Sharpening up grinding productivity

New machine allows manufacturer of industrial blades and machine knives to undertake larger work

Posted on 24 Apr 2017 and read 1502 times
Sharpening up grinding productivityAs Precision Edge entered its 30th year of business. it was in a strong position with home and export sales growing.

However, the Horsham-based company needed to improve productivity within its grinding section. Detailed research resulted in what it regards as the ‘Perfect’ solution.

A producer of high-quality precision industrial blades and machine knives for the packaging industry, the company supplies many ‘household names’ in the wrapping and packaging, newsprint, food-processing and recycling sectors.

Company director Ross Candfield said: “With business very buoyant last year — particularly export sales — our need to improve productivity and develop new methods of working was paramount.

“Given the nature of our product, grinding is a vital element of our manufacturing, and we knew we needed to improve throughput in this area.”

RK 2Precision Edge spent a lot of time researching its options, eventually selecting a Perfect PFG50-150 ADP PLC surface grinder from Erith-based RK International Machine Tools Ltd (www.rk-int.com).

This machine, which was installed at the end of 2016, has a 500 x 1,500mm table that allows larger work than was previously possible to be undertaken with ease; it also features a fast powered cross-feed (up to 900mm/min) and rapid head elevation — both powered by AC servo motors.

The wheel spindle is driven by a 10hp motor to a maximum speed of 1,450rev/min, while machine control is via the latest Perfect touch-screen PLC system, which has been designed to maximise ease of use (the machine at Precision Edge is one of the first of its size in the UK to have this controller).

A feature of the Perfect PLC system that appealed to Mr Candfield was the automatic shutdown system, which allows the machine to complete its cycle before automatically shutting down.

“Grinding can be a long process; and while it is common to leave machining centres operating unmanned, it is rare with grinding.

“That said, the shutdown system creates free production, as it allows us to turn the lights off, go home and leave the machine running for a couple of hours. Of course, you need to have total confidence in the machine, and we have that with the Perfect grinder.”

‘Want list’


The machine has many of the features that were on Precision Edge’s ‘want list’, including automated dressing and compensation cycles supplied as standard.

RK 1Meanwhile, the use of P4-class high-precision bearings in the sealed cartridge-type spindle gives a run-out accuracy of 2µm.

Furthermore, with an all-up weight of almost 8 tonnes, the machine is highly robust, and it offers the accuracy and repeatability that Precision Edge needs.

Other features include an easy-to-use icon-driven touch-screen control, inverter-based variable-speed drive for the grinding spindle, and commonly used grinding cycles incorporated in the control as standard. These include surface, criss-cross, plunge and pitch.

The arrival of the Perfect PFG50-150 ADP PLC at Precision Edge had an immediate impact on the company’s business, allowing it to expand production, develop new products and create possibilities of growing the business in other ways.

Mr Candfield said: “Unlike metal cutting on our machining centres, where tooling improvements deliver productivity gains, grinding is almost at a fixed point in terms of the process, so all we can do to improve throughput is to increase our capacity.

RK 3“The versatility and ease of use of the Perfect grinder are opening up more opportunities. Indeed, the capacity of the machine is such that we are being contacted by local engineering companies to undertake sub-contract work.

“This is something we had not previously considered, as we were always at capacity producing our own products.”

Precision Edge has built its reputation on introducing developments that help its customers to improve their production — such as the use of the latest materials and processes that can enhance the edge-retaining qualities of the blade and extend tool life by up to 20 times.

“This requires precise manufacturing techniques that we find are easy to achieve with the Perfect surface grinder,” says Mr Candfield, who also mentions the support that RK International provided pre-sale and post-delivery.

“Before buying this machine, we were not aware of RK International, and we researched the machine on their Web site. We placed an initial inquiry via e-mail; within a day, we had been visited by sales director Dick Aldrich.

“He went through the machine in detail and gave us the reassurance that both RK and Perfect would deliver what we needed. After-sales support has been exceptional, with training and technical support on hand when required.”

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