Helping companies to help themselves

New two-week course turns customers into ECOSPEED experts

“Service is not just the name of a department; it is an approach.” This mindset helped turn five experienced fitters in Mönchengladbach into ECOSPEED service professionals in just two weeks. In its new Advanced Maintenance course, the Customer Training team provides practical training that helps users help themselves.

One example of successful work from the training team: In late autumn of 2019, five trained fitters came to Mönchengladbach to dive deep into the world of ECOSPEED. The group was made up of three skilled workers from one of Starrag's regular customers in the aerospace industry, as well as two Starrag employees. “We not only provided these mechanical service technicians with expertise related to their field, but we also trained them in commissioning and application technology,” says Karl-Hubert Jacobs, a member of the training team. “We used to have two or three experts go to the customer to carry out a spindle change.” In the future, the customer will be able to carry out a spindle change on an ECOSPEED on their own. The course is aimed at both customers and Starrag service technicians.

    What does the course involve? Advanced Maintenance Training (AMT) is a two-week course and is usually intended for a maximum of three participants due to the amount of space available on an ECOSPEED machine. The ECOSPEED White Tail is used –  a special machine for research and development that the team at Starrag Mönchengladbach usually uses to carry out tool tests and other trials. The course primarily focuses on replacing the spindle. “We demonstrate how to carry out a spindle change without having to completely dismantle the C-axis” explains Jacobs. “The old spindle is removed from the only partially dismantled C-axis and the new spindle is installed. This procedure saves a lot of time.” This is followed by typical tasks such as adjusting the lubrication and the electrical parameters and commissioning the new spindle motor. The participants then check the reference points of axes A, B and C, which may have to be set again if there is a deviation.

    Finally, the participants learn about the work and responsibilities of an application engineer, for example compensating the Z3 head using three processes – in addition to the 40-degree test and the ball test, this task includes using the ECO-TRIM CNC program, which automates the first two processes. ECO-TRIM also enables operators to calibrate the machine in a rapid, fully automated process. Jacobs adds: “We explain to the participants in detail how these three processes affect the geometry of the machine, and the benefits of each process.” The next step is to replace an angled milling head with the new spindle, check and adjust the C-axis and change the tool in the trimming head. Automation is another key focus of the training, and the tool robot – nicknamed the “Wero” after the German term Werkzeugroboter – plays an essential part in introducing the participants to the various adjustment tasks.

    Karl-Hubert Jacobs from the Starrag Customer  Training team during the new Advanced Maintenance Training: “There is always an opportunity to exchange ideas about how to carry out work.”

    “A particular advantage of the way this course has been designed is that unlike changing a spindle in the normal production process, there is no time pressure and therefore plenty of time for questions,” explains the trainer. 

    “We plan a full week for this so that we have enough time to check connections, for example.” In addition, the White Tail training machine does not have to be built as quickly as possible – unlike customer machines – and is solely used for training for the entire training period. This eliminates on-the-job training, which is often ineffective. “We learn from each other, sharing which sequences have proven to be successful during the work. This allows us to further optimize our work processes in different areas.” In addition, the fact that the course is completed at the Mönchengladbach plant means staff from the relevant specialist departments can be easily consulted to answer specific questions from the customer. The Starrag Customer Training department offers AMT to customers for an additional fee as part of its training program. This training complements the operating, maintenance and programming training that Starrag offers to customers when they order a machine. 

    All training courses are conducted in German or English, and qualified interpreters can be booked for other languages. The success is proof for Starrag: At the beginning of 2020, Jacobs turned employees at an aircraft manufacturer into ECOSPEED service professionals in the first two-week course.