An unique achievement: 600 Bumotec s191 machines sold

The assets of the Bumotec s191: A new benchmark in ease of use

The s191 is a high-precision horizontal machining center offering remarkable flexibility and enabling excellent configuration modularity to meet most challenges. Capable of operating with bar diameters of 32, 50 or 65 mm, this machining center equipped with linear motors has up to 7 axes and 3 spindles, as well as a tool magazine containing up to 90 stored tools.

It is extremely rare in the world of machinetools for such a high number of machines to be sold. The s191 is a special case. It adapts to any environment and is a unique model whose versatility makes it the Swiss army knife of machining centers.

    Can you give me your personal definition?

    Guy Ballif: Olivier Conne, CEO of Del West, you have renamed it the “dancer”…

    Olivier Conne: Yes! On numerous occasions, I have referred to the Bumotec s191 as the “dancer” because its counter-spindle performs movements with the greatest elegance. It is both beautiful and high-precision.

    Guy Ballif: Seriously though, I often say that the Bumotec s191 is a real Swiss army knife. Just like the iconic tool with a variety of functions, the s191 is, all in all, an excellent base which can be easily adapted and even adjusted to the customer’s specific requirements. It all starts with a relatively simple machining center which can machine bracelet links or other prismatic industrial workpieces from bars, right up to a complete machine equipped with a counter-spindle, an integrated automation system and even the possibility of grinding. It enables   the user to produce parts from ceramic, hard metal and even synthetic materials, thanks to a combination of conventional milling and grinding operations. This platform covers a vast range of customer requirements. And the versatility of this machine is proven by the large number of centers in the machine inventory: over 600 s191 models are installed and in service worldwide! It’s sufficiently rare to be of note, and something to be proud of. The greatest assets of this model are its precision and its thermal stability. So it is great to have a machine that is ready to use within a few minutes of being switched on and that is capable of producing workpieces with exact dimensions right from the first draft. A machine which has an excellent reputation as much for its repeatability as for its reliability. In almost 15 years of existence, the s191 has never been transformed, but numerous changes have turned it into a real benchmark for “mill turn” machines. It is also renowned for being very easy to use.

    The Swiss Knife“ producing a diamond ring

    During Tgold in Vicenza Italy we demonstrated the capability of our "Swiss Knife" Bumotec s191H to produce a magnificent and complex diamond ring in a single setup and without any production interruptions, thanks to the retaking unit and the palletizer system loading blanks and unloading perfect rings...

    Why are you inaugurating the 600th s191 machine sold? Is it because sales of this machine model are beginning to drop?

    Stéphane Violante: Quite the opposite actually. Year on year, sales of this model continue to increase. To hit the six hundredth machine sold means that it has proven itself on the market and continues to meet a real need. Despite the fact that this need is changing, the s191 continues to be able to respond without any trouble.It’s an event in itself having 600 machines installed and in service. It should be noted that the first center installed still performs extremely well. It is therefore a flagship product which has definitely proven itself, and this guarantees the longevity of this machine.

    Guy Ballif: In fact, for a customer, what greater guarantee of stability and maturity is there than the knowledge that there are already so many machines of the same model all operating problem-free. Hence, the associated risks are minimized, something our customers really appreciate.

    Jean-Daniel Isoz: It is important to remember that we, just like most other Swiss machine manufacturers probably, do not design machines with the single primary objective of achieving the greatest sales volume possible. Selling 600 Bumotec s191 models was never the primary objective during the design stage. However, just like the Swiss army knife, building an architecture produced on a basic model makes sense. This is demonstrated by its commercial success.

    At Del West, your slogan is “Born to Innovate”. In what way do you think that buying this machine will enable you to innovate in your production?

    Olivier Conne: In order to guarantee maximum freedom of innovation for our products, we endeavor to integrate the latest generation production equipment which is highly accurate and flexible. The ability to combine machining and grinding operations on the same terminal is a real asset, like the linear axes.

    Guy Ballif: Thanks to this new way of using the s191 at Del West, we can add blades to our “Swiss army knife” particularly by machining exotic materials!

