Machine tool smart, versatile

Farra Engineering's latest $1.3 million machining kit not only has the capacity to work 24/7, but can text its progress to operators day and night.

The DMG Mori ``multi-pallet (work bench) horizontal machining centre'', supplied by a German-Japanese merged company, has been running for about a fortnight, at Farra Engineering, Dunedin, chief executive John Whitaker said.

The DMG Mori could work on castings weighing just a few grams, on pieces weighing up to three tonnes, and castings up to 1.4cu m in size.

``Being so productive, we're going to the marketplace to fill the spare capacity,'' Mr Whitaker said.

The DMG Mori has eight pallets, or movable work benches. The castings are loaded by the operator and are then automatically presented and lined up for precision machining.

``We're hoping that it will go into full-time use,'' Mr Whitaker said.

Farra manager Mike Ryan said although two other types of the DMG Mori were operating in the South Island, he understood that Farra's was the only one available to other companies for contract work, and had the largest capacity of any in the country.

``While its got the speed and agility of a small machine, it has the capacity of a larger machine,'' Mr Ryan said.

``It can text an operator for assistance, which could be at 2 o'clock in the morning,'' Mr Ryan quipped.

Production manager Jess Chaloner said an experienced tradesman could learn the basic operations of the machine within a week, but it could take up to two months for all of its advanced features to be mastered.

Although it took longer to set up initial programming for a new casting, Mr Chaloner estimated the DMG Mori saved 50% in time taken machining larger castings, than them being done one by one by a tradesman.


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