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Cutting tools “Making futuristic machines”

Mar 29, 2017

Chandrashekar Sharma, Vice President— Kennametal Cutting Tools & Machine Tool Business and Prabhakar J, Head—Machine Tool Business, WIDMA, Kennametal India, in an interview with EM, brief on their company’s latest advancements that help customers adapt various configurations and meet the manufacturing needs of the industry. Excerpts…

Can you brief us on the new launches under WIDMA during IMTEX 2017?

Sharma: Under the WIDMA brand, we have four product ranges—Special Purpose Machines, Special Vertical turning machines, CNC Tool & cutter grinder machines and Fixtures & Tooling solutions. In fixturing solutions, we highlighted single minute set-up change fixtures, CG centered fixtures that facilitate quick rotations and fixtures that enable free chip flow during operations. In the tool grinding section, we displayed the PCD tool grinding machine with the latest features, including linear motors, load sensors and acoustic sensors. The machine has built-in automation capabilities for dressing, probing, load/unload, honing, marking, etc.

Prabhakar: In the new launches, we have simplified machines by reducing the number of elements, thus, facilitating an easy and low maintenance, high reliability and superior performance.

How is the acceptability of IoT-enabled machines with the Indian customers today?

Sharma: The whole concept of Industry 4.0 is currently sinking in the industry. Many companies during IMTEX have demonstrated IoT-enabled machines. I believe that remotely monitoring a machine’s performance during its operation will become an upcoming trend.

Prabhakar: In future, machines on shop floors should be interconnected and a lot of decision-making should happen remotely in terms of machining activities. We are working on this trend for making futuristic machines.

Which market sectors are targeted with WIDMA?

Sharma: Our Special Purpose Machines are used for batch production and mass production of metal cutting operation, majorly in the automotive sector. The vertical turning machines finds application in pump & valve segment and the railway wheel segment. The tool grinding machines are used by tool making customers for applications such as tool manufacturing and re-grinding. Lastly, fixtures are used by almost all industry verticals, such as the automotive, aerospace and railways.

What are your company’s strategies so as to meet customer specific requirements?

Sharma: Today, customers are demanding a final output based on their input components. As such, we take the 3D data of these components and start programming through the CAM software. Then, with the help of our latest Novo tooling application software, we simulate the complete machining operations. This provides them with a complete machining strategy to achieve faster machining cycle time, reduce machining costs and improve productivity.

Prabhakar: In any metal cutting operation, the process is between the tooling, machine and fixtures. We have expertise in all these areas, thus, helping customers to meet their specific requirements.

How do you decide to design the machines right the first time?

Sharma: We do the complete engineering empathising with our customer. We conceptualise the machine depending on the requirements and challenges faced by them. After discussing this with their application team to ensure that the customer’s in-house knowledge is concurrent with our concept, the machine is passed to the design department. We then build up the entire design and do a complete FEM analysis (both static and dynamic) to understand its deliverability, and then finally go for manufacturing the machine.

Prabhakar: We also do a lot of process optimsiation on the machines and conduct operational excellence programmes such as DFME to improvise our product designs and process optimisation.

Moving ahead, can you brief us on your expansion plans for the Indian market?

Sharma: Our company has been growing quite rapidly in India. This year, a total budget of capex Rs 80 crores will be invested into the Indian facility. We have also expanded our shop floor facility by adding more machines and quality equipment to extend our production capacity. In addition, we are investing in developments of new software to automate the design process so as to bring new products to the market faster.

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