“At the first part of the flow line assembly area we install the main groups on to the machine bed itself. We call that Station One. We then move it to Station Two where we fit the electrical cabinet. At Station Three we start doing all the cabling and the pipework on the machine and then at Station Four everything is finished off and prepared for electrical commissioning. One of the things we do at Station Three is connecting a tall magazine motor to the main shaft of the machine. All that’s connected on top of the machine with KTR couplings,” David says while walking through the workstations. “We also connect the spindle motor and the spindle cartridge with KTR couplings. Which is probably the most important coupling on the whole machine, because all of the cutting forces generated from machining are passed through to the spindle assembly to the motor. In fact, all of the magazines are built using the same KTR coupling for driving the magazine chain itself.”
Passionate about visualisation..
“One of the things that we’re very keen on is visualisation of what’s going on in our production area at all times. Early in 2015 our managing director Matthias Meyer joined Heller and he brought with him a wealth of experience on visualising more detail into assembly processes. We’ve created an oversight with two soon-to-be-electronic boards which show the detailed status of any machine, at any given time, in any of the assembly areas. We use a traffic light system, which indicates what’s going on with the machine. Green light obviously means good to go, no problems with the machine. Amber means there’s work to do on the machine but it should be OK for the scheduled date. Red means there’s an issue that needs our attention immediately. Every single morning we have a production meeting with all of our colleagues associated with the production process. Myself as operations manager, the assembly managers, supervisors from assembly areas, the guys from the logistics team, we all come together every morning to talk about everything that’s going on. That way, we all have total accountability and know what’s going on so that any issues can always be addressed. Our first meetings took us somewhere around two to three hours, nowadays we’ve got it down to about 10 minutes per meeting,” David says proudly.
The rubber stamp of guarantee..
“Once the machines are mechanically assembled at the top of our flow line, we move it towards the commissioning stations. In these stations the machines are fitted with all electrical commissioning, we adjust the geometrical alignment of the machine and do the axis laser calibration. We then produce an NAS test piece of the machine which is a standard, high-accuracy component. That piece is then being checked in our in-house CMM room. Heller has a global standard for the type of equipment that checks the measurements. So if you go to Heller in Germany, Brazil, America or China you find the same type of coordinate measuring equipment as the ones we have here in the UK. The sole purpose for doing all this is giving the customer the guarantee of accuracy of the machine. Some companies use other means of checking the geometry of the machine. We prefer to physically cut a part. That way we’re not just saying that the machine is accurate, we’re saying that it can actually do the job that it’s been designed to do.”