Machining efficiency With Robot Duo and Large-Scale Portal Mill
In a few weeks, the EMO 2019 opens its doors again in Hannover. Innovations in machining technology are promised for the presentation by Okuma Europe. CEO Norbert Teeuwen spoke to us about the highlights visitors can expect.
The firm Okuma, based in Japan, has primarily dedicated its appearance at the EMO to automation in machining. This is why a robot duo will be adding spice to the firm’s menu at the fair. Important key sectors, however, should also be able to benefit from a new portal mill.
The preparations for the EMO are going ahead at full steam. What is Okuma concentrating on at this important fair for metal processing?
Okuma is moving automation forward. We are therefore displaying no less than two new robots at once: Standroid is an automation system with a robot arm mounted in a cell and which facilitates integration into the production environment. Its operation can therefore be just as user-friendly as that of a machine tool. With the Armroid, however, we are opening up completely new paths in machining.
That sounds fascinating. So what can the system do?
Armroid integrates, for the first time, a bent-arm robot into the working space of a machine tool. Here the robot can contribute both to automated loading/unloading and to supporting the machining process. During processing, the arm supports the workpiece and optimises waste management. The robot is operated simply by the normal CNC. No additional training is required for this.
We have also heard there will be something new in the machine tool area. What is Okuma presenting in this sector?
We are especially proud of the MCR-S portal milling machine. This new development is intended not only to convince the user by its generous dimensions of 7 m × 8 m × 16 m, but it also guarantees, with its smart features and premium functions, very high precision as well as excellent productivity and process security. In combination with the Okuma-OSP control system, the MCR-S achieves in finishing a new standard of surface quality, enabling the elimination of manual polishing. The MCR-S is designed for manufacturing sophisticated large components, including for example forming tools for the manufacture of bodywork parts in the automobile industry.
Besides the automobile sector, are there other branches of industry which your firm is specifically aiming to address?
Yes, of course. Our machining systems can be profitable, besides for the automobile sector, for makers of tools and moulds and also the aerospace industry. And anyone who is furthermore interested in digital manufacturing and suitable solutions for Industry 4.0 should certainly make a point of calling at the Okuma booth.
Which of the industry branches just mentioned do you currently see as the “motors” of your turnover?
What has always been particularly important for us is machine building in general and, not least, the aerospace industry.
You hinted that digitisation and networking will be on display for visitors. What exactly can one examine in detail at the Okuma booth?
With us, data-supported manufacture automation is reality. And in the machining branch we see ourselves as pioneers in realising Industry 4.0. The Okuma smart factory therefore offers a range of solutions simultaneously, all under the flag of digitisation. One example is the possibility of digital planning of the entire production process, from conception to machining. On the other hand, with Connect Plan, we have developed a tool with which all machine tools can be networked by means of the IoT. It furthermore enables machines from other suppliers to be integrated straightforwardly into the system.
Incidentally, does Okuma use smart systems itself?
Yes, in our own production we also present ourselves as path-breakers for Industry 4.0. We therefore use all our smart-factory solutions ourselves. This improves efficiency and simultaneously allows us to give users a concrete example of the many advantages of digitisation. Accordingly, our Dream Site 2 factory received the 2018 Good Factory award, a great distinction in Japan.
Many machine builders rely on combined processes. Here I am thinking of such things as mixtures of lasers and classical machining. What do the decision-makers at Okuma think of this?
We have played a major role in advancing the combination of subtractive and additive manufacturing processes. In cooperation with our partner Trumpf, we were the first to take this bold step, with the Laser EX series. Today, we offer numerous turning/milling centres and 5-axis processing centres which are also equipped for additive processes. And the new MCR-S portal milling machine can also be fitted with a laser head. This is a great advantage in tool and mould construction, as defective workpieces can thus be repaired relatively simply.
We have heard that Okuma has now become a cooperation member of the WBA. What are the intentions behind this step?
For Okuma, membership of the WBA connects us even more closely with the leading experts in the field of tool and mould construction. Within the WBA, we are also involved in important research and development projects.
Your firm has of course very recently also become a member of the VDWF. As a brand-new member, what benefits do you anticipate from this?
By getting involved with the VDWF, we want to collaborate with other members of the association in working towards improved visibility for German tool and mould construction and in maintaining our technological leadership in the sector.
And with the AMRC, Okuma has taken out another new membership. What is the aim here?
Okuma joined the AMRC in order to collaborate in the development of advanced machining technologies, innovative production methods, and new materials which have the potential to become industrial standards. It also involves looking further into modern machining processes for new materials, such as skiving, and other new manufacturing processes for gears. The ultimate goal is to raise the efficiency of aircraft engines, while also reducing CO2 and noise emissions.