US-based McQuade Industries Inc
, a cutting tool manufacturer, has gained a highly cost-effective productivity advantage by implementing a CNC upgrade programme for a line of five-axis insert grinders at its facility in Michigan.
The upgraded machines will be much easier to set up and operate and enable the company to shave more than 10min per part off the production time of cutting tools with complex geometries.
Founded in 1978, McQuade produces a diverse range of cutting tools including boring bars, milling cutters, generating heads, draw-bar-style tooling and cartridges, as well as complete turn-key tooling packages.
The company also provides customers with a fast turnround tool regrinding and repair service, backed by expertise in special carbide and precision form inserts. The machines being upgraded are RS12 insert grinders, originally manufactured by Ewag AG in Switzerland and installed by McQuade in 1988.
Donald Ostgen, McQuade’s production manager, said: “After 30-plus years, even the best machines can begin to show signs of their age; and while still in good mechanical order, the grinders’ control systems were beginning to lack the flexibility we needed for some of today’s more-complex tool geometries, leading to lengthy set-up and machining times.”
McQuade engaged the services of Advanced Machine Technologies
, a specialist CNC retrofit company also based in Michigan. The original RS12 insert grinders were fitted with NUM 760 CNC systems, NUM Guttinger NGS 610 servo drives and NUM/SEM brushed servomotors.
Having partnered with NUM
on numerous automation upgrade projects over the past 22 years, Advanced Machine Technologies has considerable experience in replacing legacy systems such as these.
In this instance, the company recommended upgrading to NUM’s latest-generation Flexium+ 68 CNC system, and replacing the drives and motors on all five axes with NUMdrive X digital servo drives and new NUM brushless servomotors.
By using NUM’s Flexium+ CNC platform, McQuade will secure full grind-cycle flexibility while continuing to use a familiar HMI (human-machine interface) and machine set-up operations.
This upgrade path also provides full backwards compatibility with part programs that the company had made over the last thirty years. Furthermore, the embedded PC in Flexium+ incorporates a flexible IIoT platform that is Industry 4.0 ready.
McQuade sanctioned the work, requesting that Advanced Machine Technologies initially upgraded a single machine so that its performance could be evaluated before progressing further.
As part of the upgrade, in addition to the CNC system, drives and motors, the insert grinder was fitted with a new NUM FS-12 touch-sensitive operator’s panel, an MP08 machine panel, and an HBA series portable hand-wheel.
The variable frequency drive for the existing grinding spindle motor was also replaced by a NUM DriveX servo drivee. The first upgraded RS12 insert grinder is now in full operation on McQuade’s production line, and the company has already commenced upgrading the next machine on the line.