    Olivier Conne: Yes, we use the materials of tomorrow to innovate. These materials are often difficult to shape. Moreover, Del West has developed extensive knowledge of producing components from materials known to be difficult or even impossible to machine.

    And a rather awkward question ... Why did you choose a Bumotec machine?

    Olivier Conne: Our industrial strategy focuses on buying machines with excellent durability and advanced technology. Back in 2011, we made our decision to buy our first Bumotec to produce the middle parts of watches. It wasn’t the cheapest but its quality was obvious. We also wanted to ensure that we were fairly geographically close to the supplier, particularly as the machines are so sophisticated.

    Guy Ballif: Don’t forget that in 2010, the s191 was a pioneer, mainly because it offered bar machining and was equipped with linear motors. We were trailblazers.

    It is relatively rare in the world of machine tools to see a machine survive so long. Can you talk about the history of the improvements?

    Guy Ballif: The greatest development was being able to work using bars. Then, working with blanks, we incorporated 
    an automation system from an A4 size plate, up to 50 workpieces per plate and a maximum total of 20 plates, developed recently. This improvement became possible around 2010 – 2011.

    Jean-Daniel Isoz: Today, this machining center equipped with its automation is extremely competitive in terms of price per workpiece. It is simple to use and does not require any particular skills in robotics.

    In the spring of 2016, we noticed that the s181 was more precise and more compact than the s191 but, despite this, it still continued to sell ...

    Guy Ballif: Yes, because the s181 has two stations which work simultaneously. The s181 model has the advantage 
    of working the 6th face in concurrent operation time. The s191 model cannot do this, but instead, offers a broader range of possible configurations and enables a greater variety of workpieces to be produced.

    Has the s191 model been bought to replace another machine, increase production flexibility or to create a new production line?

    Olivier Conne: To purchase a multiple platform solution combining turning and milling to facilitate greater flexibility. We currently have three of these models.

    Is your strategy to favor local investments or, conversely, do you choose performance at the best price?

    Olivier Conne: We buy from what we consider to be the best suppliers. If they are based in Switzerland, we appreciate it very much.

    Are environmental parameters such as power requirements, oil filtering, lubricant recovery, involved when choosing a machine?

    Olivier Conne: Not so much today, but that will quickly change. Our customers ask us this type of question and these elements will naturally be included in the selection criteria when future purchases are made.

    Jean-Daniel Isoz, Director of Starrag Vuadens SA

    “Very often customers purchase our machines because of the guaranteed support during use.”

    If the customer, in exchange for purchasing a new s191, (or purchasing another new machine), “offered” you an old machine to take back, would you do it?

    Guy Ballif: This rarely happens. On the market, there are no second-hand Bumotec machines.

    Jean-Daniel Isoz: We do retrofits on a case-by-case basis, but it is not our “core business”.

    And in terms of tooling, which is very important in machining, how do you decide?

    Olivier Conne: We have Capto tool holders. It wasn’t simple initially but it has turned out to be a good choice. As for cutting tools, we test a lot of tools and we have developed  considerable skills in selecting tools. Bumotec is always offering advice. Bumotec’s After-Sales service is excellent, as is the Sales Department.

    What are your thoughts about the new Innoteq trade show in Bern being held in March 2021?

    Jean-Daniel Isoz: I prefer smaller exhibitions targeted at specific markets/regions, as the era of general trade fairs is long gone.

    Guy Ballif: It is true that by expanding the opportunities to exhibit products, there is a tendency to put off customers. We gave up on Prodex, as it was becoming too general . We prefer our showroom to prove our expertise. It is particularly important to demonstrate the synergy between SIP and Bumotec. Since these two entities have come together, we can offer our customers greater reliability and added value.

    How will the new s191 be used by Del West?

    Olivier Conne: The machines are not specialized machines. They remain flexible to ensure maximum adaptability. With the latest s191, we can produce prismatic workpieces, such as bracelet attachments, crown guards, clasps or gearbox parts for racing cars. Our strength is knowing how to machine a multitude of materials such as stainless steel, titanium and aluminum alloys, as well as more exotic materials such as very special steels or even metal matrix or carbon composites.