Fully automated

September 2011

Turning and turning milling centers for parts weighing from 1 to 400 kg

Concrete challenges can work like catalysts and encourage major solutions to be found. This is how the enquiry and subsequent order received from the Chinese Sany Group by the Austrian EMCO Group led to a comprehensive, creative automation concept for Turning and Turning Milling Centers. Users can now obtain a fully automated tool machine suited to their requirements which processes parts weighing between 1 and 400 kg from one source. This saves the Purchaser time, work and costs, and at the same time increases the accuracy of the solution in meeting requirements.

From enquiry to contract

Probably the largest manufacturer of construction machinery in Asia issued the enquiry for a total of 21 machine tools, including 13 turning and turning milling centers complete with automated tool change, parts storage and handling loading and unloading for parts weighing up to 150 kg. With this equipment at its Changshu site in south-eastern China, the location of its headquarters, Sany intends to process precision parts: drive shafts, splined shafts, flanges and similar precision components. On the basis of workpiece drawings, bidders were asked to compile proposals for the various machine tools and all the necessary documentation. The boundary conditions specified by the Chinese company were an availability rate of 98% in 24-hour operation, 7 days/week.  EMCO recognized the opportunity to bundle together its own competencies and to profile the program: “We are now using not only our relevant production know-how, but also our know-how in automation technology for our whole portfolio of lathes and turning centers,” is how engineer Dr. Stefan Hansch, CEO of EMCO Maier, describes the strategy of the Hallein company. He explains: “This creates the foundation which will enable us in future to automate our largest turning centers on the workpiece side independently and comprehensively, thereby increasing the percentage of our own added value.” In only 5 working days, the EMCO project managers drew up the concept and layout for the automation solution including a guideline offer. Both the quick response and the solution, which included technical as well as production organizational factors, and the price/performance ratio convinced Sany’s production experts. Helmut Huber, Head of Automation at EMCO, adds: “For Sany the decisive factor was that EMCO was prepared to take responsibility for the whole 6 million-Euro project, namely for 19 turning centers and workpiece-side automation including full engineering.”The positive reference given by Mitsubishi in China, as well as the shaft clamping chuck introduced in the country by Emco also served to inspire confidence at the outset.Qualitatively as well as quantitatively, the company is launching itself in new directions. Instead of relying on external providers of engineering services, the company is gaining the competence needed to be able in future to automate even the largest processing centers on the workpiece side using its own program. In terms of order of magnitude, this decision means a leap from a workpiece weight of 10 kg to 150 kg; accordingly, parts with diameters of 60 to 200 mm and up to 2,000 mm in length. Helmut Huber is certain that: “Apart from EMCO, I know of no other machine tool manufacturer which can offer such an integrated portal solution for workpiece handling for its whole program from one source.” Following the award of the contract, the Austrian machine tool experts gave a detailed presentation of these technical solutions to their new customer at a design meeting held at the Changshu headquarters. They presented time studies, tools lists, layouts and data of the partners’ shares. The first high-performance turning milling centers were ready for acceptance only twelve weeks after the order.

An integrated concept

The user receives a complete turn-key solution. This contains all hardware and software components from the automated takeover of the parts to be processed through their processing in the machine tool up to handover of the finished part.  All the high-tech turning, milling and turning milling centers for industrial applications are available from EMCO as processing centers. They process workpieces up to 1050 mm in diameter and offer a travel range up to 580 mm for workpieces weighing between 1 and 400 kg, or even more on request. The loading and unloading equipment is orientated to the type and size of machine, the geometry of the base material and the finished workpiece: swivel or portal loaders with unfinished and finished part belts or supply lines. Also integrated in the systems are the workpiece grippers, pallet tops, tool changers (eg in revolving design), measurement stations, signaling stations, cleaning containers and even conveyors for chips, cooling and preparation plants for the cooling lubricants. All working processes and peripheral functions are controlled by the central machine control system. For special applications, EMCO Robo Load 10 is available as a system solution with robot handling. If the customer requests it, the software can also include already completed programs for the actual workpieces to be produced. For the application of the 13 machine tools at Sany, a solution with portal loaders is suitable for technical and commercial reasons. This guarantees the highest degree of flexibility.

Concrete solution for Sany: 21 automated turning and turning milling centers

The part-contract for automated machine tools placed on EMCO comprised 13 systems. These include 8 high-performance CNC turning centers Maxxturn, 5 high-performance CNC turning and milling centers Hyperturn, and also 4*MT45 aund 4*MT65 with bar feeders. For each of the 13 machine tool systems, the Hallein project engineers work on the layout and all hardware components including mounting, tool holders and tools. The scope of the contract also includes the processing and sequence programs, including time studies for each of 5 different workpieces for the turning centers or 3 for the turning milling centers (details of the processing centers and workpieces are given in the summary tables).All electrical shaft grippers on the 8 turning centers are provided by Sommer automatic, Ettlingen/Germany. These ensure that the parts, which can weigh up to 150 kg, are gripped safely. They in fact use the electrical impulses for self-locking of the worm gears. This technology also has the advantage of ensuring that the position on the gripper is queried via the C-axis. Compressed air is therefore completely unnecessary. For the 5 turning milling centers, EMCO uses its tried and trusted 3-jaw pneumatic grab heads. Every machine has 2 each of these.For the large portal systems, the Hallein team works with Güdel, Langenthal/Switzerland. This specialist in modular portals has an impressive level of technical competency and short delivery times. It achieves this with an unusual depth of in-house production: from basic units through guide mechanisms and racks to gears, the Swiss company manufactures everything itself. With its qualified 24 hour/7 days a week service in China, it offers just the right addition to EMCO’s customer service as its local partner. The smaller 2-axis portals, the 3 Maxxturn 65 MY and the 5 Hyperturn 665 MC plus Y are manufactured by EMCO.As the Main Contractor, EMCO also takes responsibility for the tools and tool-holders. Its partners include Algra, Sandvik and WTO, and as a specialist in the special milling machine for manufacturing gearing, the Swiss company Schnyder.The control system has a further practical use. All processing centers including the relevant peripherals work with identical control hardware and software: Sinumerik 840D/powerline 840D-sl with PCU 50.


The project for Sany started in Hallein during calendar week 40 (the start of October) in 2010. Commissioning and training of Sany employees started as early as Week 26 (the end of July) in the Changshu headquarters. Training and induction will take around 3 months. After this, Sany will be able to fully exploit the automation solution. Helmut Huber summarizes the outlook: “The integrated design and obtaining everything complete from one source will bring our customer Sany the greatest possible benefit. On average we expect a thirty percent reduction in personnel costs, significantly higher productivity and reliability in the process compared with conventional solutions”.Number of characters approx.: 8,570