Bundling production stages, reducing throughput times, cutting costs – all thanks to steal and plate processing technology
Lean, stand-alone business models – in addition to the latest technology – are a measure of a company's flexibility and customer focus, and the basis for continuous growth. This is the philosophy underpinning gsd Großanlagen- und Schwermaschinenbau Dessau GmbH, founded in 1999. It has developed into the TMGROUP, a medium-sized, owner-operated group of companies which works primarily in the fields of heavy steel fabrication, mechanical engineering and plant manufacturing. Over the years, the group has split into various subsidiaries which serve different production areas. This strategy is designed to guarantee the customer and market focus of the individual lines of business in the long term. The steel, component and cab chassis fabrication sector was hived off into the newly formed SFB Schönebecker Fahrzeugbau GmbH on 1 July 2008.
At its Schönebeck/Elbe site in Saxony-Anhalt, SFB Schönebecker Fahrzeugbau GmbH has a 110-strong workforce with an annual production capacity of 140,000 hours and a modern machinery park on a 20,000 m² shop floor. With a broad range of customers, the company places great emphasis on proven expertise in sheet metal/welded assemblies and cab chassis fabrication combined with modern painting and surface finishing processes. The company processes around 4500 tonnes of steel annually to manufacture installation-ready assemblies for a wide range of environmental engineering products used all around the world. Reference projects include wind turbines for industry specialists such as Enercon. Although Germany is the core sales market, orders increasingly come from abroad, from Italy or Canada, for example. Customers around the world appreciate the machining capabilities of SFB Schönebecker Fahrzeugbau GmbH.
High demand calls for the latest technology
Rising customer demand automatically places greater demands on production. Steel fabricators wanting to respond quickly and cost-effectively to a wide variety of orders need a flexible, state-of-the-art machinery park with carefully coordinated processes. SFB’s requirements were thus clear from the outset: To minimise throughput times, increase productivity and make production more affordable. Where possible, the various stages such as drilling, milling and cutting, previously performed on separate machines, were to be bundled on one machine. This not only reduces manufacturing times and eliminates bottlenecks during parts provisioning, it also frees up personnel for other tasks. SFB also had other specific requirements. Limited space on the shop floor called for a space-saving solution, whilst customers placed great emphasis on precision-milled slots; a technical requirement which demands a very particular expertise.
So SFB went in search of a cutting and drilling machine manufacturer capable of meeting all these objectives. In day-to-day production, it is common practice to use machine tools from different manufacturers. As a result, fabricators have a good opportunity to routinely compare the maintenance requirements, engineering quality and robustness of individual machines on their own shop floor. These daily in-house comparisons were a decisive factor in SFB’s decision to choose KALTENBACH, the international machine tool manufacturer from Lörrach. The company was extremely impressed with the performance of a KALTENBACH circular saw, which has been in operation since the 90s.
But SFB was ultimately convinced by KALTENBACH’s technical capabilities and advisory skills at the Hannover trade fair, where they had an opportunity to examine in detail the technical aspects of the machines on display. Due to the limited spaced in the factory building, the decision came down to a variant of the KBS 602 bandsaw, the KDM 615 profile drilling machine and the M 152 GG measuring carriage, whose compact size is perfect for tight spaces.
More than just cutting and drilling
The KBS 620 band saw with mitre unit takes care of the cutting. It is suitable for light to medium-duty steel fabrication were the precision cutting of a wide variety of profiles and flat steel is an absolute must. This machine can be used for straight or mitre cuts – just the job for handling a diverse range of orders. It also offers other technical refinements: The stable, twin-column construction of the horizontal saw gives perfect cutting results and superior cutting performance thanks to a powerful drive motor. The NC-controlled cutting-angle setting ensures outstanding precision. KALTENBACH's signature low-maintenance design keeps maintenance costs at an acceptable level.
From a quick glance at the KALTENBACH KDM 615 high-performance drilling machine, it is immediately apparent that this is the ideal partner for synchronising with the KBS 620 bandsaw. It has three fully automatic tool changers each with five tools. The zero-play tool holder for HSS, carbide and solid carbide drills guarantees optimum precision and maximum torque. The ability to mill precise slots on all three drilling axes was one of the main factors that persuaded SFB to purchase the KDM 615. The machining unit handles demanding tasks with ease, thanks in part to its rigid frame. Complex trajectories and holes up to 40 mm in diameter can be milled on all three axes. An increase in productivity is also achieved by high processing speeds with an rpm range of up to 2500 min-1.
Optional extras make all the difference
A material marking function on all three axes was included as an optional extra. KALTENBACH's contour marking system uses carbide tools to mill the desired marks. This useful function can be used to apply instructions and references to the material to be machined. This makes downstream machining processes significantly easier, for example welding add-on pieces. The KALTENBACH Starter Kit is another optional extra which not only ensures a smooth start to production, it also optimises machine availability simply and safely. This kit contains the essential tools and lubricants required to keep machine running costs as low as possible and ensure continuity of production processes.
The cutting/drilling machine works in conjunction with the M 152 GG sliding measuring carriage with two grippers. The advantage of this system is twofold: It prevents measurements from being lost once they have been made, thereby substantially reducing the error rate currently resulting from manual measurements. And thanks to the double gripper design of the M 152 GG, it also deals with the lack of space; this technical solution ensures that the feed conveyor for the measuring carriage travels as short a distance as possible and therefore takes up comparatively little space. Well-designed technology made by KALTENBACH makes all the difference.
As you would expect from KALTENBACH, intuitive machine operation, efficient drilling, milling and counter-sinking and the required flexibility and capacity expansion are ensured by Profiline, a modern steel fabrication software package which comes with an office license. Mr Schreiber, production manager at SFB Schönebecker Fahrzeugbau GmbH, has noticed improvements even after just a short time. He is very happy with the new addition to his machinery park: “If you want to maintain your position as a premium supplier, you have to offer your customers optimal solutions. So we are delighted to have found in KALTENBACH a machine-tool specialist who could fully satisfy our clear performance requirements. “We managed to increase our productivity in a very short space of time with the new sawing and drilling system. By reducing manufacturing times by more than 60% to one third of the previous time, we can now process more orders. Thus, not only have we noticeably reduced costs, we have also optimised our manpower capacity.” We particularly appreciated the fact KALTENBACH had a detailed understanding of our requirements and could offer tailor-made solutions based on innovative engineering technology. Thanks to KALTENBACH's high quality standards and reliable spare parts availability, we can look forward to using a reliable machine with a long service life.”