Success Story

Setting our sights high...

Dörries CONTUMAT VC 2400/200 MC V turning lathe in the production of machine components

...with an order for the SMS group. The machine and plant manufacturer from Mönchengladbach ordered a very high double-column vertical turning lathe for complete machining of challenging machine components from its neighbour, the Starrag Group. 

"An important element here is our international, closely integrated manufacturing and workshop network" emphasised Burkhard Dahmen, Chairman of the Board of the SMS group from Düsseldorf. "We continue to produce challenging machine and plant components in our German plants — at the very highest technological level. Our continued investment in the expansion and modernisation of the factories is helping us secure this status".

A visit to the SMS group on location in Mönchengladbach proved just how ambitiously and thoroughly the group is approaching this task: As part of a modernisation drive, the machine and plant manufacturer has invested around EUR 37 million into production modernisation and involvement in the Industry 4.0 project. The company was able to make the plant future-proof within the space of three years as part of this modernisation drive, and this effort has paid off. According to Dipl.-Ing. Judith Schmitt, Head of Mechanical Manufacturing, this allowed the SMS group to "reduce machining times during operation by up to 50%". 

This is not only a great financial achievement, but also an amazing technological and logistical feat: The Mönchengladbach-based company has reorganised its setup and processes with a view to Industry 4.0 and has exchanged 15 machine tools. One of these machine tools is the Dörries CONTUMAT VC 2400/200 MC V from the Starrag Group subsidiary, Dörries Scharmann Technologie GmbH. "The vertical turning lathe replaces at least two machines which we had previously been using to manufacture the workpieces", explains Industrial Foreman Norbert Hoffmann. "It used to be the case that after turning, we would have to carry out drilling and milling on a boring mill or machining centre, and then switch back to using the turning lathe". "The keywords here are complete machining" adds the Head of Mechanical Manufacturing. "We are now able to carry out turning, drilling, milling and grinding within a single clamping operation". 

But typically, no two Starrag Group machine tools are alike, and the Mönchengladbach-based neighbour was also particularly impressed with a truly outstanding extra: The CONTUMAT is a tower measuring over seven metres in height. The large machine table (120 kW drive capacity; 56,100 Nm torque in S1) can be used to machine  workpieces up to 17 tonnes in weight, with a maximum height of 2,585 mm and a diameter of up to 2,400 mm. The turning lathe also features a crossbeam, which can travel up to 1,000 mm. The Mönchengladbach-based company machines a broad spectrum of materials on the VCE 2400, such as high alloy heat-treatable steels, copper-tin casting alloys and structural steels. 

The VCE 2400 is used to create a large spectrum of cubic and round, small and large, flat and tall components that changes almost daily in very small batch sizes. These components will be used almost exclusively in large manufacturing plants at a later date for steel rollers or pipe manufacturing. The VC 2400 is particularly well suited to machining large components. Hoffmann says: "It allows us to process very tall components and also to penetrate much more deeply, when drilling for example". 


Compliance with the company's own standards plays an important role for the machine and plant manufacturer, also taking into account the closely-integrated manufacturing and workshop network. The Starrag Group has effortlessly met all the requirements set by the product specifications – in remarkable contrast to "some other machine tool manufacturers" (Schmitt). "Another aspect that made a particularly good impression was that the Starrag Group managed to achieve the high level of geometric accuracy required by us" said the Industrial Foreman. "It's not just any lathe manufacturer that's able to meet the prescribed IT6 tolerance". Another specification related to ergonomics: Therefore, the CONTUMAT was supplied to the customer with complete housing, which works together with the suction device to reliably protect employees from aerosol fumes. 

The new plant is also characterised by a very comprehensive manufacturer network, which follows the guiding principles of Industry 4.0. This also had an impact on the embedding of the machine tools. The requirements set by the product specifications in terms of electronics and interfaces were correspondingly high: As a result of this, the VC 2400 was equipped with laser technology for measuring workpieces and tools, along with systems for recognising collisions and tool breakage. 
"Engineering precisely what you value" is the Starrag Group's slogan, how does the Head of Mechanical Manufacturing assess the current state of affairs with regard to the VC 2400 in relation to this slogan? "We've already seen an enormously positive impact in terms of the machining time, which has been reduced by at least 30%" said Judith Schmitt. "We want to reduce manufacturing costs by 20% in the long term, and we are currently at 10% with the CONTUMAT".
The close proximity to the machine tool manufacturer is of particular benefit to the SMS group because the optimisation process is ongoing. "The fine-tuning of the NC programme is still underway, for example" said Industrial Foreman Martin Pach. "In addition, machine operators should familiarise themselves with CONTUMAT to a greater extent in order to get more out of it". The SMS group runs optimisation projects with Starrag operators and maintenance staff. Judith Schmitt has an optimistic view of the future, as she has faith in the continued cooperation with a neighbour "who up to now has always reliably taken all our requirements and change requests seriously and gone on to implement them".  


lower manufacturing costs

Profile: SMS group GmbH, Mönchengladbach, Germany

As part of the SMS Holding GmbH, the SMS group is a group of international companies in machine and plant manufacturing for the steel and non-ferrous metal industry. Over 14,000 employees worldwide help generate a turnover of approximately EUR 3.4 billion. The manufacturer of large machinery with locations in Mönchengladbach and Hilchenbach produces all challenging machine and plant components for companies within the group in a closely-integrated manufacturing and workshop network.

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