Success Story

Burckhardt Compression: Four machining centres in twelve years

Number four bridges a gap - Sights on a world record

Any company that has used machining centres from one manufacturer to successfully produce numerous important components with high productivity, precision, and reliability for over a decade, will tend to return to the same supplier for their next purchase: This is why Burckhardt Compression has bypassed the usual tendering process from multiple suppliers and ordered their fourth machine directly from Starrag - a Scharmann ECOFORCE in the maximum expansion level. 

A glimpse at just a few of the key figures tells us more: This company’s products and production processes are often subjected to high pressure. Burckhardt Compression AG, based in Winterthur (Switzerland) is one of the world's largest manufacturers of piston compressors and holds the world record in this sector with a unit that has an operating pressure of 3,600 bar.

The company's customers are usually companies in the processing industry who highly value long-term collaboration and rapid, consistently reliable service. And the Swiss company also expects the same from their machine supplier. Starrag Technology GmbH from Mönchengladbach (Germany) is one of these trusted suppliers, and has supplied Burckhardt Compression with four machining centres in twelve years. Roman Dünner, Technical Supervisor CNC-Large Parts Manufacturing: "We particularly value the friendly nature of this collaboration, from the first evaluation of a new machine through to commissioning."

Burckhardt, a former Sulzer subsidiary, has already purchased a Scharmann ALPHA 1250 M, a Scharmann HEAVYSPEED 2 ram type boring mill and a Dörries CONTUMAT VC 2400 MC-V vertical turning lathe. These machines are used to manufacture cylinders, cylinder blocks, frames, valve heads and steering rods for compressors from castings and forgings with a high degree of automation. The largest individual parts are up to six metres long and weigh a maximum of 30 tonnes. Not absolute, but relative precision is needed here in the micrometre range (20 µm), because the parts must fit each other exactly during later assembly. A further important trend in Winterthur is also: Heavy-duty cutting in a clamping device with maximum precision. 

A Scharmann ECOFORCE 2 HT 4 machining centre, which serves as a replacement for an old Wotan machine tool, closes the machining gap between the Scharmann ALPHA and the Scharmann HEAVYSPEED. Number four is again a stand-alone machine developed according to customer request, which differs from its predecessors in one respect: This time there was no invitation to tender among multiple suppliers, not least of all because of the good experiences with the first three machines. The Swiss company also chose Starrag due to their service level, in which they rate Starrag remote maintenance and diagnostics services particularly highly. Dünner: "The service, with its rapid response times—usually within one day—has really proved its worth."


Design and features

The Scharmann ECOFORCE 2 HT 4 is designed with a very powerful 54 kW spindle (torque: 3,000 Nm in S1 continuous operation) for medium-sized parts of up to 24 tonnes (X: 3,500 mm, Y: 2,500 mm, Z: 3,500 mm, W: 800 mm). The combination of head attachments and flexible tool magazine with automatic changes enables the use of large two-blade tools. An RTM 220 Kuka robot tool magazine (for 196 tools) and an automatic pickup magazine for head attachments reduce downtimes. In addition, a facing head (diameter: 500 mm), attachment spindle (length: 1,000 mm, diameter: 180 mm) and a spindle-driven angled milling head are used. An adapter plate enables the use of existing machining heads on both the HEAVYSPEED and the Scharmann ECOFORCE. Ergonomics is also an important factor in the new machine. It has a mobile and accessible platform, which covers the chip fall shafts against accidents. 

Special extra features include a technology package that describes the processing of typical customer workpieces in detail, including indications of parameters, tools and processing times. This data serves as test criteria during the approval process. 

The Scharmann ECOFORCE has been tried and tested in the workplace, and is now also supporting Burckhardt Compression in achieving a world record. It is used to produce all major drive elements for what the manufacturer claims is the world's most powerful hyper-compressor system (operating pressure: 3,100 bar; motor power: 99 Megawatt) that has ever been constructed for an LDPE plant for the manufacturing of plastic packaging (LDPE: low-density polyethylene). The system, weighing a total of 1,000 tonnes and consisting of three compressors, will be used in the USA in the near future in a plant with a production output of around 400,000 tonnes per year. Dünner: "The production output also included the largest component manufactured on the machining centre so far, with a total length of over three metres: It just about fits on the 2.3 metre pallets and takes up almost the entire possible interference range of the machine." 


Company Profile

Burckhardt Compression

Burckhardt Compression AG (turnover 2016: approximately CHF 558 million; employees: approximately 2,100), based in Winterthur, Switzerland, has considerable experience and expertise in the manufacturing of customer-specific piston compressors with an optimal output within a broad spectrum of applications in the areas of oil and gas production (upstream oil & gas), gas transport and storage, refineries, the petrochemical/chemical industry and industrial gases. 
According to its own data, the Swiss company is the sole provider of a complete range of labyrinth piston, process gas, hyper and offshore compressors that can be used in a wide temperature range (from minus 160°C to plus 80°C). Several decades of use is no rare occasion: In Winterthur, Burckhardt proudly displays a compressor manufactured in 1884, which was in service for 85 years.

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