Any manufacturer of XXL machine tools can probably come up with gigantic data and fantastical characteristic values. But the real size of this kind of investment is often not seen until after years of operation, as a visit to satisfied Starrag customer NEUMAN & ESSER GmbH & Co. KG in Übach-Palenberg showed.
Sometimes all it takes to make you listen is a brief comment. "And there at the back is the Droop+Rein, one of our best workhorses in the stable," says Alexander Peters, Managing Partner of NEUMAN & ESSER GmbH & Co. KG from Übach-Palenberg near Aachen (NEA GROUP), while on a tour of the company. "We are very satisfied with this machine tool, its performance and the service provided by the manufacturer."
He is talking about a Starrag portal machining centre with adjustable crossbeam and movable clamping table (Droop+Rein T 30 40 DT R50 C). Currently the largest machine tool investment in the history of the NEA GROUP has proven itself in the complete machining of components—and especially demanding machine components—since 2011. These are primarily components for piston compressors in compressor systems handling all technical process gases and for pendulum-mill housings in crushing technology.
"We have had the portal machining centre in continuous operation since 2011," says Simon Prell, Manager of Mechanical Production. "We mainly use it to machine crankcases and spacers as part of three-shift operation. It stops gas escaping from the cylinder into the crankcase and oil from moving into the cylinder from there." The Rhineland-based company also uses the machine tool to produce cast components for pulverisers. This usually entails complete machining, which is performed with or without coolant depending on the workpiece. Minimal-volume lubrication, however, is not required owing to the high-strength materials, such as iron and steel alloys with a high nickel or chromium content.
The new arrival went down well in Übach-Palenberg even during the commissioning phase eight years ago. The company says it was one of the smoothest introductions they had ever experienced, despite involving switching to a completely new form of machining. At that time, crankcases were still machined on a horizontal drilling rig, one of the main problems with which was long periods of non-productive time due to time-consuming clamping processes. By contrast, a portal machining centre machines the extremely heavy workpieces more elegantly and quickly in a single clamping process, thereby greatly reducing machining times. The crankcases can also be machined in their operating position. According to Prell, the portal machine is particularly distinguished by the fact that the different machining heads can be optimally positioned and aligned.