are planning for the future, which, for Etage, means looking at least ten years ahead, you must also create the conditions to enable it to happen,” said Damm. “On top of that, it was clear to us that we also needed to make major changes to our machine infrastructure. The various markets that we serve have completely different requirements. In the oil and gas industries, we receive clear instructions with regard to how the parts are to be manufactured. However, in other markets, we are able to stand out from the competition by providing our customers with very specific suggestions regarding design and materials,” added the Managing Director.

 

Specialist expertise regarding complex materials

During the last 20 years, Etage has succeeded in achieving average growth of 30% year on year, which is exceptional for a company active in the machining industry. “This seems impressive, but it also presents us with a particular challenge. We view our high degree of diversification within the market as the key to security and growth. Thanks to our presence on the market and our broad service portfolio, we have been able to position ourselves well and we have developed an excellent customer base. We have succeeded in building up a great deal of competence with regard to materials, which enables us to always offer our customers the best solution in each case,” enthused Damm.

The subject of materials holds a special place in the heart of the Brazilians. Thanks to international partnerships spanning many years, a network has been created, which provides access to top-class material suppliers. “However, the machining of high-quality tools brings with it yet another challenge. The more complex the tools being machined, the better your understanding of the manufacturing process as a whole must be,” explained the Managing Director, before going on to specify that: “When, like us, you primarily manufacture single parts or batches comprising no more than 10 items, it is essential that you have an extremely good understanding of the ways in which the material, machine, tool and programming interact with one another to ensure that the required part is able to be manufactured within the desired lead time”.

Compliance with the lead time, coupled with the necessary precision, is, in many cases, the factor that decides whether or not a customer is satisfied with the fulfilment of their order, explained Damm, knowingly.

 

It is the complete solution that counts

The Brazilian machining experts are well aware of the fact that a well-coordinated team of competent employees is an essential factor in remaining internationally competitive. However, they also cite the importance of appropriate machinery as a critical success factor.

“If you want to remain competitive on the global stage, you have to come up with ideas. The same applies with regard to machine infrastructure if you want to compete in the big leagues,” declared Damm.

During the move to its new site, Etage therefore put a great deal of thought into its future machine concept. “It was clear to us that we would need to rely on the best equipment when it came to machinery too. We evaluated all of the options on the market to ascertain which solutions would be best suited to the performance of our tasks. Based on our previous experiences, we were aware that we were losing a lot of time in connection with set-up times and that we were therefore also having to put up with losses in total runtime. For that reason, we were looking specifically for a machining centre that would offer us the greatest possible potential in that area,” reflected Damm.

During the course of that evaluation process, the company looked at various systems before finally coming to the conclusion that the Millturns from WFL combined the greatest number of advantages in a single machine.

 

Combining machining operations

“We had some parts for which we used to perform the rough machining on a turning machine. For the drilling and milling operations, we needed to clamp the part to a different machine. After that, we had to continue machining it on a turning machine. The part was moved around the company several times, which brought with it a great deal of risk, as there was a chance that the part could become damaged. Not only that, but each clamping procedure that was performed had an impact on precision. And that’s before we even mention set-up times,” explained the Managing Director on the subject of past procedures.

The decision to use the M120 Millturn with a centre distance of 3 m was actually a compromise. “An M120 with a clamping length of 5 m would actually have offered us more flexibility. However, we were able to acquire the three-metre machine much more quickly. The faster availability was more important to us. However, we are already planning to invest in an M80 or an M85, for which we will select a model with a larger centre distance, which will allow us to also machine long parts efficiently (note: we are considering a clamping length of 4.5 to 6 m),” added Adriano Feitosa, Process Engineer at Etage. Feitosa also played a significant part in defining the requirements profile for the current machine. “The machine needed to provide a high output with high torque, while at the same time guaranteeing excellent precision. It needed to provide us with the possibility of machining different sized tools at the same time. It had to allow for simultaneous machining. We also wanted to be able to perform turning and milling using driven tools and a swivelling B-axis in order to reduce set-up times and, last but not least, we wanted simple programmes to cover a large number of different workpieces and a nice big tool magazine,” he recalled.

 

Uniform approach to control and programming

“In this regard, the WFL M120 Millturn turned out to be the ideal choice. We had a large number of machines at the company that used the Siemens control system. It was extremely helpful that the M120 was also equipped with a Siemens control system. We also made a strategic decision for the entire company when it came to programming. As part of this, all programming was switched over to Topsolid 7 in order to ensure a consistent concept across the entire company. As Topsolid is particularly well-suited to programming the Millturn machine, we were able to eliminate the interface issues that were present within the company and establish a homogenous complete solution,” said Feitosa.

The switch to the new machine brought with it significant advantages, as evidenced by the impressive example provided by the process engineer. “We were able to achieve enormous reductions in the machining time of a part used in the oil and gas industry. Thanks to the WFL machine, several turning, drilling and milling operations, which we previously had to perform on separate machines, can now be efficiently handled with a single clamping procedure. As a result, the machining time has been reduced from 5 hours to just 50 minutes. When you also take account of the fact that changeover times can be completely eliminated and that the risk of damage during the transportation of parts between machines is no longer present, you can get a good idea of what exactly this means for us,” enthused the process engineer.

 

Seamless integration

The deployment of the new machine, which was brought into service shortly after the move to the new premises, has been described as seamless by Etage. “We are delighted that commissioning was so quick and problem-free. The training provided for the new machine and the support from WFL during the initial period really helped us become productive with the machine in next to no time. The WFL support team stood by our side and helped us to quickly become acquainted with the machine. The intensive discussions that were held with both the WFL commissioning team and the WFL technicians in the run-up to commissioning contributed to this. Thanks to the good preparation and a clear simulation, we are yet to experience any issues with the programming of our workpieces specifically. WFL did an excellent job in that regard,” said Damm, praising the entire WFL team.

“All things considered, the performance of the M120 Millturn is rather impressive. It is like a plane that is being flown in zero visibility. When everything is well prepared, when all checks have been successfully carried out and when all processes have been properly performed, nothing can possibly go wrong. When the process steps are correctly followed, smooth running is guaranteed. What the machine is then able to achieve is impressive. In spite of its small installation area, the M120 Millturn offers the best possible degrees of precision and productivity for the rough machining of large parts right through to the precision machining of highly complex geometries in the 1/1000 millimetre range,” concluded Feitosa on the subject of the performance range of the new machine.

Responsible for the content of this press release: WFL Millturn Technologies GmbH & Co. KG

Contact

WFL Millturn Technologies GmbH & Co. KG
Wahringerstraße 36
4030 Linz
Austria
+43 732 6913-0
+43 732 6913-8172

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