In a modular design for optimum profitability

Up to 30% smaller footprint and 15% higher productivity—with these convincing figures, Starrag has launched the newly developed Heckert L40 and Heckert H50 machining centres. The modular design of the horizontal five-axis centres with 400-mm or 500-mm pallet size allows for custom configuration in operations ranging from light metal machining to heavy-duty cutting.

Cutters with the highest quality standards have long valued the strengths of the Heckert horizontal machining centres: They are powerful and highly accurate for a very long time. Every detail of this series has been meticulously enhanced to meet the requirements of the market. The Starrag management was determined that the small Heckert machines for pallets of 400 mm and 500 mm would achieve a large increase in productivity. The result is the completely redeveloped centres Heckert L40 and Heckert H50. They are designed for five-axis simultaneous machining, but are also available in the four-axis variant.

“‘Industrie 4.0’ benefits from networking, not from individual Starrag machines or production cells.”

“Up to 30% smaller footprint and 15% higher productivity”

Dr Marcus Otto, Managing Director of the Starrag plant in Chemnitz, explains: “In the development of the new Heckert machines we have looked at exactly what our customers need: optimized operation, speed and a small footprint. A redesigned user interface extends the user’s possibilities enormously and simplifies operation. The traverse paths have been optimized and downtime minimised. We have intelligently integrated the peripheral equipment into the engineering room, maintaining good accessibility and ease of service.

The two machines are based on a modular kit, which allows us to have the machines configured to the specific needs of our customers and to deliver an individually configured machine in just ten weeks”.

In the new development of the “small” Heckert machines, Starrag has taken the utmost care to ensure that the wellknown long-term precision of Heckert machines is maintained. Jonny Lippmann, Project Manager at Starrag, explains: “We place great value on being extremely precise in mechanical engineering, so the electronic compensation is just the icing on the cake. This way we can ensure a high level of precision and process reliability for many years.”

a group of starrag employees

“From the circular tool magazine with 20 slots to the linear magazine, the machine can be individually equipped with 320 tools.”

Minimised space requirements

A newly designed mineral cast machine bed provides temperature and vibration resistance with a centrally positioned swarf conveyor. The cooling unit is easily accessible in the machine cube. With this space-saving approach, the new Heckert H50 has enabled the employees in Chemnitz to reduce their footprint by 30% when compared with the predecessor model HEC 500D. The increased area productivity makes the machine a genuine alternative to multispindle centres.

While large parts of the assemblies of all machine variations are the same, the columns have options for variation: For highly dynamic machining, a weight-optimised version is available. By contrast, a more solid column is used for heavy-duty cutting as this ensures optimised damping.

At the heart of the machine is the spindle, available in many different versions. The customer can choose between universal HSK63 spindles, high-speed spindles for dynamic aluminium machining and high-torque HSK100 spindles, which are required for machining titanium. No matter which spindle the customer chooses, it comes from Starrag’s own production.

“By means of subsequent fingerprints we can compare the respective status, detect any change and introduce preventive maintenance measures.”

Maximised flexibility

These is also a choice in tool magazine. From the circular tool magazine with 20 slots to the linear magazine, the machine can be individually equipped with 320 tools. Flexibility through tool diversity is one aspect of the enhancements, but an increase in productivity, for example in the contract manufacturing, cannot be achieved only in machining. Tool change is an important factor for downtime. This is why Starrag has reduced the chip-to-chip time for its customers to 2.2 seconds. Developers have also been able to shorten down- times for workpiece change with a new two-pallet changer. This means the customer is free to order new Heckert centres without a workpiece changing device, if they are intended for linked production lines. For entry into flexible automation the Chemnitz-based specialists have developed a spacesaving solution consisting of six pallets and a set-up station. This allows a small, flexible production cell to be developed.

The trend towards automated production cells and lines is not limited to mechanical solutions; it continues in the digitisation of production. Starrag supports the path to “Industrie 4.0” in many ways. Dr Marcus Otto explains: “Our developments cover the spectrum from digital integration of the individual machine through to the entire shop floor.” Accordingly, the new Heckert machines are equipped with PROFINET and IO-Link technology, providing a suitable basis for networks and digitisation. A new control panel with 24” multitouch screen enables the integration and display of other use elements besides information related to the machine, such as cameras, tool monitoring systems, documentation, drawings, maintenance instructions etc.

Dr. Markus Otto

“Industrie 4.0” modules increase productivity.

“At the heart of the machine is the spindle, available in many different versions.”

Regarding software, Starrag uses different modules to ensure higher productivity in machining and to simplify service and maintenance. This includes “chattering control”, which intervenes based on the parameters detected in the control loop and optimises cutting parameters. According to Jonny Lippmann, Starrag customers already use the “fingerprint today”. The current status of a machine is recorded on the basis of several parameters. This is done for the first time when leaving the production facility. “By means of subsequent fingerprints we can compare the respective status, detect any change and introduce preventive maintenance measures.

Starrag combines the “Industrie 4.0” activities in the Starrag IPS (integrated production system), which is used across all brands and machines in the group. SIPS consists, in principle, of three shells around the machine. The interior contains functions which have a direct impact on the machine and the cutting process. This includes the monitoring of cutting forces and vibrations. The second shell concerns the machine’s communication with the outside world. It also includes the tool and workpiece management. The third level is used for networking the production and its integration into general systems such as ERP software. “‘Industrie 4.0’ benefits from networking, not from individual Starrag machines or production cells”, explains Managing Director Marcus Otto. “Therefore, we want to use our systems to capture the entire shop floor and to be a fully supportive partner for the customer.”

A Starrag machine

Development and production — an insight

At the beginning of a new development you are always trying to satisfy current and especially future demands so as to meet market requirements. However, the idea for a new approach at product level begins a complex process in the company as a whole. At Starrag, Dr Markus Richter and Dr Stefan Thurner are responsible for two fundamental sub-projects as part of the redevelopment of the Heckert machining centre.

Dr Richter, Director Development at the Starrag factory in Chemnitz, guided his team of more than 50 staff through all phases of the development and ensured that the focus never wavered from the objectives. Namely, implement customer's individual needs quickly and efficiently. In other words: Engineering precisely what you value!

When asked how this had been achieved with the new machines, Dr Richter said: “Consistent modularisation is the key. The new machines allow us to find the appropriate configuration and therefore the ideal processing solution for our customers. For example, we implement heavy-duty cutting from pallet size 400 in exactly the same way as five-axis simultaneous machining or solutions for turning.”

Dr Stefan Thurner, Director Production in Chemnitz, was tasked with implementing this modularisation in production and is therefore responsible for ensuring the necessary flexibility in the manufacturing process. When asked about this, he said: “We have been working hand-in-hand with the development department since the start of the project and have simultaneously reviewed our value chain and adjusted it accordingly. Thanks to these ideal prerequisites we can facilitate all manner of product diversity, despite some extremely short delivery times. We know that our customers have to react ever quicker and see it as our duty as a future-oriented partner to help them in this aspect.”